Apple's iPhone, iPad, et al.: The triumph of toy technology?

A dyed-in-the-wool business PC user comes to a surprising conclusion as he plays with Apple's mobile 'toys'

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The recent iPadDevCamp conference in San Jose, Calif., produced a myriad of applications for the iPad, for both recreational and business purposes. Applications included games, an aid for the visually impaired, and a wireless system for pushing content such as documents and spreadsheets between devices.

"I think Apple's redefining the computer as much more than an appliance," offering a range of capabilities including productivity and utility applications, movies, and games, says Dom Sagolla, an organizer of the event and CEO of iPhone and iPad application builder Dollar App.

Apple still sells desktop computers and servers, including its Xserve pizza-box server, but they do not grab the headlines or the buzz like the handheld units. Within days of the April 2 availability of iPad, I saw it showing up at different industry events, including Apple's own iPhone OS 4 introduction and DrupalCon SF.

While Apple's glitzy devices are likely requested by kids as birthday or Christmas presents, I'd still have to say Apple is a computer technology venture rather than a toy company. The systems do offer a variety of uses for both nonrecreational and recreational purposes. Just because they are hotter than Rolling Stones concert tickets right after they go on sale does not mean Apple's consumer-oriented systems have no place in businesses.

Perhaps the clincher for me was a television news report about the Iceland volcano that disrupted air traffic in Europe. According to the report, the prime minister of Norway was stranded in a U.S. airport and running his country from -- you guessed it -- his iPad.

Try doing that with the iPad lookalike Etch-a-Sketch or other toys available at Toys 'R' Us.

Don't forget to be part of the InfoWorld Mobile Patrol: Send in your tips, complaints, news, and ideas to comments@infoworldmobile.com. Thanks!

Paul Krill is an editor at large at InfoWorld, focusing on software development technologies.

This article, "Apple's iPhone, iPad, et al.: The triumph of toy technology?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Gruman et al.'s Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile computing at InfoWorld.com.

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