Tablets: From No Application, To Nifty Media Device, To Business Work Horse

Prairie Gleanings

Have you considered the potential efficiencies a tablet (like the iPad) could bring to the farm?

Published on: October 7, 2011
Well, I guess it’s about time I bought a tablet. I’ve wanted one for quite a while, but the $500 price point for Apple’s iPad was too steep for my liking. With Amazon’s new Kindle Fire set to launch next month for the low price of $200, I may have to jump on board.

Several months prior to the iPad’s launch in April 2010, I remember wondering why anyone would want a tablet. They don’t have all the functionality of a laptop. They can’t make phone calls. It seemed like a gimmicky way to toss a larger touchscreen in with other tech offerings. (FYI: I wasn't the only one saying this at the time.)

Apparently Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (R.I.P.) knew a little more about what consumers wanted than I did. Imagine that.

What I failed to realize, and he saw clearly, is folks weren’t looking for all the functionality of a laptop, or the extreme portability of a smartphone. They wanted a revolutionary way to consumer media, which is exactly what the iPad is.

Tablets give you a reason to invest in media subscription services, such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Netflix, Spotify, and Consumer Reprots. Rather than carrying around two newspapers, a DVD, music device and a magazine, you can now carry one tablet that has content from all five sources.

Turns out, what started as a nifty way to consume media now has a real business application. Doctors are integrating tablets into their practices. Rather than carrying clipboards and shuffling numerous charts back and forth, each nurse, receptionist and doctor now has their own tablet. Using specialized, secure software, they have patient vitals, history and insurance information at their fingertips.

As high speed internet and cell data service becomes faster in rural counties, tablets have potential at the farm level too. Imagine being able to walk around with a continual, real-time status update for your entire farm. You could check grain storage conditions, market shifts, the progress of a custom applicator in the field, a combine parts order and your email, all from one device.

It’s not a phone, but you may no longer rely on the phone like you used to. Think back to the days before cell phones. You actually had to wait until you got back to the house to call suppliers.

I laughed when I first saw Verizon’s Susie’s Lemonade ad. A young girl launches a massive lemonade business all from her Motorola Xoom tablet. This could very well be the future.

Kudos to Steve Jobs for his keen ability to see into the future. He was a terrific visionary who truly knew what the consumer wanted before we did.