Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Getting Real Business Value out of Cheap eBook Readers

Everybody wants an iPad but if we're really honest with ourselves, most of our reasons aren't exactly business reasons.

The iPad has a lot of great uses but it's amazing how often I see its business use limited to email and web browsing. If you've already got a work supplied mobile phone with these capabilities, blackberry for instance, then what is the business case for duplication?

Right now, the iPad is still a little pricey for mainstream business use but it's not a bad idea to start building your usage patterns with a cheaper device.

I recently picked up an eBook reader (from MiGEAR) for under $100. For comparison, the iPad costs about $700 here. The main advantage of the eBook reader over the blackberry is proper PDF file support.

The eBook reader I got didn't support DRM (although I've since downloaded and installed a patch which fixes this). I'm not bothered though because as a business tool, it doesn't need to support DRM.

I'm finding that it's very useful for saving all kinds of quick-reference data on. Sometimes in text format and sometimes as PDF. There are plenty of free PDF converters/printers available for download and the capability is now built-in to Lotus Symphony, Open Office and apparently, Office 2010.

Some of the great things you can store on your eBook reader for easy reference include;

  • Lists of important IP Addresses in our system
  • Contact Lists
  • Our Disaster Recovery Plan
  • Important Notes.INI settings information
  • Redbooks from IBM

When iPads (or their sucessors) eventually become standard issue at my workplace, I'll be ready but in the meantime, the eBook reader is getting me used to working "portably".

You might think that a reader is no good for taking notes on but the fact is that most of my notes, including this blog entry, are done on the blackberry while using public transport. I don't need a larger device to write, only to read.


1 comment:

Jerry Carter said...

I'm in the circle of people currently looking into the same. We're trying anything we can get our hands on.

As I see it so far - the business need (and value) is more in presenting applications with a usable mobile interface. We've been adapting Notes applications via the web to the Blackberry and are looking at extending this (with little change to approach) to other mobile devices.

The base requirement is a good web browser with a modicum of standard web support (CSS, basic JavaScript). The Blackberry browser *just* makes it usable but we can get so much more functionality with mobile Safari - especially with HTML5.

eBook readers do have some business value as a light weight and inexpensive mobile reference device as you are using it. And I think if you look at the roles within an organization, you're going to have basic user for whom this will suffice, but you're also going to have high-end users who need to do a lot of work on the go (managers) for whom the capabilities will not suffice.

Best of luck with your continued experimenting. It's a great direction to look for basic needs.