iPad envy? You know you want one…for the office!

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I just got a new iPad 3, and even convinced my wife to buy one for her PT office.    You may have noticed that we have an iPad giveaway contest on Therapydia, so you may have guessed that I am a fan. While the iPad 3 is not really that different from the iPad 2, the PT-related apps are getting better and the video capability, coupled with the higher resolution display, is a really great feature for PTs who want to work video into their treatment programs.

Since I am spending so much time trying to understand trends in the Physical Therapy market, it is interesting to look at the iPad from the perspective of a PT, or any other wellness professional, who has held off on buying one for office use. I think four things really stand out:

1)   After a slow start, there are now a lot of apps for PTs:  64 for the iPad and 89 for the iPhone.  27 of the iPad apps are free with the rest ranging from $1 to $80.  Also, many useful apps like Pocket Body exist in the broader “Health and Fitness” category.  As a patient, I would much rather a PT walk me through the 3D layered images on Pocket Body than show me a poster on the wall. I remember looking at iPad apps for PT two years ago, and loading some of those on my old iPad. There wasn’t much to choose from, and the apps were marginally functional. Now, it would be a serious challenge to review all of the useful apps. Luckily, I think the community does a pretty good job of that.   You can sort under relevance by “most popular” and “customer rating” to see what others are using/buying.

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2)   Other advanced apps for managing your personal and professional lives are taking off, and the higher volume means they are getting REALLY good.  If you haven’t heard of Dropbox, and you don’t know what the “Cloud” is, it will all come together when Apple bombards you with iCloud marketing in the upcoming months. It will be very seductive;  “Own an iPhone, an iPad, AND an iMac/MacBook! Store files ‘in-the-cloud’ and share them across all your devices whenever you need them.”  OK for Mac super users, but  for those of you who  have other non-Apple devices, and for better sharing features, I highly recommend Dropbox.  just bought 100 GB of storage with Dropbox for $10/month!  I can remember what XDrive charged for 1 MB back in 1999, and what Akamai charged to host website photos in 2005 so this feels like quite the bargain, no?

3) Video! PT is an industry made for video! It is crazy how easy it is to take a great video on the iPad and display it immediately to someone (say, a patient like me), and email it to someone (say, a patient like me). It’s even easier to store videos, and add videos to your personal video library accessible from almost anywhere. I wonder if video will do for wellness blogging what photos did for food blogging? The food blogging environment changed drastically when cheap digital cameras and enough bandwidth to store the photos for free came together in 2007.

4) Voice interface. On the new iPad keyboard, you will see a little microphone icon right next to the space bar on the keypad.  If you put the cursor in almost any application requiring text input and then hit the microphone button, you can dictate text. For professions where your hands are occupied and you want to take notes, this is pretty cool.  I don’t know if this is going to transform the way PTs take down their notes, but I do think that PTs are pretty good candidates to be early adopters of this feature. Like most new technology, speech to text functionality takes a little getting used to. If you are like me, you will spend the first few sessions with this feature wondering how anyone can understand what you are saying in the first place, and considering diction lessons. And ultimately, contemplating the future of voice interface, worrying when you or someone you know is going to end a sentence with “Period, Paragraph”

Not convinced? Here are some iPad-related numbers as Apple eyes a $1 Trillion market cap (today, it is the most valuable US company with a market cap of $700 Billion).

Tablets will pass personal computers in units sold per year by 2015:

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Already over 84M iPads sold in just two years; a faster uptake rate than either iPods or iPhones.

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2 Million iPhone 5 pre-orders on launch day September 21, 2012.

Which all amounts to enormous peer pressure to buy one or all of these devices.  So, feel fortunate if you have a legitimate professional reason to buy one!

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