If you watch a lot of television, you’d think Apple’s iPad, which accounts for 68 percent of all global tablet sales, had cornered the enterprise market. Clever product placement makes it seem like this two-year-old technology has found it way into every business from retail to national security. The truth, however, is that of the hundreds of thousands of iOS apps only a tiny percentage help foster the image of the iPad as post-PC computer. Rather, the vast majority are created for casual users looking to consume content. Games make up the biggest sector along with periodicals, while productivity apps, particularly those aimed at big, (or ever medium-sized) businesses, lag far behind.
But that’s changing. According to Macleans, Apple is, for the first time, actively courting developers, at least those willing to delve into this sector. However, to make the shift from consumption device to business tool, the iPad needs to be a viable tool for creating and managing content and workflow.
One signal that the change is well underway is tomorrow’s update of Panic’s much-lauded web development tool Coda to version 2.0 for OS X with a new iOS companion app called Diet Coda slated to appear in the App Store at the same time. While the iPad iteration is, as its name suggests, a lite version, its list of features for creating new content on-the-go is impressive compared to anything we’ve seen to date.
Diet Coda, which will sell for $9.99, bundles core features of the Coda package like code editing, FTP capabilities, and Panic’s SSH client with “AirPreview”, which allows changes made on a Mac to appear in real-time on the iPad.
It’s by no means the first iOS app with coding capacity, but it marks what Apple hopes will become a trend: well-established players in the Mac/PC sector embracing iOS as a serious platform. This move to port what TUAW calls a “legendary Mac app” falls on the heels of Adobe’s launch of Photoshop Touch, Revel and Proto for iPad suggesting that at least for businesses that focus on content creation, the change in perception in already underway, or at least the waters are been tested.
None of these mobile apps recreate the full PC experience, but they are a big step forward (and a necessary one) if Apple wants to maintain its top position in the marketplace. At the launch of the new iPad in March, the term “post-PC computer” was the Cupertino “it” phrase to describe the latest tablet. To be such, Apple has to maintain its appeal to casual users, and compete not just with Google’s Android, which is also primarily a consumption brand, but also with Microsoft’s upcoming mobile and PC OS, Windows 8, and whatever RIM may yet have planned. Apple has traditionally lagged behind both companies in the business sphere. For BlackBerry it may be too late, but Microsoft poses a serious threat to Apple’s preeminent position.
To woo business, the iPad has to been seen in real workplaces as more than just a way to take notes in a meeting, view presentations, Skype and make small changes to existing documents. Apple revamped its iOS iWorks package (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) in March to this end, but they have never been widely adopted by business. And, while Microsoft has made some recent forays into the App Store, they don’t offer Word, Excel and PowerPoint to iPad users, forcing them to rely on largely unknown and often lacklustre third-party apps to create or edit documents in their most commonly-used formats.
Diet Coda’s success (or lack thereof), is attention worthy, even to those who don’t do web development. If the mobile app works as well as hoped, it could herald a turning point for serious content creators and their relationship with the iPad.