The iPad And The Marketing Professional

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What is your holiday season going to look like?

The holidays are around the corner. The road rage of parking at the shopping mall and elbowing your way through the aisles to get that special something for our loved ones (and those mooching off of us) is upon us. It’s amazing how the happiest time of the year has become such a stress-inducing labour of disdain. For many, it’s become so hopeless that they have reduced the love of gift buying down to stocking stuffers of gift cards (“let them figure out what they want!”).

Another big transition is the giving of virtual goods.

Everything from Facebook Credits to loading up someone’s iTunes account to buying tractors in Farmville or subscriptions to Netflix. Virtual gifts have truly become the gift that keeps on giving. There’s no doubt that the future of technology is both portable and virtual. Look no further than the pervasiveness and explosive growth of the smartphone and tablet market. One of the hottest holiday gifts this coming season (for the young and old alike) is Apple‘s iPad. Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder and CEO, described the iPad as the device that lies in between your computer and your mobile device during his presentation to launch the tablet in January. The staggering media hoopla surrounding the device (Oprah recently chose the iPad as one of her “favourite things”) has helped it become a runaway success. Competitors Dell, BlackBerry, Samsung, Google and others are rushing tablets to the market (some are available, while others are said to be arriving in the first half of 2011) in a hope to capture market share.

The App Economy.

Beyond the physical tablet are the apps (or software) that people load onto these devices. The app economy continues to blossom with thousands of developers creating powerful applications every single day that not only make the iPad such an incredible experience, but they are also pushing the device to do things that you can’t do on laptops and smartphones. While most first-generation tablets are best suited to the consumption of media, they are also becoming amazing tools for business.

Here are some of the best iPad apps for business professionals…

  • Dropbox. Not only is this a great looking app, but it’s a crucial one. Dropbox allows you to back up all of your important files to a secured online location. This makes all of your files synchronized online. So, if you’re running Dropbox on your laptop, your files will be updated and backed up – in real time – and readily available from your iPad when you need them. The iPad app and 2 GB of storage is free, the premium edition pricing is based on storage space and a monthly fee.
  • iA Writer. It’s not simple to type on glass, but we’re all going to have to get used to it. iA Writer helps with this transition. The font type is beautiful and the typing view is clean. You can even lock the screen to focus on the sentences you are currently working on, instead of being distracted by the entire document. iA Writer not only gives you a word count but an estimated length of time that it will take to read your document. You can easily email the text file or have it sync directly to your Dropbox. iA Writer is $4.99.
  • FlightTrack Pro. I’ve clocked more air miles than I care to admit. If you travel for business, you need FlightTrack Pro. This app (especially when combined with TripIt Pro) offers the most robust flight tracking and travel experience optimizer that I have come across. It gives you details like gate information, alternate flights, seating information from SeatGuru, push alerts for delays and cancellations and even a screen with the percentage of time your flight is delayed (and by how long). The best part? Airlines don’t like telling you when a flight is delayed (they like having everyone at the gate), but FlightTrack Pro seems to be tied into another system because on countless occasions it has notified me long in advance of a delay while the airline says the same flight is on time (it’s still wise to always double-check with your airline). FlightTrack Pro is $9.99.
  • Flipboard. This iPad only application grabs your Twitter and Facebook feed and turns it into a beautiful magazine. It’s best at grabbing the links that people are talking about and it shows you (in a stunning layout) both the articles and tweets. From there, you can comment, share or save the content. You can also choose pre-defined pages (business, technology, etc …), so you’re not only a reader of a magazine, you are also the editor and publisher as well. Flipboard is free.

Digital currency is also a great gift!

If you’re still stumped and don’t know what to get the iPad totting business professional in your life, consider an e-gift certificate for Kindle, iBooks or Kobo and this way they can buy some e-books. If they’re not big on business books, magazines like Wired and The Economist also offer iPad-based digital editions of their monthly magazines via monthly subscription. Did you ever really think the day would come that a virtual gift would be more valuable than a physical one? If that doesn’t speak to the changing landscape of business and the new consumer, I don’t know what does.

What iPad apps do you think are critical to Marketing and Business professionals?

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:


  1. One of my favorites is Pulse – its like Flipboard but works off your Google reader or and RSS feeds you want to keep track of. Pulse is a free app

  2. I’m new to it, but FLUD looks like a keeper. It’s a bit like Flipboard as far as content aggregation; however, it’s feed-based, so you have more control over what it displays. Pretty cool!

  3. IAnnotate for marking up PDFs. Keynote for doing presentations. Evernote for synching up and remembering everything. Osfoora forma Twitter client. 2Screens for presenting anything other than a presentation file and marking it up while on screen.

  4. Thanks a lot for sharing this great list with us Mitch!
    Here are my suggestions for 2010:
    Wondershare iDraft: a simple notebook for iPad
    one of the greatest apps ever! Did I say it was…free?!!
    Pulse News Reader: a beatuiful RSS reader that allows you to have a look on your favourite websites
    you can easily draft wireframes for a website or iPad apps
    Dragon Dictation: whatever you say this app will remember it…and write it down at your place! Gorgeous!

  5. iThoughts HD is a mind mapping app that I couldn’t live without. Use it all the time and love it.
    Evernote is another wonderful app that every business personnel must have in my opinion.
    CallPod Keeper syncs all my passwords across multiple devices, couldn’t live without it.

  6. A lot of great apps have already been mentioned. I’d like to add 1Password to the list. Together with DropBox, the two work in the background to make sure your passwords are synced on all devices.

  7. I am an expert in the virtual presents scene. Some time ago I gave a friend two “virtual pets” for World of Warcraft and I made her very happy. When someone spends time and enjoys being part of an online game/service, “virtual presents” related to it start making a lot of sense. A new chance for people giving presents, and a lot of money for people selling them.

  8. I actually think that if you’re picking a true RSS reader that Reeder is a better app than Pulse. Plus, there is now a fantastic beta for the Mac OS desktop.
    I also really like all of Apple’s native iWork applications for business. And for reading docs that aren’t native (PDFs, DOCs), GoodReader is a terrific app.
    And for Twitter…my favorite is actually the native Twitter application for iPad, especially now that it supports multi-tasking and Push notifications.

  9. Lots of great suggestions here. In addition to the many great apps listed here, I regularly use Appgo’s ToDo app to keep track of all my tasks. I also really like Early Edition for blog reading. It syncs with Google Reader and displays blogs in an easy to read newspaper format. I also use Pocket Whiteboard more than I ever thought I would. It’s really handy for explaining a quick idea in a meeting. CalcXT is a handy calculator app with a notepad section which is pretty useful.

  10. It’s hard to say because I have not seem or touched the PlayBook yet. To date, Apple has been much better at the apps, so we’re going to have to see how good the BlackBerry tablet it. Also, keep in mind that the PlayBook is a very different size.

  11. I actually prefer Yojimbo to ever note because I don’t have to rely on having a wifi connection in an office with a client. I can instantly email them if I’m connected up to AT&T or send the email and it will send when I am hooked up to wifi. I use it for storing and developing handouts. And as a first headsup I will be releasing my first iPad business ap in the next 30 days. At this moment it will be called MyDecision a force field analysis tool (right and left column of positive and negative influences to a decision you are trying to make). Email me at [email protected] for more details.

  12. What is an IPad?
    Until I get a Tablet that is my canned wise ass response. I will say I am sold on Apps. And Apps being bits of software formatted for your digital device. On my Droid2 the regular web is frustrating and really lame. Web formatted for the smaller screen is better. But Apps rule in terms of taking advantage of a devices unique capabilities and limitations.

  13. Mitch, as a former Director of Operations at a large restaurant there still is the consulting job I take from time to time. This week an owner asked me how they can sell more gift certificates. After a bit, it occurred to me that they didn’t have GC’s being sold on their website! I explained that they are losing thousands of dollars of sales by neglecting this vital tool. So they are throwing together a merchant account and a link on each page of the website for GC’s.
    I know that’s a little off topic, but it ties in regarding the purchase of virtual goods.
    Anyways, I love Dropbox. We use a PC upstairs and a Mac downstairs, connected through an airport. Dropbox makes all file sharing simple and seamless.

  14. I’m loving my Note Taker HD app. I use it for all my meetings, calls and brainstorms. I can then tag each note as it relates to my organization, personal, a campaign, etc. It also lets you open PDF files and mark them up for notes and thoughts. I wish it would work better with DropBox but I’ve saved a bunch of paper… and look cool doing it!

  15. This is a great list of app ideas. Thanks for the post!
    On a totally different note, one of the apps I use the most is’s Dinner Spinner (free). It has absolutely nothing to do with marketing or business (shows the mother in me) but when you’re a busy professional and have no idea what to make for dinner and don’t want take out—again—this truly makes life more enjoyable.

  16. My most used apps are:
    – Twitter – to share and correspond with friends and colleagues
    – Reeder – to stay up to date with news that’s relevant to me
    – GoodReader (Dropbox integration) – to read PDFs (white papers, ebooks, etc)
    – Instapaper – to read things I saw on Twitter but didn’t have time to read
    – Producteev – to stay on top of my to do list
    I also use:
    – iA Writer – to write blog posts and long emails
    – GoToMeeting – to drop in on meetings from time to time if I’m not at a computer
    – WinAdmin, Remote Desktop – rarely use it, but it’s huge to have when I need it.

  17. I am a magazine freak and I recently discovered Zinio. I never thought that I would prefer digital to an actual magazine but I totally sold to this app and converting all my entourage to it. I currently have close to 20 digital subscriptions with it and can’t wait for some of my regular subscriptions to end so I can transfer them. It’s amazing and the cost for annual subscription is unbelievable, especially for European mags. As a marketing professional, I see the beginning of endless possibilities with digital magazine ads, it’s very exciting.

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