Noble Communications Chief Insights Officer Andy Ford says his iPad is gradually replacing his laptop and his Kindle because of its ease of use and portability.
Noble Communications Chief Insights Officer Andy Ford says his iPad is gradually replacing his laptop and his Kindle because of its ease of use and portability.
In terms of attracting attention, the iPad holds its own against puppies and babies.

That’s something Andy Ford heard from a friend, but after owning his iPad for a month, Ford’s discovered it’s true.

“If you want to start a conversation with a stranger, that’s one way to do it,” says Ford, who is chief insights officer at Noble advertising and marketing agency.

Ford certainly doesn’t mind talking about his new iPad, and neither do some of the other Springfield businesspeople who joined the iPad-owner ranks since the touch-screen tablet’s initial April 3 release. Not all, however, would put themselves in the same tech junkie category as Ford, who admits he’s the type of person who goes out of his way to quickly get the next new gadget.

That was a new mindset for Louise Knauer, though.

“This is the first time I’ve had that kind of got-to-have-it, want-to-have-it now feeling,” says Knauer, senior vice president of communications and marketing at Community Foundation of the Ozarks, who bought her 3G iPad May 3, three days after the 3G version was launched. “I’m not super behind, but I’m not super cutting-edge, either.”

Springfield Mayor Jim O’Neal, who bought his iPad within days of its April release, considers himself more technology challenged than tech-savvy.

“I think this is more user-friendly,” he says. “The applications are all self-contained. It’s actually easier than a laptop.”

Ford agrees, noting that a common complaint about the iPad – the inability to have multiple programs running at once – works in his favor, since he tends to be easily distracted.

“It’s been a benefit to me to have one thing open at a time, because then I focus,” he says.

One of the iPad’s only downfalls for Ford is the immediate access to so many apps, he laughs, adding that his wife had to point out his “problem-spending” on apps.

“I’ve got 10 scroll pages full of apps. You’d probably be inclined to call me a heavy user,” he says.

David Raley, field representative for Assemblies of God’s Light for the Lost program, estimates he has between 50 and 60 apps on his 3G iPad. O’Neal has 80, and is adding to them daily, he says. Knauer has about 40, she says, noting a favorite is the Epicurious app.

“I’ll think of a couple of ingredients and use it to find a recipe,” she says. “It even creates a shopping list for you.”

She recently discovered the ease of ordering books on the iPad, when she forgot to bring a magazine to the gym.

“Now, I take that to the gym, and it’s great,” she says. “I always found it hard to read books there … but on the iPad, you can do more constructive reading, you can adjust the type.”

The iPad has even converted e-reader fans. Raley says his wife sold her Sony Reader shortly after she got her iPad. O’Neal uses the Kindle app and has purchased about 50 books from his Kindle that can be transferred to the iPad, he says. Ford says he loves his Kindle, but he’s spending a lot less time with it now.

“I was very, very skeptical. When I bought the iPad, I thought, I’m going to carry the Kindle and the iPad,” he says. “But I’m looking in my bag, and the Kindle isn’t in it.”

Both O’Neal and Ford take their iPads to church, using the Bibles they’ve downloaded. O’Neal’s app allows him to call up chapter and verse on one side of the screen and take notes on the other side.

While the iPad is getting a workout in owners’ personal lives, it’s also becoming a staple at the office. O’Neal used his iPad during his State of the City address, scrolling down the speech like a teleprompter would.

The jury’s still out on whether the iPad will replace the laptop. Knauer points to the iPad’s lack of a USB port, but O’Neal says the iPad can meet his laptop needs. Either way, frequent travelers Raley and Ford say the iPad can definitely be the mobile device of choice.

“I could find myself traveling without a laptop,” Ford says. “Frankly, I think I’m bringing a laptop now out of comfort.”