Published: Sunday, March 13, 2011, 7:00 AM Updated: Sunday, March 13, 2011, 1:41 PM Rex Larsen | the Grand Rapids PressMolly Bourbeau writes her signature on an iPad for her credit card coffee purchase at Rowster new American Coffee, 632 Wealthy St. SE. Co-owner Stephen Kurtis, right, said the paperless transaction sent a receipt to Bourbeau’s e-mail.
GRAND RAPIDS — as customers buy roasted beans at Rowster new American Coffee, an Apple iPad takes care of everything from a credit-card swipe to electronic proof of payment.
There’s no cash register, no computer and no paper receipts.
The eight-month-old roaster/cafe at 632 Wealthy St. SE is among the many businesses which have made iPad a central part of their operation. That is perhaps most remarkable because the iPad has been available for less than a year.
With this month’s debut of the iPad 2, along with a slew of similar tablet computers expected to hit shelves this year, the integration of these high-tech slabs into business is only expected to continue.
“It’s nice because it’s really flexible,” said co-owner Stephen Kurtis, who learned the method from a coffee shop in San Francisco. “It’s more interactive than the traditional point-of-sale system.”
While some saw the electronic tablet as a consumer toy when it was introduced in early 2010, West Michigan companies — from manufacturing firms to nursing facilities to small businesses such as Rowster — embraced it with gusto.
At Amway, 200 iPads are in use, simply for the convenience factor. Amway has orders in for the iPad 2, which packs a faster processor and two built-in cameras among other new features.
“It’s so easy to carry and check your e-mail with, compared to lugging a PC and starting it to boot up,” said Kurt Ludlow, Amway vice president of global IT infrastructure. “We’re certainly going to be increasing the use. we have some people asking for them regularly.”
Padding the lead
Apple says the tablet has been tested or deployed at 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies.
One analyst forecasts 82 million Americans will have iPads or similar tablets by 2015. “I estimate that 40 percent of those will be used at least some time in a work setting. That makes it the fastest growing device ever in history,” said Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, a market research advising company.
Bill Smith, owner of CompuCraft, an independent Apple store, 620 Stocking Ave. NW, said his biggest customer base for iPads is corporate clients.
“It’s really much broader than we originally thought,” he said. “most of the market assumed it would be an additional mobile device. I don’t think anyone predicted how fast and deep it would go.”
Apple is expected to ship 43.7 million iPads this year and 63.3 million in 2012, up from an estimated 14 million in 2010, according to information from industry tracker iSuppli.
Ideal in a fast-paced world
So what turned the eye of professionals to the skinny rectangular device that gleams with intriguing icons?
Rex Larsen | the Grand Rapids PressKurt Stauffer, of Rowster new American Coffee, left, demonstrates how a swipe of a charge card on a Square device, attached to the top of an iPad, can easily pay for a customer’s purchase.
The “instant-on” quality and 10-hour battery life are appealing to today’s mobile workforce.
“Anytime an employee is consuming information, responding briefly to something, or reviewing something with another person, a tablet is perfect,” Schadler said.
The speed is important to Chris Nicely, vice president of marketing at Holland Home, where nurses and aides have used iPads for six months at the Raybrook, Fulton and Breton skilled-nursing facilities.
Stationed in hallways for input of patient information immediately following care, data entry requires a few quick touches.
“it feeds right into the care planning software we’ve had for 10 years,” Nicely said. “we are exactly documenting what we are doing at the time we are doing it.”
Rowster’s iPad is outfitted with a Square device. it was created by Twitter inventor Jack Dorsey to swipe credit cards. the screen allows customers to sign with their fingertip. Moments later, the receipt is texted or e-mailed to the coffee buyer.
All data is saved online, so there is no worry about losing information, Kurtis said.the Square puts cash from transactions in his account.
Put to good uses
Publisher Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Ave. SE, uses iPads for referencing titles, formatting manuscripts and accessing its library, said Paul Engle, senior vice president and publisher.
“I can carry well over 1,000 books on my iPad, so I have access to that huge library,” he said.
He also uses it for taking notes using the popular service and app Evernote.
“it has replaced my physical notepads that I used to carry around,” he said.
Rex Larsen | the Grand Rapids PressAlex Ehlert, sales manager for furniture maker Woodways, uses an iPad to access the company’s files while video-conferencing with one of the company’s owners. the company uses the iPad to continuously update its server from various locations, ensuring up-to-date information.
At Woodways, a cabinet and furniture manufacturer at 4265 28th St. SE, sales and product information are referenced on iPads, co-owner Suzanne Rudnitzki said.
A positive for a company that creates sawdust is that, unlike a laptop, the iPad does not have a fan that sucks in dust. That helps the furniture maker save money.
“we kill laptops in the first 30 days,” she said.
RC Productions, a Muskegon-based interactive marketing firm, uses the iPad as a new channel to deliver content and messages to clients, said Michael Davis, director of interactive.
They can use the tablet to upload a video for a client to view remotely then make adjustments and edits.
“it gives us a way to connect with other iPad users to view and critique their work,” he said.
Not a one-size-fits-all
Despite its strengths in many areas, Schadler said he doesn’t think iPads are good content-creation devices.
He said apps for reviewing and creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations require retraining.
The lack of Microsoft Office and a mouse also are hindrances to some.
“so, people that spend a lot of time creating documents — about 30 percent of the U.S. information workforce — will always need a (more traditional) computer,” he said.
“Probably only 10 percent of employees could live with just a tablet every day.”