How the iPad Is Being Built to Replace Your Laptop

When it comes to the publishing industry, the iPad may not be the savior Rupert Murdoch is looking for. But it may not matter. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is increasingly positioning its tablet as a business device, and even a laptop alternative.

This week, the Mac maker introduced AirPrint for wirelessly printing from any iOS device. The kicker: There's "no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers, and no software to download," Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said in a statement.

AirPrint will be a feature of the forthcoming 4.2 version of iOS. It's built to automatically detect wireless networks in range of an iOS device, and then automatically negotiate printing privileges. Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) printers will be first to support AirPrint, Apple said in announcing the new software.

The feature comes at an interesting time. According to the latest data from researcher ComScore, Android has stolen Windows Mobile's market share and put pressure on the BlackBerry and iOS in the process. That's good news for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) and Android handset sellers Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) and HTC; bad news for Apple, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) .

AirPrint may not provide much relief, but I'm not sure it needs to. What's important is that Apple is focused on making iOS a functional system for mobile business. Adding printing means the more extreme among us could use an iPad as a laptop replacement.

Whether any of us does isn't really the point. Adding low-maintenance business features such as AirPrint should help Apple appeal to corporate technology managers tasked with holding together an infrastructure built to support hundreds of PCs and smartphones.

That's my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Will AirPrint become a competitive advantage for iOS and Apple? Please vote in the poll below and then scroll down to leave a comment to explain your thinking. Don't forget to check back later to see how your fellow Fools are voting.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy can't fit in a three-piece suit. Obviously.


Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2010, at 11:51 AM, Aeoran wrote:

    The entire thesis behind the startling headline of "How The iPad is Being Built to Replace Your Laptop" is that Apple is creating an unconfigurable, proprietary protocol to allow a few select printers from one company in the world to be used from an iPad?

    Mr. Beyers, this is really stretching it.

  • Report this Comment On September 18, 2010, at 1:26 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @Aeoran,

    Thanks for writing.

    "The entire thesis behind the startling headline of "How The iPad is Being Built to Replace Your Laptop" is that Apple is creating an unconfigurable, proprietary protocol to allow a few select printers from one company in the world to be used from an iPad?"

    No, the thesis is that AirPrint is the first of what could be many features and add-ons to make the iPad more functional as a business computer.

    Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

  • Report this Comment On September 19, 2010, at 9:18 AM, Aeoran wrote:

    Thanks for your reply, Tim.

    The thesis seems flawed for two reasons:

    a) It seems a bit premature to project one immature, sparse, unavailable feature into enterprise class utility. It's like seeing some stranger's picture on an online dating site and thinking he/she would make an excellent partner.

    b) Apple not only has no clue what the enterprise wants, it's historically mocked what the enterprise wants. Look at how long it took for them to capitulate on something fundamental like allowing enterprise app deployment without going through iTunes. I seriously doubt anything will happen here, until they show an ounce of interest in what enterprises want.

  • Report this Comment On September 20, 2010, at 7:23 AM, MashkiaTsair wrote:

    Yea !

    I am waiting for your iPad toy to beat my high-end Qosmio laptop on performance !

    It will take your iPad another decade or so to run Oblivion 3D game !

    -MashkiaTsair

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