I had the pleasure of attending TabLifeTO, a half-day conference organized by Rogers Communications. It was a morning of exploring the cultural and business impact of the iPad and what more is to come along with it’s emerging competing devices.

Tablet war? Not really.

First speaker was Duncan Stewart from Deloitte Canada Research who gave us a run down of current (realistic) tablet statistics and some very realistic predictions. Most notably, Windows users will want to have a complete Windows experience across all their devices so naturally most Windows users will prefer to buy a Windows tablet. I agree. At the very least, I prefer to get an iPad so that I could have the complete Apple experience.

Later, at the end of the conference, we were given a demo of RIM’s vapourware upcoming PlayBook. It was my first time seeing it in action and I was disappointed to see that it looks and acts just like the iPad (same with the Galaxy Tab), Blackberry users will naturally want to complete the Blackberry experience and prefer to get the PlayBook. Tablet war? Not really. Maybe among consumers who don’t own an iPhone or a Blackberry, however in the enterprise, I really can’t see RIM having anything to worry about. My thinking is the demographic that actually cares about a tablet war is divided between hardcore Apple fanboys, hardcore Blackberry users, and hardcore Apple haters Android fanboys.

I’m not a full believer of publish once, read anywhere (read: comics)

Duncan also elaborated on the the move towards an increased use of native apps over web apps. I’m used to hearing how web apps is the way of the future because they are open, device-independent, etc., however, according to Duncan, native apps provide the benefit of a customized user experience (very important) and push notification. Duncan reported that over 90% of web apps will need to be customized to the device. I’m thinking it also depends on the decisions of the app makers. It’s Windows vs. Mac, Beta vs. VHS all over again (groan). Or worse, the siloed Internet 20 years ago (read: Compuserv, AOL, GEnie).

Command center and workflow

We also heard from Rogers marketing executive, John Boynton, who presented on how Rogers will market the tablet as the “command center”. This command center allows users to set PVRs remotely, real-time home monitoring and the most apparently foreseeable screen in every room of the home.

While many complain lament about the absence of a file system and USB port on the iPad, hospitals use the device for workflow. Keeping accurate patient records from one health practitioner to the next.  As well as the security of not having to worry about misplacing USB keys containing sensitive information. You can’t remote-wipe a USB key.

No, RIM, it is not “just a bigger cellphone” and Angry Birds

Fantastically engaging speaker, Rhonda McEwan, of U of T, presented her research into the iPad proving to be an effective communications mediator for Autistic children. Including having the ability to remove the social stigma associated with austism by simply looking like a regular familiar mobile device to the world. I’ll blog more about this in the future.

Rogers TabLife TO video: Tablets and Autism Case Study from Rogers Buzz on Vimeo.

Back to hospitals and doctor’s offices: imagine being able to direct message clinics instead of getting a dead end trying to call them to ask a simple question. How many times have you tried calling the doctor’s office and got nowhere? Tablets provide a direct, constant communication link between patient and health staff.  This application came from the use of iPads in reducing the frustration of access for wounded American soldiers. Direct messaging and information about their ailments at their fingertips provided soldiers with more efficient healthcare resulting in a speedier recovery.

I was really impressed with SAP’s demo of their realtime business analytics app for the iPad. It pulls in all the data and displays all the charts, graphs, trends and executive performance at the click of a button a tap of… um… and icon. The sweetspot is you can email any data to the executive. The even sweeter spot is there’s no need to create a separate PowerPoint presentation! All the data is there. Just show the app.

Content will be enhanced. Shapeshifting. Content will be social. There is a current shift towards users wanting to belong to a community. This made me think about my graphic novel in progress. I pondered how I could make it a social novel. What will it look like in community form?

I’m really excited about the opportunities tablets of all brands will bring in the near future. We’ve already seen the many unexpected benefits the iPad has brought forth after only a year in existence. Imagine the possibilities with a screen in every room.