May 12, 2010, 5:29 PM

Is the iPad truly mobile?

The answer, in my humble opinion, is no.

The answer, in my humble opinion, is no. It is no more mobile than a laptop or even a netbook. If a device can’t fit in your pocket, or non-excessively huge purse, then it’s not mobile. Mobile means 24/7—anytime, anywhere. And you just can’t have an iPad with you like you can an iPhone or other truly mobile device.

The iPad is in the category known as tablet PCs. They are akin to netbooks in that they offer less functionality than a full-on laptop. They are different from netbooks and laptops in their interface, which is typically touchscreen sans a hard keyboard. Tablets are not mobile devices, they are a form of PC. Yes, you can create an app for an iPad. But that’s simply an optimized software experience for the hardware. People create applications for PCs every day, and you certainly can’t fit a PC in your pocket. What’s more, you can shop a standard e-commerce site on an iPad with ease—the screen size of the iPad is barely different than that of basic laptops.

You may be wondering why all the fuss. Well, I track mobile commerce on a day-to-day basis, and the majority of people selling, creating apps for and using iPads insist the iPad is a mobile device. If that’s the case, then activity and sales via the iPad must be considered m-commerce. If it’s not a mobile device, then activity and sales via the iPad are e-commerce. So what’s a mobile researcher and writer to do?

Well, there just isn’t an easy answer yet. So I’m going to watch how consumers use iPad apps, and how they browse and shop e-commerce sites on the device. (Keep an eye on your web logs to measure iPad traffic—and conversion.) And as the mobile commerce channel continues to evolve, we’ll see where retailers attribute sales stemming from the iPad. Hopefully not to m-commerce—because I really dislike when the meaning of words, in this case mobile, are altered to fit the desires of marketers. (Don’t get me started on “marketing-speak.”)

If you believe the iPad is truly a mobile device, I would love to hear your argument. You’ve got all the space you like below. Bring it on.

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