One of the first sessions at the ABA meeting had Tom Mighell and Nerino Petro, two legal tech experts, talking about using tablet computers in the practice of law. Essentially they took us through the competitors and their comparative advantages.
(I must say one thing at the start: there was no wifi; there is no wifi at all at the ABA meeting. This is almost impossible to believe and very hard to understand today.)
Here’s how I understood what I heard.
Apple’s iPad is clearly in the lead. For one thing, Apple has an 18-month head start on the others, which means that there’s a large number of apps available to lawyers, something that’s not true for Android-based tablets. As well, the iPad got praised for its stability, long battery life, and available security settings.
Android tablets have some real advantages, though, that are likely to give these machines the edge, when the apps start rolling in: they handle multi-tasking better than the iPad; unlike the iPad they have a file system; they accept flash drives; they run Flash; and the apps don’t have to come through a corporate bottleneck, as is the case with Apple’s App Store. I’d add that as yet, Apple has the edge so far as the hardware and their ability to stand behind it are concerned.
RIM, of course, has the PlayBook, but neither of the presenters had any familiarity with this new tablet, and so weren’t able to offer much by way of evaluation.
A fourth player, still rare on the market, is Windows-based tablets. These have the obvious advantage of running exactly the same apps as you’d find on your Windows desktop.
There was a lot of discussion of apps, essentially all iPad apps, that are specifically tailored to lawyers. I’ll make these the subject of another post later on today.