Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why iPhone Personal Hotspot is transformative

Buried in the splashy announcement of iPad2 and iOS 4.3 was the release of Personal Hotspot for the iPhone. Basically Personal Hotspot enables a Wi-Fi hotspot on an iPhone4/3G running iOS 4.3 for up to 3 devices.

My initial reaction was "cool, can't wait to try that out". Configuring it was dead simple. My two kids (age 9 and 11) were able to connect their iPod Touches the first time without any assistance. But what surprised me was the number of different situations in which I used Personal Hotspot and their frequency. A few samples include:
  • sales demos and consulting engagements with my laptop and/or iPad at customer sites where Wi-Fi and LAN access was not permitted for visitors
  • an unplanned week long Internet outage at my home caused by renovations
  • airport lounges where only expensive Wi-Fi was available
  • a surprising number of places that did not have Internet access when time critical workflow approvals (expenses, invoices, travel etc) had to be executed from my laptop
  • situations where secure Wi-Fi was available, but I could not successfully connect on my Windows XP 64 bit laptop (don't get me started on some of the issues with 64 bit XP)
Within weeks some purchases I was considering were dropped, including:
  • a 3G USB stick for my laptop
  • going with the 3G option for an iPad 2
  • a Boingo Wireless unlimited plan
To say that Personal Hotspot is a good app would be a deceptive understatement. A more useful description would be that it is a transformative app. What  is the difference?

A good app is a better mousetrap. A transformative app is a brand new weapon that extends capability, increases productivity and eliminates the need for other technical solutions to solve problems. Good apps improve the way we do things, transformative apps improve our lives. While it is nice to add good apps into our toolkit, it is critical that we incorporate transformative apps to accomplish our stretch goals.

Of course Android has had Wi-Fi hotspot capability long before  iOS 4.3 shipped. Unfortunately I don't have an Android phone. Well, not yet anyways :-)


  1. Very useful post, some great things to consider here. I have been considering the iPad, linking it up to my iPhone with personal hotspot hadn't occurred to me.

  2. Thanks for the comment Emma. Since composing this post I and many colleagues have been connecting their iPads through Personal Hotspot in a variety of situations and locations. Just picked up a Nexus S Android phone yesterday, instead of getting a data plan I will use Personal Hotspot on the iPhone. (Need the Android to demo / test the OpenText Social Workplace Android client).