PLM, iPad and High Impact Technical Documentation

Oh, yes… iPad is finally here. Do you think it will create new opportunities to PLM vendors? This is a first example I just took from the Alltop news stream. Hyundai has announced that all new buyers of the Equus luxury sedan will receive an Apple iPad, one that comes pre-loaded with a digital version of the car’s owner’s manual.

It opens an interesting opportunity, in my view. The interest in Technical Documentation and Publishing is high. PLM vendors invested a significant effort development and acquisitions of such tools. Products like 3DVIA Composer, PTC Arbortext, TeamCenter Content Management, Autodesk Inventor Publisher and other. The question when we’ll have iPad Apps tuned to use a content generated by technical publishing apps? Is it an opportunity in your view?

Best, Oleg



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  • You probably don’t know this but there is already a ”silent” software in the technical publication realm that has been using 3D data quite successfully for some time-Cortona3D.
    This software already has some huge clients which include military and private sectors.
    You have to keep in mind that there is a difference between authoring tools, publishing tools and content management tools. In your list above you include at least one from each toolset.
    I feel that I-Pad, as sleek and sexy as it is, is just not ready for the area that technical publications deal with. Who in their right mind is going to spend the money on an I-Pad and tote that around inside service bays? They are way too fragile for this kind of work. Remember for the same price I could have a full blown netbook- I know that’s not saying much- but think about it.
    You also have to look at some serious caveats with the I-Pad.
    1. No multi-tasking. How the heck are you going to use a PLM solution on this tool if you can’t multi-task?
    2. You can’t run a different browser! Ouch. I don’t see too many PLM Vendors in a hurry to port their software.
    3. You have to buy from the app store. Image what the price would be for a PLM App! If you were to look at the cost of the apps for the I-Pad and compare them to them to the apps for itouch/iphone you will see a huge price difference.
    I feel a better question is: Who will be the first to market a viewer application for the I-Pad? In my opinion that would be probably be Dassault Systems with 3DVIA Composer. They seem to like keep to the current fad and show off the gadgets which make some “neat” marketing images but not very good technical publication/authoring “documents”.
    My next question would be a realistic question. Who in their right mind is going to spend the money on an I-Pad and tote that around inside service bays? They are way too fragile for this kind of work. Remember for the same price I could have a full blown netbook- I know that’s not saying much- but think about it and remember caveat 1.
    Anyway, Cortona3D has been delivering 3D content via the web for years already. Heck I use it on my Blackberry from time to time.

  • Vladimir

    interesting, thank you. I’ve checked this solution on their (Cortona3D) website and found that it’s based on VRML. I remember we had 3D model of truck from our customer and I exported this model to VRML and the file was quite “huge”. I have tried this on SGI graphics workstation (that time it was pretty powerfull HW w/ Unix) and it was nice but hardly for usage.
    Definitely this is very interesting idea for technical learning and also for MRO business.

  • Rayn, Thank you for comments and links! Actually, I’m aware about Cortona3D (via Parallel Graphics). I have few comments/answers on what you figured out.
    1. I’m not considering iPad as a replacement for netbook/notebook. This is another type of device. The big difference is “cool” factor. People are ready to pay lots of money for “cool” devices, and I’d not underestimate it. When iPhone first came, lots of folks said, there is no chance to replace BB in the corporate market. Not true!
    2. Technical documentation is not only for “service bays”. This is also for management, marketing, sales offices, presentations, end-users (like Hyundai example in this post). So, these folks understand very well what means to have respect and slick experience. I’d expect iPad to rock in these places first. These people also don’t understand multi-tasking. I made such a try on non-techie people with iPhone asking them about multi-tasking. The answer was 100% positive- iPhone is multi-tasking :). Don’t forget, Apple made asynch tasking for proprietary apps like messages, mails, etc.
    3. Browsers, App Store, Price… – all these things are driven by market. 3DVIA made app for iPhone. Why? It was the most impressive app presented on many shows. So, I’d expect PLM providers to catch these opportunities and deliver various apps. Otherwise, somebody else will do it.
    4. Who will come first with app in tech documentation field? I’d expect probably 3DVIA, since they already have iPhone app and this is almost the same development. However, other PLM (and non-PLM) vendors can do it too…
    Best, Oleg

  • Vladimir, I agree with you! MRO field can be another interesting application of iPad. However, I’d let management, marketing and sales people to explore it first :)… I believe, future versions of a device as well as competition will make them cheaper in the next couple of years, so more chances to see them in the field. Best, Oleg

  • Just a short message as i was reading an article on the Ipad. the Ipad is going to be available next week in France, and the iPad name doesn’t belong to them. STMicroelectronics holds it. It was the same in the US where Fujitsu had the brand Ipad but sold it to apple before it came on the market.
    I don’t think it will affect the Ipad launch, i’m just curious to follow the STMicroelectronics stock value!
    Apparently for the Iphone, Cisco was still the owner of the name 6 month after it came on the market.

  • Yoann, I believe Apple can/will resolve these problems. Think, if Autodesk made agreements on DWG, Apple should be ok as well :)… Best, Oleg

  • Yay ipad!