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LinkedIn gets serious with iPad app

LinkedIn’s new iPad app is pretty impressive. And it sends out a clear signal regarding the direction in which the professional network wishes to go.

The first thing that strikes you upon loading the app for the first time is that it bears very little resemblance to linkedin.com. The slightly awkward screen offering links to a million different things is replaced by three simple options; updates, profile and inbox. It looks good.

But that’s not the reason it’s interesting. It’s what you’re presented with when you select ‘updates’ that is worth talking about.

Forget the boring stream of faces and sentences informing you that these faces have updated their skill set or joined A.N.Other group. This area is designed to be an attractive portal through which all your personal and professional internet needs of the day can be achieved.

It draws on your social graph, showing you stories your friends have shared across the internet, as well as containing more traditional LinkedIn information and content streamed to your specific interest areas. It also syncs with your calendar, creating a one-stop shop for your professional business needs for morning until night. You need go nowhere else.

This is the crux:

Facebook, Google, and – to a slightly lesser extent – Twitter are all competing to become the frame in which you experience the internet. That’s where the big cash is.

LinkedIn has always enjoyed a slightly separate existence to the other major social networks. But the blurring of home and work that is taking place in the physical world is now being reflected online, thanks to this app.

LinkedIn is aiming to become your primary path to the digital world, and in doing so is starting to challenge Facebook and the others in a new, potentially game-changing, way. They will all be taking note.

I’d be interested to hear your opinions; both on the user experience of the new iPad app and also with regard to the strategic motivations behind its launch.