Important Concepts and a More Personal Approach to the iPad January 30, 2010

Well, given my new commitment to blogging and the just announced iPad from Apple, I guess it’s hard for me not to post something about it.

Problems are:
where to begin
pretty much everything and more has already been said.
I was going for the Random thought about blablabla… until John Gruber posted his Various and Assorted Thoughts and Observations Regarding the Just-Announced iPad. So, after a quick round up of some of the good reads of the last couple of days, I’ll take a more personal approach (mixed with a few things I consider in need to be said, again).

One of the best reads was probably Fraser Speirs‘ piece rightly called Future Shock.
He doesn’t talk about the iPad, but more of the biggest scam of the last century: computers are not for everyone, despite what they are trying to sell us, and how the guys over at Apple tries to solve this problem.
And that’s what trolls, screaming their pain about the lack of front-facing camera or a Flash plugin, are missing.
This revolution (yes, it is one) is not about the device, it’s about a new way of using computers.
I wrote a piece 3 years ago about this. Every words are still up to date, and the iPad is a new, soon to be good, answer.
About those trolls, by the way, here is a really good word to them (and the following one is not bad either).

Here ends the recommended readings.
For the ones about wether or not the iPad has a USB connection or a video output, you’re on your own
(and try to think a little bit and find the answer yourself. If you can’t, here is the Macworld FAQ).

As for the things already said elsewhere, but that really matter, they are simple.
The success of the iPad is not tied to the design of the product, or even the OS.
It’s the Content: The Apps that will enable it with the perfect function for you, or the new way of experiencing medias.
Dan Lyons a.k.a. Fake Steve Jobs wrote a great piece, capturing the essence of the iPad, months before its announcement.
Let me repeat : It’s the Content.

In that way, the NY Times application mock up that was presented during the keynote is far from being anecdotal.
D Day minus 60, there is already a new-ish way of experiencing medias.
Pause a minute, and try to imagine what this device will enable in, say, two years from now.
And what goes for News goes for Comics (remember the Marvel buyout by Jobs-(partially)-owned Disney) or Movies.
In a word: Stories.
How will the iPad tell stories in very few years from now.
This is mind blowing.

The iPad is a device to access content, instead of creating content.
It’s brilliant: Youtube’s stats show there is a 0.2% contribution ratio.
In our case, it means that for 1 person uploading a video (needing a not-iPad computer), 499 can view it on their iPad.

The iPad will redefine a lot of things (in addition to being a tremendous success). That’s what Gruber knows already, of course, when he calmly collects quotes for his delicious future claim chowders.

All that is great sport, and it’s a really enjoyable (if collateral) part of Apple’s business.
Let’s get things down, to a more personal level.

Every last Apple announcements were pretty much the same.
A few talks before “yeah, I’m a cool kid, I heard about The Rumor”.
Then come the announcement, and then: The Vending Machine Conversations.
Those are just the funniest things.
Three kind of people here:
iPhone owner since day one, or two, not necessarily Apple fanboy, just the guy who knows what it feels, what difference it makes.
He’s sold on the iPad, even if he might not buy one.
Then, there’s the recently-purchased iPhone owner. This one doesn’t really care. If he stumbles upon an iPad, he will let himself be dragged in. Until ten, wait and see.
Last, there is the “I on’t need an iPhone, I’m good with my useless Blackberry” type,
going in concert with the “I don’t own anything digital, I’m a rebel” kind.
Those people have a real problem with computers. Not that they don’t use one, far from it. Most are power users. Windows users usually, but advanced non the less.
They have a problem with their digital lives, and they wait for companies, like Apple, to solve it. Except that even they can’t define their own problem. They don’t even know they have one.
Apple rumors lead them to hope, and obviously, they are disappointed. Thus comes the Rage.
“Humpf, I prefer my Archos, it hold 160GB. iPad’s lame.”
“I was expecting a computer I can use with Illustrator and Photoshop, but when I’m away, you know. iPad’s lame.”
“Apple really blew smoke to our face all these last weeks. iPad’s lame.”

Oh boy! These moments are really precious..
Well, for you I have just one thing. You’re a morron. Not for not wanting or needing an iPad, just for not understanding how game changing it is, even with you not needing one.

Reading the trolls on the Internet is fun. Hearing them from your office chair: priceless.

So, what the iPad means, for me, in my day to day life ?

I already know that I will buy 3 of them in the next 12 months.
One for me.
Not that I need it, but I’m a geek Apple fanboy.
One for my wife.
We were pretty set on buying her a MacBook, to complete her iMac, in casual web browsing, mail reading or video watching moments.
The iPad fits perfectly here. It’s not a mobile use per se (as in “out of the home”), it’s a comfy-in-the-couch use.
And the third one will be for my son.
He will probably inherit mine when I upgrade to the 2nd generation iPad.
Those who know me, also know that he will be between 30 and 36 month old by then.
What ? WTF ? An iPad for a 3 years old kids ?
Yes and definitely yes.
The iPad will solve many broken use case we, as parents, are facing.
At 2 (and for the last year), he’s been using our iPhones, playing games we bought for him, watching little funny videos of him and his cousin, or just playing with those funny little pictures that moves all around.
It’s amazing to see how natural Apple’s touch interface is to a 2 years old kid.
So he will play on the iPad.
Then there are movies. Sometimes, he watches animated movies on a portable DVD player. Clunky, fragile (the player and the DVD), no real battery and a horrible screen. Once ripped, all those cartoons will hold in his iPad.
It will become the perfect entertaining/learning device, at 1.5 pounds.

Also, I’m seriously considering replacing my mother’s MacBook with an iPad.
Simplifying her approach to computer.
I might have to wait for printing support first, though.

Then there is this email from my brother, the day after the announcement:
“I have a crush on the iPad. Will need one.”
He’s not a power user, he works with a Windows PC and a Blackberry, and owns an iMac for web surfing, photos and music.
The iPad will be the perfect companion to its digital life.

I will close this post with what might be the most lethal feature: the price.
Having an entry level model at $500 is just a brilliant move.
Competition is left sitting in the mud, an it puts the iPad in range of almost any electronic consumer good.
Considering you will be able to do many different things with it, the iPad will very often be an interesting alternative.
This is one of the rare product for which Apple is leaving his fat margin away to secure market shares fast.
They want to impose the iPad and the concepts that goes with it to the biggest audience.
If they succeed, computers will never be the same.