I was among those waiting with bated breath to see what Steve Jobs would be unveiling last Wednesday morning at the latest Apple event.
I was among those really impressed and excited by what I saw when the iPad was unveiled. I’m not really surprised about the many who are jumping on the critical bandwagon, but I think they are missing something big.
First, about the name. As someone tweeted a few days ago, there are lots of people who still giggle about male and female plugs. Kinda silly, I think. Picking a name is really hard, especially one that’s not already mostly taken. I don’t think the name is all that important.
What I think many of the critics miss is that I believe the iPad is aimed at people like me.
I’m a baby boomer. But I love technology. And I especially love it when it loves me back.
Here’s an example: For years, I had a cell phone. I could barely use it…I could never remember, for example, exactly what combination of buttons I needed to hit to retrieve a voice mail. I could never remember how to text. And texting was just way too much trouble. And so on. While I wanted to love my cell phone, I felt it hated me and wanted to make my life as difficult as possible.
Granted, I’ve been a Mac person since 1986. I remember using a DOS PC at work in the mid-80s, struggling to make flyers with Harvard Graphics. OMG, it almost killed me. I could tell it hated me intensely. What took me 6 hours at work, I did in 15 minutes on my Mac Plus when I got home. I felt like my Mac wanted my life and work to be easy. It wanted me to spend my energy being creative rather than wrestling with remembering command lines, trying to change and move text with command lines, etc. I did better work, learned more faster, tapped into more creativity, etc. as a result of my Mac.
It’s not that my brain wasn’t capable of doing geeky stuff. I took a computer programming course in 1971 in my last quarter in college at the University of Chicago and got an A. That was in the day when you turned your punch cards in to be run through the mainframe overnight. In that class, we learned several languages and had to invent our own programming language. It was hard, but I loved the hell out of it. (I even remember the error message I invented… I thought it was so cool I figured out to tell exactly what card the error was on, so in celebration, I wrote this error message: “Roses are red, violets are blue, Card #6 is fucked up, and so are you.” We found way to make everything fun in the late 60s/early 70s, didn’t we??? :))
I loved understanding how computers worked, the whole flow chart binary logic decision tree thing, and so forth. Having that very basic knowledge made me not afraid of technology when it came to every home and workplace several years later. I was a fairly early adopter, especially when the Mac came along because it exactly matched my brain.
But I digress.
When the iPhone came along, I was one of those in line at 6 p.m. on launch day at the Pioneer Place Apple Store in downtown Portland. From what I had heard, I would finally have a cell phone that loved me back. And I was so right! Bascially, in less than 5 minutes, I had figured out how to do the whole thing and do it with joy. It really was that good!
Now many of my more geeky friends have looked down on the iPhone because the “phone” part is not geeky enough for them. But I don’t think Apple was trying to make the geekiest possible phone. They were making something incredibly useful for people like me: people who want their devices to be joyful to use.
My iPhone has made my life more joyful and efficient and less stressful and painful. Mostly because I grokked it immediately and it is just effortless and fun.
About the iPad, I’ve been hearing comments like this: “It won’t replace my laptop.” Well, hello, it’s not designed to do that. I’ll still need my laptop for the geekier stuff I do. I wouldn’t dream of doing without it, I’m not looking to get rid of it.
Also: “It doesn’t have a camera.” So what? I’ll still have my iPhone, and use its camera. Or my Flip video cam. Do I really want to hold up a flat thing that is a little less than the size of an 8×10 piece of paper and use it as a camera. Hell no. I want something I can whip around with one hand with essentially no effort (and allows me to be a little discreet sometimes).
Also: “It’s just a bigger iPod touch.” Uh, no, not really. Having the iWork suite of programs on it puts it light years ahead of the iPod in my book. Do you know what a joy those programs are to use. Let’s just put it this way: once I did one presentation in Keynote, I could not go back to Powerpoint if you sat on me.
Also, it is big enough for practical book and other print media reading. I don’t enjoy that so much on my iPhone because either the font size stays too small or there’s not enough real estate for enough words. Yes, I have a Kindle (first generation). I’ve loved it, especially the part that makes it possible to download a book and read it immediately. But woe to those of us who buy a Kindle book that has charts, maps or any kind of images. Just an utter fail. Can’t even make them out, and you can’t enlarge them like you can the font text size.
From what I see, the iPad totally overcomes that issue. For magazines and newspapers as well. Have you seen the quality of the photos and images on the iPad. And what you can do to go further??? Looks like it will be another joyful experience! As joyful as reading a dead tree magazine or newspaper, if not more so…
It seems to me that Apple has, once again, found a way to make experiences I like to have more enjoyable. It makes things I love that love me back!
And that’s really Apple’s point, is it not?