We have the iPad! Now what?
So, I caved on Saturday and bought an iPad. I hadn’t planned to buy one. Nevertheless, I found myself briefly standing in line for it.
I didn’t get up early, mind you. I had a late breakfast with my family, ran a few errands with my 11 year old son, then we went to the Apple store without an appointment to get the iPad.
That’s 30,000 more units than the initial sales of the iPhone – for a product no one is sure how they’re going to use.
Apparently, a lot of us changed our mind, gave in, and bought one.
When my son and I got to the Apple store in a local mall at about noon, Apple had separate airport security-style lines setup for those with appointments and those without. Two county sheriff’s deputies stood by the door just in case we lost control. The Apple store was packed, and like a hot nightclub, we had to wait in line until an Apple employee (and the deputies) let us go in.
We only waited fifteen minutes or so, but frankly, I was a little surprised how busy it was. In fact, by the time we came out, the line had gotten pretty long and was probably a 30-45 minute wait.
Driving away from the mall, iPad in hand, I suddenly felt like we were channeling the Modern Family episode about the iPad. “I’m the first one in the family to touch the iPad!” one of us exclaimed. I won’t reveal who. “Oooh, feel how light. It’s so beautiful!” Goodness. Fortunately, no one had to feign serious illness to get one.
I’d like to tell you all the great ways people will use this thing and how it’s going to make modern life so much easier. Frankly, I’ve barely been able to touch the thing. Every kid in the neighborhood played with it all day long Saturday. I tried to use it for a reference while I was cooking Sunday, but somebody kept picking it up and using it for something else.
For once, I didn’t even have to do all the setup work. My kids started it up and did everything. They only needed me to enter my password once or twice. I did watch the process over their shoulders. As with other Apple setup processes, it was frighteningly easy.
When I did get a chance to use it (after the kids went to bed), I think it works as promised. The screen is amazing. I think it completely changes web browsing. Sunday morning, I sat on the back porch in the bright spring sun wearing sunglasses and realized I had no problem seeing the screen at all. My laptop should be so easy to see.
Later I read some news websites not necessarily optimized for the iPad and found it much easier and pleasant to do than on my computer. The iPad somehow turns web browsing into a relaxing “lean-back” experience rather than a work-related “lean-forward” experience. Maybe it’s just because the iPad was brand new and it was Easter Sunday. But maybe something’s different.
I’m reading a classic, thick paperback book right now. It’s heavy. I’ve found it uncomfortable to hold it while reading in bed, or even on the couch. I’ve lugged it on two plane rides and it’s not easy to fit both my book in the seatback pocket and my knees in the same airplane seat.
I downloaded the same book for free using the new iBook app. I laid on my back for a half an hour with the iPad above me or laying beside me on the bed and didn’t have any problems at all. I generally was even able to pick up the physical book when it was convenient and read, then go to the iPad later on and continue reading from the page I stopped at in the physical book. I was surprised at how seamless an experience it was.
So how does the iPad change things? Well, it might not. However, the sales are already happening so odds are the iPad will at least influence the future, if it doesn’t end up completely changing how we do things.
First, I think the iPad merges ecommerce and mobile commerce. I can’t imagine an easier online shopping experience. Just as smartphones, like the iPhone, increasingly let us purchase on a whim, the iPad is easy to tote and provides the best web experience I’ve seen so far. The iPad isn’t likely to be with us 24×7 like our phones, but it’s likely to be with us more than a laptop or netbook. I can imagine a mom taking her iPad while at her daughter’s soccer practice. The iPad is ideal for riding in a plane, train, or car. In short, like smartphones, the iPad encourages us to take it along and provides an opportunity to connect with retailers, banks, and anyone else whenever we want. New opportunities to purchase from online retailers are going to present themselves because the iPad is easy and useful to take along.
Secondly, like the iPhone, I think the iPad will become a major gaming platform. Even with just a few optimized games, the iPad kept a neighborhood full of kids engaged all afternoon Saturday. The screen, processor, and other form factors are ideal for gaming. It’s just a matter of time before an avalanche of games are available.
Third, the iPad may affect TV watching and it may make it easier to monetize what’s offered for free on sites like Hulu and CastTV (although I hope not, I use them a lot).
So is it worth $500? I don’t know yet. It’s cool, but I don’t know how to justify it.
Maybe I should just stop trying.