Any of you who know me, or have ever read my Apple rants will know, I can’t stand the Apple thing. The whole cult of it makes me feel slightly queasy, and I don’t care much for their products, for me, personally. They serve no useful purpose in my life, and feel a lot like Playskool toys in both physical design and UI. However, I think their marketing is *incredible* and I learn a lot from it, and I have worked for them as a consultant in the past (emerging technologies & community engagement) – so from a business point of view I find them obviously, very interesting. What they’ve created in branding is really fantastic.
Anyway, now I’ve re-iterated my *personal* stance on Apple, let’s move on.
In my line of work, I advise clients on all manner of things web and technology, but the two constants in my work are technology communities and future tech. I need to know what’s happening, where, who’s there, who WILL be there, and what messages can be delivered through what mediums. It’s about understanding audiences in general, not just thinking of your audience as what you personally like. For those of you thinking, "MARKETING!" you’re sort of right. But what I tend to lean towards is more about message delivery and participation, which I think is a bit different, but does come from a marketing style approach. I can only think to call it community engagement, but that does feel a bit wanky (excuse my language). So bearing that in mind, not owning and completely understanding the iPad and it’s followers wouldn’t work out. So business me owns one, even though personal me would not.
On first use, the iPad is really amusing. I couldn’t get away from feeling a lot like Dom Jolly with an over sized iPhone. I was tempted to pick it up and shout HELLO! NO, I CAN’T TALK RIGHT NOW – I’M IN THE APPLE STORE! That soon goes though (after about 5 mins of sniggering) and it’s time to move on to But What Does It Do.
It seems to me to be one of the best innovations for young children I’ve come across yet. A friend of mine, Graham Brown-Martin showed me his 4 year old daughter playing educational games on his. This was the moment the penny dropped for me, and made me quite literally rush out the next day and get one. Seeing Nemi playing with it and *getting it* within the first few minutes of ever seeing one and the game she’s playing, was absolutely astonishing. This v1 iPad thing may not be something I’m interested in personally, but the next generations of them (in particular on a more open OS such as Android) are, and will undoubtedly feature in my children’s lives and be what they grow up knowing.
One of the points that I often come up against with my anti-Apple opinion are from those who think that open = bad. Well, in explanation as to why I think it’s good (and so will be a] jailbreaking my iPad very soon and b] selling it as soon as the Android equivalent is on the market) is that the ability to completely control the technology I own is incredibly important to me. Seeing the faults in the iPad that I can now, and not being able to recify them is frustrating. For example, Android on my HTC Magic allows me to run child specific apps which can change/lock down every part of the system and it’s buttons. This means when Nemi plays with Toddler Lock, or other apps, if she hits the power button or menu key, it doesn’t flop out back to a menu screen where she can be rather disruptive! So with all the games on my iPad for her, I have to be within arms reach at all times in case she goes back to menu. It’s a small example, but you get my point (I hope). There are plenty more, Google for them if you’re interested.
The other massive downside on the iPad is the lack of Flash. No really, it’s a total killer for me. So far, it’s affected (watch out, Thayer stat ahead) about 30% of my browsing. Sites just not displaying, or sites like BBC CBeebies being unusable. Ridiculous. You’re sat with something that is perfectly placed as an educational device, and it’s primary function is web access – and yet it doesn’t support one of the more frequently used technologies of the current web world. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
And my last big bug bear – lack of multitasking. Why, oh why, oh why. There are more things that are pretty crap with it too, but for sake of not turning this into a ranty novel I’ll stop there.
The good stuff is that a few of the custom made apps are really slick. It really does feel like a peek into what’s coming up. The NY Times app is a superb starter for ten on how newspapers are keeping up with technology, and how this is a platform they can really enjoy and utilise. So far in fact, I would say the newspaper / magazine route plus the kids one mentioned above are my primary wins on this platform.
Lastly, something I wanted to mention regards first gen iPads in this post is about the "leapfrog" market I keep hearing more and more about. It’s not *just* your early adopters who are pushing sales of these types of devices, but also those who are at the other end of the spectrum – technology snails. An example being someone who has bought a personal cassette player in the 80s. It’s worked fine, they don’t want any new music or technology. Then one day, say 2005 it finally gives up the ghost. It’s died. They never got round to buying a personal CD player, they never saw the point – their Walkman worked fine. But now, they may as well get an mp3 player. It’s worth the learning curve and they can’t find a decent new cassette player anywhere. This market can add up to a vast amount of extra sales (10% in the last article I read, courtesy of the New York Times) on the first year launch of a new product. Very interesting indeed, to those of you like me who are interested in the commercial side of all this as well. For those who have a pc finally unable to cope with today’s processor and memory intensive web, it could be a better solution than a net book.. Worth bearing that in mind.
Right my lunch has arrived. I’ll post more in a week or so with some app recommendations and with further experience of the platform.