“What can I do with it that I can’t do with a laptop or an iPhone?” they might now be objecting. “Too big for my pocket, not big enough for serious use. Don’t see the need. It’s a solution looking for a problem.”
There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking, still no Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgment until you’ve spent five minutes with it”. No YouTube film, no promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and interacting with one of these magical objects. You know how everyone who has ever done Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? always says, “It’s not the same when you’re actually here. So different from when you’re sitting at home watching.”? You know how often you’ve heard that? Well, you’ll hear the same from anyone who’s handled an iPad. The moment you experience it in your hands you know this is class. This is a different order of experience. The speed, the responsiveness, the smooth glide of it, the richness and detail of the display, the heft in your hand, the rightness of the actions and gestures that you employ, untutored and instinctively, it’s not just a scaled up iPhone or a scaled-down multitouch enhanced laptop – it is a whole new kind of device. And it will change so much. Newspapers, magazines, literature, academic text books, brochures, fliers and pamphlets are going to be transformed (poor Kindle). Specific dedicated apps and enhancements will amaze us. You will see characters in movies use the iPad. Jack Bauer will want to return for another season of 24 just so he can download schematics and track vehicles on it. Bond will have one. Jason Bourne will have one. Some character, in a Tron like way, might even be trapped in one.
There’s much to like of course. The physical beauty and classy build quality, as in anything designed by Jonathan Ive. The shockingly low price — $499 for the basic model. The contract-free, unlocked nature of the 3G version. But there are two chief reasons for its guaranteed success.
1. It is SO SIMPLE. It is basically a highly responsive capacitative piece of glass with solid state memory and an IPS display. Just as a book is basically paper bound together in a portable form factor. The simplicity is what allows everyone, us, software developers, content providers and accessory manufacturers to pour themselves into it, to remake it according to the limits of their imagination. I’ll stop before I get too Disney.
2. It is made by Apple. I’m not being cute here. If it was made by Hewlett Packard, they wouldn’t have global control over the OS or the online retail outlets. If it was made by Google, they would have tendered out the hardware manufacture to HTC. Apple — and it is one of the reasons some people distrust or dislike them — control it all. They’ve designed the silicon, the A4 chip that runs it all, they’ve designed the batteries, they’ve overseen every detail of the commercial, technological, design and software elements. No other company on earth does that. And being Apple it hasn’t been released without (you can be sure) Steve Jobs being wholly convinced that it was ready. “Not good enough, start again. Not good enough. Not good enough. Not good enough.” How many other CEOs say until their employees want to murder them? That’s the difference.
Slightly annoying that the iPhone autocorrects iPad into upas – which is a kind of poison mulberry I believe… you can bet that omission in the iPhone’s glossary will change with the upcoming release of iPhone OS 4.0.
I have always thought Hans Christian Andersen should have written a companion piece to the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which everyone points at the Emperor shouting, in a Nelson from the Simpson’s voice, “Ha ha! He’s naked.” And then a lone child pipes up, ‘No. He’s actually wearing a really fine suit of clothes.” And they all clap hands to their foreheads as they realise they have been duped into something worse than the confidence trick, they have fallen for what E. M. Forster called the lack of confidence trick. How much easier it is to distrust, to doubt, to fold the arms and say “Not impressed”. I’m not advocating dumb gullibility, but it is has always amused me that those who instinctively dislike Apple for being apparently cool, trendy, design fixated and so on are the ones who are actually so damned cool and so damned sensitive to stylistic nuance that they can’t bear to celebrate or recognise obvious class, beauty and desire. The fact is that Apple users like me are the uncoolest people on earth: we salivate, dribble, coo, sigh, grin and bubble with delight.