I Love You, iPad, But I Don’t Really Need You.
Well, I almost held out an entire week.
Trying to play it cool, I assured myself (repeatedly), that I didn’t need an iPad.
There was really no pressing need to own it. At all.
Unless, of course, you count lust.
Like a drunk dying for a martini, there I was in the Apple store on Thursday. I timed it like a pro, the salesperson on the phone said: “Our daily ship arrives at noon.”
We breezed in at 12:45: two children, one 85-pound Bernese Mountain dog (I swear, they insisted I bring her in, those perky little Apple helpers) and giddy me. We could have been shooting their friggin’ commercial. We all smiled a lot, the kids showed me how to use the damn thing, our credit card was swiped and the handy white tote bag was in my hand…all in about 30 seconds.
It’s hard to imagine a Medellin drug drop going down more smoothly than this.
So now. The truth.
For those who describe it as a really large iTouch, they’re fundamentally right. But they grossly underestimate the vibrancy that the big screen brings to simple things as email, calendar, video and pictures. It’s nearly mesmerizing it is so beautiful. On this point, I could argue that it is truly the most clever consumer device ever built.
In some respects, it feels superior to a laptop. I can assure you, the interface of my email has never ever been this good on my MacBook. The keyboard feels great. The application store is still thin, but no use betting against this. The bigger size apps (6 or so I have downloaded so far), are in-cred-ible. Marvel comics rocked my kids world.
But before I swoon from my Apple delirium, I will admit to you, I am kind of confused.
While I can’t dispute its superior engineering, I am now a 4-device Apple consumer. It’s excessive. Does this thing do something that my iPhone, laptop, or desktop can’t do? Not really. Except books. Which I is why I really bought it in the first place.
In simple terms, it is hard to see the iPad as more than a luxury item, a gadget fetish. You may recall when I saw the launch of the iPad months ago, I mentioned it was going to be a Kindle killer. Well, hmm, I am not so sure about that. They seem to serve different buyers.
You need to take my comments with a grain of salt because I don’t own the Kindle. But here’s the detail on the iBooks piece:
1. Love that I can change fonts–both size and type to one that is more digestible for me. It’s less about readability and more about, hey–let us fit this to you.
2. Love the highlighting of key passages that get bookmarked and I can refer back to easily. Nice touch that I can change the highlight color and it really looks all uneven like a highlighter. I am feeling productive now!
3. Like the double tap of a word to look it up, or go to Google and/or Wikipedia.
4. Like that buying books go on my visual shelf. Makes me happy every time I look at that damn thing. Thanks for the eye candy. I like to see the covers.
5. Like that turning a page is like turning a page. Thanks for letting me hold on to that.
6. Appreciate that buying books is so ‘frictionless’. They are going to sell me, unfortunately, a lot of books.
1. You can’t hold it in your hand too long while reading, it gets heavy for me. I need to prop it against my knees or in the cross of my lap. This is not a cuddly item.
2. The book selection is down right stinky at this point. As a data point, if you look at 25 books covers on BookSnob right now, Apple has less than 50% of them in iBooks version. I tried to find the next 3 books I was interested in reading. Strike out. I know this will get better with time, but if iBooks is the key driver of your purchase, hold tight.
3. Let’s be clear–it is reading on a screen. I am only about 25 pages into my first iBook, so I can’t say for sure…but it could be a bit hard on the eyes.
It’s hard for me to see the book addicts loving this, and I can see why the Kindle may still be the object of their affection. But may be it is too soon to tell. Hopefully, the book inventory crisis will pass.
So the question is who really NEEDS an iPad?
1. Me. That’s obvious. Thanks for helping me with my guilt.
(I can say “You” too, if it helps yours.)
2. Families. It’s not difficult to see this as a household device. The first time you step on that spring break flight and the device is loaded with movies, games, everyone’s books…this seems like a home run. I can see it docked in the kitchen when home with cookbook recipes, family calendar, photos etc. It seems like the device we use to see in our minds when talked about swiping the empty milk carton bar code to add to the grocery list (anyone else remember that?)
3. Laptop dropouts. I talked with a friend today who is in the process of replacing the laptop in her kitchen. She does lightweight work on it (she works for herself and is mostly in Word and email) and suddenly the option of swapping a $2000 laptop for a $500 iPad is incredibly attractive. Those blessed careers that don’t require Excel–I definitely think its worth exploring the use of Pages and Keynote on an iPad.
4. Students. Hard to dispute a vision of students on their iPads taking notes, doing research, and yes, checking Facebook pages during those lectures. It’s kind of hard to imagine anything but.
5. Medical Professionals. At a doctor last week, I signed off on paperwork and privacy statements on an assistant’s ThinkPad. Man, it looks like a dinosaur compared to the iPad. With custom applications, this thing is a medical professional’s dream.
But I suppose you could argue no one really NEEDED an iPod. We had different ways to listen to our music. Apple has always been masterful at anticipating the future need of how we work and play. And maybe they have done it, yet again, and I can’t even see it.
If Apple is right I’ll say: “oh yeah, totally. I bought one, like, the first week it was out…my dog can vouch for me.”