Surrender to the madness…

I couldn’t decide if it was my inner geek trying to get out. Or it could have been gadget purchase withdrawal syndrome (GPWS – yes, it is a real condition, akin to PTSD, but without the preceding near-death experience). So I emailed my mate Cliff, as he knows a little about these things. I said:

I’m thinking of buying an iPad. Am I mad?

His response:

Sometimes it’s just better to surrender to the madness….

told me all I needed to know.

I need to backtrack a little. A while back I posted my peon to my Hero (no, the phone, not a person) in which I was a little dismissive of the iPhone. Perhaps not dismissive, but lacking in the usual hero-worhip (geddit) that is supposed to go with any mention of said phone. But at Christmas, we got an iPod Touch for our daughter. And quite frankly, its a knock-out. It does everything it says on the tin and then some. Its a great form factor, easy to use, fast blah, blah, blah. She listens to music, watches TV, does her times-table practice, looks at our photos on Flickr (and edits them using the Photoshop app she found and worked out to use on her own). The key here is that she just does it. And the Touch just lets her.

So, and I suspect that you have guessed where I am going with this by now, I started to get interested in the iPad. Now, I could get a little pompous and say “I’m Head of Technology and Coherence, its my job to be interested in this stuff” but the reality was it was Jobs. I mean, he’s never wrong is he? Ok, I’ll give you Apple TV. Oh, and the Newton. But its true. He usually gets it right and I think we should respect that. So, I started to ponder. Why does he think he is right about this? And I think I get it. I think Apple have delivered the TV of the computing world.

This is not some brilliant deduction made just by me, but my view is that the iPad is what we have been waiting for, a consumer device that is enough of a computer to do stuff, but not too much that it frightens its users. More than that, its a window onto the internet (we’ll come back to Flash later) that anyone can use. And can use easily and anywhere. To quote Cliff again when I asked him if it wasn’t just a big Touch:

“Well yes, it is a big version of the iPod Touch – but that’s exactly why I want one. I like the iPod Touch but the screen’s far too small to browse the web, read e-books etc. so something like the iPad would be perfect…'”

The comparison I made to a colleague today was that the iPad was to laptop what a TV was to a DV camera. You can watch your videos on a DV camera, but it’s best to watch them on a TV. And you wouldn’t give your DV camera to your gran (using the generalised version of the person – I’m sure that your gran is a techno-whizz) to watch your videos on. But you could give her an iPad to browse the web.

There are deficiencies. the Flash one worries me as it seems a bit unreasonable not to have it, the lack of USB and camera have been well documented but have work-around that seems reasonable to me.

Books, music, video, browsing, tons of apps. I think this form factor and functionality set is the next step.

Yes, I think I might have to surrender to the madness!