The iPad: A Revolution, but not as we know it…

15 06 2010

In terms of a revolution, perhaps one could argue that, to think of the iPad as a revolution in terms of the consumers, is to ignore what the iPhone and iPod Touch have achieved in the way people consume and interact with media. One of the funny things to watch is current iPad owners try explain why the iPad is revolutionary- I find this collegehumor video, crude I know, to sum it up perfectly. However,  I believe those who call the iPad, ‘just a big iPod Touch’, are being short sighted, for a number of reasons that I will cover of the course of this post.


The biggest revolution that the iPad represents is in terms of advertising, especially with the introduction of Apple’s iAd. The importance of advertising on this platform was conveyed by Steve Jobs back in the April keynote, in which he quoted that ‘the average user spends about 30 minutes in apps everyday’, and if 10 ads were shown a day, across the 100 million iPod Touchs, iPhones and iPads, worldwide, then there were be a billion ads served up a day. Furthermore, Apple’s business strategy has reflected this as well, with the ban of Admob, Google’s advertising platform, from the iPhone OS and Appstore. Developers will be encouraged to incorporate iAd’s into their apps, since adverts will be easy to add in and the developer will receive 60 percent of the revenue.

For the consumer, the iPad will become an extension of the 360 degree world of advertising that we inhabit- you go out, see billboards, log onto the internet- see ‘tasteful’ pop ups and banners, turn on the TV, etc etc. In the case of the Television, it brings advertising into our sanctuary from the world, the home. However as soon as you leave the room, the advertising ceases to be effective and this is the key difference. The iPad not only brings advertising into the home, but into the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom- where ever you carry the device. Furthermore, iAd is going to allow advertisers to create content rich experience based partly on the information that it gains from your iPad, such as your location. An example used in the keynote was a Toy Story 3 advert, in which the user can watch trailers, purchase movie merchandise, download wallpapers and ringtones, and, using GPS, find out which cinemas in their area will be screening the film.

User Experience

With regard to user experience and usability, the iPad is definitely a revolution, in a market in which so many other companies have failed. The key to Apple’s success is that other tablets have been based around converting a fully blown operating system to work with hand and stylus input. As a result, the operating system becomes the main hindrance for users since the U.I is based around the point and click interface. A fully blown Windows OS does not take into consideration the unique situations that the touchscreen creates. Such as, when the user interacts with the interface, his/her hands will cover parts of the screen. Small icons and taskbars, while fine for the normal user, compounds everything that is wrong with adapting a fully blown operating system for the touchscreen platform- adding minor modifications and an onscreen keyboard is not enough. Meanwhile, Apple has upscaled their touchscreen orientated Smartphone operating system, the iPhone OS, to the tablet form factor.

As a result, the user experience is perfectly suited for the device, and if anything, the iPhone OS works better on the bigger format, however, Apple’s choice of the iPhone OS has large ramifications that just the user experience- it has defined the device. Like the iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad is about consuming media, rather than creating- a key difference between the iPad and your computer. As Steve Jobs mentioned in his January Keynote, Apple was creating a new, ‘third’ category, between that of the Smartphone and the Computer and for that category to exist, the iPad would have to be better than the Smartphone and the Computer in key areas- such as consuming media- gaming, reading an ebook, viewing photos and videos, but also tasks such as browsing the web.

The computer is capable of both, consuming and creating media, but it lacks the extreme portability ( very few laptops can boast the 10 hour battery life of the iPad, while still being relatively thin and light) Furthermore, in terms of consuming media, the iPad has been specifically designed for this, after all- what better way is there to interact with content, than to touch it ? The iPhone and the iPod touch proved this and now people can experience the same thing on a grander scale. However, the iPad differs from the iPhone and Touch in a number of key ways.

The saviour of printed media?

First of all, the iPad has been touted as the saviour to printed media, by providing comicbook, magazine and newspaper editors the ability to create a rich and interactive experience for their target audience,  something that is not possible with print media. While, many of the content providers have produced stunning applications for their audience, they have yet to grasp the concept of a fair price point for their product. Apple should of imposed a pricing structure similar to that of the Appstore, because at the moment many of the ’emagazines’ etc are not a viable option for consumers because they are overpriced or the same price of their printed sibling. Until the content providers begin pricing their products more competitively, the ’emagazine’ format is unlikely to take off.

The tablet format

While the device shares many of the characteristics of the Touch, the bigger format of the iPad, in terms of size and processing power, means that app developers can create some truly unique and separate experiences, from that of apps created for the iPhone and iPod Touch platform. One great example of this is the iWork package that Apple created for the iPad, something that was not viable on the smaller format of the Touch and iPhone, works well on the iPad. The quality of apps that developers create, and how they take advantage of the larger screen, will help define not only, how successful the product is, but also in terms of the iPad being perceived as a separate device to the iPod Touch and iPhone

The larger screen format, immediately encourages people to share their content by passing or gathering around the iPad to show friends and family the latest viral YouTube video of a cat playing the drums or the latest holiday photos. The screen encourages people to consume media on the device, and more and more people are using a second screen while watching TV, and the iPad will be perfect in this role. The small screen of the iPod Touch and iPhone means people will glance at the device, rather than actually engage with content.

The future of computing

The iPad is signalling towards the future of computing in which computers will be less based around processing power and more focused around media consumption and cloud computing. The iPad also does away with the mouse and keyboard input, proving that it is possible to have an operating system without these two proprietary components. I expect that in a few years, the iPhone and iPad will merge as one product, with greater processing power, incorporating a form of resizeable touchscreen, or perhaps making use of projectors.

Would I recommend buying one?

No, not yet. The iPad is in it’s infancy and a first generation Apple product is never the finished article, and as such, the users are essentially beta testers for the second gen iPad. If anything, the new iPhone has told us more about where the new iPad is heading in terms of features. Next year, or possibly sooner (this is Apple after all), we can expect a thinner, lighter iPad with camera(s) for ‘facetime’ and the improved retina display. However, for those who are really itching for the latest slab of Appley goodness, or those with fat wallet, at least wait until September, to see how iOS 4 changes the experience on the iPad. As the months go by, the platform will mature, as the developers have longer with the device, and better apps start to get released. If you are still determined (Steve would be proud), you then of course have to consider whether to get a WiFi version or the 3G. If you plan on staying in the home- get the WiFi, but if you plan to roam away from the safety of your wireless router, pony up the extra cash and get the 3G iPad.

Your thoughts

I’ve had my thoughts on the iPad and now I want to hear yours. Is there room for a ‘third device’?, does the iPad represent the future of computing?, is the iPad revolutionary at all? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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9 responses

16 06 2010

I think you will find this funny

Great post by the way. The iPad one of those many things I want but will probably never have…. 🙂


16 06 2010

Thanks- it took my awhile to type this one out. Nice picture as well!

16 06 2010

iPhone 4 FaceTime Videocalling Ban From Roads Called For?…

As you are probably aware, the new iPhone 4 supports FaceTime video calling enabling the user to make video calls, well apparently this new feature is causing a bit of a stink with New York State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who apparently wants a ban plac…

16 06 2010

That’s all very well- but Mr Felix Ortiz really hasn’t done his research. Facetime is WiFi only…so unless you have a router taped to your car, you won’t be able to use the feature.

17 06 2010

The i-pad is only a one un-coordinated fumble away from being a break-pad.

19 06 2010

Great post! As you read on my blog (, I’m going to keep an open mind, even understanding this is the first iteration, but have as of yet to have that “Aha!” moment where I realize the iPad is solving a need of mine that neither my smartphone or laptop currently handle… Your post have given my new perspective on how to view the iPad –

20 06 2010

Thank you for taking the time to read the post, I know it’s a long haul, and likewise, I’ve added you to my blog roll.

I feel the same way as you with regard to the iPad- at the moment, like Jobs said, it is a third category device- perhaps in a few years, we will have an iPad capable of replacing the laptop.

1 07 2010
News Update: iPhone 4 launch, Apple OSX apps heading for the iPhone, and more… « Appjudge

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