Why the iPad will change Apple users’ skepticism for its version 1 products

I’m preparing a rather lengthy (even for me) blog post about the iPad which I’ll publish once I complete my Presentation Magic workshop at Macworld next week.

Curiously, the dust has yet to settle on the iPad, even though more than a week has passed. Can you recall a product in this class which has garnered as much pre-release hype and guesswork, and one where the punditry continues the discussion long after?

I’ll keep this blog entry short and sweet, prompted by deadlines to prepare my workshop yet inspired by some great comments on the muledesign blog following an article called, The failure of empathy, looking at how geek designers perhaps fail to understand (or are even contemptuous of) the end user. The blog, written by Mike Monteiru (linked to from John Gruber), extols the virtue of the iPad.

Here are two of the blog comments which I relate to given my workshop next week:

(My own blog about the iPad keynote will focus once more on how Jobs tells the iPad “reason for being story” and plays it as hero against the villainous cheap, slow and “clunky old PC software” netbooks.)

The second comment that caught my attention:

Someone truly gets it. In this context, it’s in support of the argument that there is a torrent of people who couldn’t care less about a computer’s operating system, or how to drill down as a root user to make something magical happen for them, perhaps forbidden or obscured by the original designer. No, these are people who just want to do stuff, perhaps basic as in reading a novel or newspaper, or perhaps composing a letter to the editor of said newspaper and emailing it, or creating a more formal response in Pages for snail mailing.

It won’t come as a surprise that many people not of the computing world but of other domains I inhabit (but who know of my faux geekiness) have had one of two things to say to me about the iPad:

1. “I think I’m going to get one. It’ll be only the second Apple product I’ve owned (following an iPod or iPhone) and I think our household might be turning Apple” (usually from friends steeped in Microsoftiness, meaning they don’t care what computer they use as long as it’s cheap);

2. Les, are you getting one?

Now, amongst my Apple owning friends, it’s well known that I’m not necessarily an early adopter of its hardware, while I often rush to buy software. New hardware products from Apple have had a history of suffering version 1.0 issues (hardware quality issues in Macbooks and iMacs, and missing functions in iPhones), and my purchase of a Titanium Powerbook G4 in 2001 taught me some valuable lessons.

Such purchases are big ticket items, expected to last at least three years (or so my accountant informs me), and function as mission-critical items, or ought to have such reliability.

But – and I’m wondering how many others will feel this way – we know the iPad is at the beginning or genesis of its being a revolutionary product. It’s truly a version 1 product, whereas my Powerbook G4 was a version 1.0 evolutionary product. This is one reason there continues to be so much post-keynote discussion, given how many people wish to keep reminding the geeks who wanted everything and more in the iPad that they need not judge the iPad’s success or failure as a genre leader by this first model.

So given the outrageous pricing (compared to the $1000 expectations rumoured or leaked for mass consumption), how much can one lose by now being an early adopter? I’d worry more about sunk costs if I’d just purchased the latest Kindle while being receptive to all those tablet rumours previously circulating.

No, at the price of US$499, without the 3G, or $130 more with it – and without having to be on contract which I presume will also be the case outside of the US – it’s a small and possibly short-lived (maybe a year) investment in learning a new way of interacting with data. When the new model comes out in 2011, what’s the bet thousands of first buyers will hand it up or down, or donate it to schools, or somehow pass it on. My 84 year old mother has played with my iPhone (she still uses a decade old Nokia phone) but sees no reason to change. With an iPad and a few lessons from me, she’ll be reading even more than the five books a week she borrows from the local library.

What I’ll conclude with is that even some people’s usual ways of interacting with Apple products (I’ll wait until version 2) no longer needs to hold given its relative cost of entry to a new paradigm.

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3 responses to “Why the iPad will change Apple users’ skepticism for its version 1 products

  1. Len,

    I’m really excited about the ipad. I’ll be surprised if, even at version 1.0, it doesn’t do the things I want it to.

    One special treat will be presentations. I know, and love, keynote. But one thing I’ve always wanted is the ability to write on top of the presentation; either for emphasis, or to add something like the spelling of a word (during teaching).

    The ipad version of keynote will have this. For me, this is a major enhancement.

  2. That magic vs magician comment is priceless.

    I can see a time where the wife and I each have an iPad, share use of a Mac Mini (file storage, HTPC, etc.) and maybe keep one iPhone activated, using other older models as iPod touches. The only question is which model of iPad I buy, and when.

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