Apple iPad picture (C) mattbuchanan

When Apple introduced the iPad this January this event got covered in most of the media around the globe. Reading through the responses of experts, consumers and Apple fans produced mixes results. Some saw it as a true revolution others uttered their disappointment by calling it “nothing more than a big iPhone/iPod Touch” or even defying it as the next epic failure after the Newton.

So where is the truth? Maybe for now somewhere in between. But there is more to it:

A big step towards  Simplexity

We see the iPad as a next steps towards Simplexity. The iPad is not a netbook or a PC but it has the potential to replace some of these devices, or open up the world of “connected mobile media” to a new user group who would not want or even do not have a PC in their private “ecosystem”.

If we look at what the average user does on a PC then in most cases this narrows down to writing emails, surfing the web, watching videos, playing games and working on documents. Despite the possibility of a PC to do “much more” the majority of mainstream users just do not have the need for this. For them the iPad is a possible alternative to existing netbooks and portable PCs including an improved user experiences.

There is also another group who so far only had very limited experiences with a PC. They see the machine as an intimidating, over-complex device and often refrain from using it. The iPad can offer a new, less complex user experience to them, reducing the learning curve necessary to be able to “handle” the machine. Another feature is that the user can take the device to his or her preferred location instead of having to sit in front of a fixed “altar” devoted to the complex machine. In this way the iPad embraces the users environment by becoming an extended part of it. (Very similar to
what mobile phones have achieved in the past.)

The metaphor

While many keep talking and also wondering about the future of the iPad we see it more as a metaphor rather than the next best seller product. Beyond the wonders of modern engineering we should ask ourselves constantly how we can create products and services that help to empower people. Why do we use a PC? Because we like to sit in front of the screen most of the time? Surely no. Because we like to type? Also surely no. We use PCs to accomplish something. If these accomplishments can be achieved through a different device in an easier, simpler more intelligent and empowering way why should
we use a PC for this? Unfortunately the weakness of many engineering departments is they tend to build better trains instead of airplanes. (This is not always the engineers fault but also stems from the way a company is managed and steered.) In this sense the iPad opens up the “mental box” and offers a new, more user centered and more flexible way of thinking about technology and computers.

Conclusion

At this point in time it is difficult to judge about the future success of the iPad. It might take several more iterations before the product can be called “perfect”. Yet it is an important step into the right direction towards Simplexity. Competitors for sure will use this as an inspiration for their current and future products.

Combined with a balanced ecosystem and smart business models this would be a win-win situation for users, content creators, distributors and manufacturers.

Picture source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbuchanan/ / CC BY 2.0

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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 31st, 2010 at 6:56 pm

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