Saturday, April 03, 2010

iPad: The Logic Exits Your Left Earhole

I tend to be an "early adopter" of technologies but I've never been a lemming-like "first adopter". I was not among the first kids on my block to get cable TV(parents to blame here).I was not the first to get a "Pong" home game or an Atari video game system or a VHS player. I was not the among the first with a PC in the 80s or a cellphone in the early 90s.  I bought a second gen Motorola razor, 3rd Gen blackberry and a 3G iPhone but not the original iPhone. I held off on buying into DVD until the players were below $300 and I'm still resisting Blue-Ray(On-demand killing this quick anyway). 

I tend to try and jump on the bandwagon just as the technology looks to me to be mid-jump, and sailing safely, over the infamous "chasm" between "early-adopters and "early-majority". 

I guess I don't won't to be stuck "looking like a fool with my pants on the ground" with this year's version of the betamax player. So when I got the chance and I decided to go to the Apple store today on iPad release day it was very much out of character for me. Ostensibly, I had the logical excuse that my iPhone headset's left earphone had gone bad and they always give me a free replacement at the Apple store. Because they know me at the store as a business customer, who has dropped north of $5K at this store the last 12 months, they gave me my free headset and waved me through to go worship at the iPad trough with the first-adopter sycophants. 

My first inclination was to say, "No Thanks" and leave and come back sometime this fall when the hype had subsided and I could take a closer and more sober look. Also by then Apple may already be within 6 months of iPad v2. But since I decided I didn't have to wait in line I figured, "What the heck. I'll give it a look." Despite a packed crowd of people around a table with 6 iPad's tethered to it one freed up just as I walked up. I proceeded to mess with iPad V1 for 30 minutes. 

Played a few games, surfed, checked out book reader and NY-Times app, played guitar hero, typed on onscreen keyboard, listened to music, etc. Since I'm an iPhone user now for near 2 years the UI was familiar and only a short adjustment to get used to typing on the bigger form factor. Now I tend to deep down want to eventually own a lot of the Apple products, even if I do usually hold off a year or more before seriously considering a purchase. But in this case in reading and hearing about iPad I had decided I actually didn't want one. Between my iPhone 3G and my latest gen, top-of-the-line Macbook Pro my logical engineer's brain didn't see how iPad would fit in my life. My logical brain had calculated that iPad was way too "non-orthogonal" of a "device vector" to add significantly to my computing or inter-networked life. But then I made the mistake of picking one up. 

It was immediately clear this thing is smokin' fast on the UI experience compared to iPhone. Plus physically it feels in your hands like what you might imagine Captain Picard was used to when he used his "Star Trek TNG" handheld, touch tablet in that fantasy, future universe. Crap, I am now hooked. 

 The key to the "iPad hook" I've decided, is you have to already have and be comfortable with an iPhone. If you have an iPhone and you touch an iPad you will experience a mindless rush of hindbrain-generated device-lust within moments. You will feel this rush even if you are a sceptic and have read in detail about the well-documented "shortcomings". It's like the iPhone was just some kind of precursor preparation "pod" aimed at preparing it's users to be "body-snatched" by an eventual iPad-like device. 

If you have used an iPhone for more than 6 months and it's now an intrinsic part of your daily life you will touch an iPad and you won't be able to stop the logic in your head from exiting your left earhole. You WILL want one. You WILL crave it. I am craving it RIGHT NOW. 

It's a bit annoying actually. 

 Now I will NOT buy one today and I WILL hold out for the 3G version. But I WILL have a 3G iPad by June 1st at the latest. I didn't see this coming at all. I seriously was convinced that it would be 2 years minimum before I considered something like iPad to go along with my MacBook Pro, iPhone combo. I mean I'll still mainly be MacBook/iPhone for most of what I do. But now I realize I have to find a way to fit this thing in my life. "Why?" you ask? Because the thing was/is....FUN! 

iPhone and iTouch are like drinking the sweet nectar of mobile broadband access to the net and mobile gaming through one of those tiny swizel-stick straws you get in a mixed drink at the bar. The iPad feels like you are drinking the experience in through one of those a big, fat, 7-eleven slushie straws with the little spoon on the end.  


I rolled my eyes a bit when Steve Jobs said something to the effect of,"It's a whole new kind of device". He is right; once again. Hate or love him it's hard to argue with his results. So after I experienced this "iPad rush" I took a deep breath and started quietly walking around listening to comments in store from customers to see if it was just me. 

It was not just me. I saw a lot of glazed, wide eyes and was reminded of a quote from "Field of Dreams, "...and they will come to the entrance to your farm(Apple store) not knowing why for sure they are doing it...they will pass over their money without thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack...people will most definitely come." Yeah I know that's melodramatic...duh!

The thing is it's NOT a technology product that logically solves an unsolved problem. It's an experience. It's totally illogical, but it's true.

Now before you write me off thinking I'm a total fanboy here I want you to know that I'm of the opinion that there is no perfection in this world. So I'm not saying Apple, or the iPad, is anywhere near that. But the Apple technology experience is way more "human" than almost any other technology product or service you are likely to find. 

Technology built and used for it's own sake is a tedious death-march that drains the human soul. The future of technology must be about serving and enhancing the human experience instead of requiring humans to serve the technology. The person who has the most fun by the time they shuffle off this mortal coil...wins! 

The iPad, the iTouch and the iPhone are about the human experience we call "Fun".