Introducing the iPad
The iPad has been highly successful since its recent introduction, selling 2 million units within 60 days. The iPad benefits from a growing base of Apple customers, software developers, partners and media relations, and builds on the functionality of Apple’s previous mobile devices, leading to their adage, “You already know how to use it.” It looks and feels like the iPhone with a larger screen. Apple has leveraged our familiarity with their existing products and added some innovative new steps. With a stunning design and an advanced multi-touch user interface, this larger-screen mobile device is hard to resist.
Balancing The Mobile Experience
The reach of mobile computing continues to expand as sleeker, more feature-rich devices enter the market. At the very least, these wireless smart devices serve as glorified PDAs that enable users to carry around their most important information wherever they go. At their best, they enhance and enrich the user’s lifestyle through a careful balance of convenience, transparency, relevance, connectivity, and flexibility.
As mobile devices merged into smarter and more powerful devices they also got thinner, smaller and lighter and Apple is truly innovative in this area. But let’s face it, with the requisite learning curve, a new device can be anything but convenient. It has to be connected, configured, customized and protected. Data has to be transferred from the previous device and there’s usually some troubleshooting required, even for Apple’s easy-to-use products. And there’s the initial cost, too. But once those hurdles are cleared, we have a convenient device that simplifies and consolidates our personal effects.
Ease of use is also a must, because consumers will not use a product that’s difficult, unstable or uncomfortable to use, no matter how attractive it is. The device shouldn’t require the user to change their behavior in order to use it; it should adapt and complement the user’s existing lifestyle. It’s about bringing content into the environment you’re already in, not creating an environment conducive to your content.
Of course, by transparent we’re not referring to a device that is actually invisible (or perhaps missing because it was left unattended a bit too long in a California pub), but transparent in that a user ‘forgets’ the device for the content it holds. Apple’s iPad and iPhone stay out of the way of the on-screen content. In fact, they are mostly screen—apart from a highly designed bezel and a few understated controls. The 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen dedicates much of the visible area to content, giving users a large frame for exploring and sharing their digital lives on the go.
With the hardware and underlying software working in the background, content is the primary focus. What makes the iPad so desirable, like its iPhone and iPod Touch cousins, is the level of personal relevance for the user. There’s prestige in carrying a beautifully designed, cutting edge device, but even after the love affair over having the latest, greatest product fades by a few newer versions, it’s the ability to customize and fill the device with personalized content (photos, videos, music, contacts, files, apps, etc.) that makes it relevant, even essential, to our daily lives.
When you hold the iPad in your hands you’re actually holding the entire dynamic content of the Internet (minus the Flash bits, of course) and the bright, large display creates a rich, immersive experience. It gives users who spend time on social media sites the ability to update their status accordingly. Expect to see “Running on my treadmill with my iPad,” or “Laying on the beach with my iPad,” much like “Sent from my iPhone” email signoffs.
Software-based controls keep the device flexible and simplify the ability to adapt the controls for multilingual use. It allows Apple to dramatically improve the user experience through software-driven OS updates and has the ability to drive additional revenue-generation for content and software developers. As our world changes, the iPad will change and adapt to remain viable longer, making it a great investment.
It Just Fits
The iPad was released in January 2010 to mixed reactions. The biggest question revolved around whether there was a market for a touch-screen device that bridged the gap between Apple’s iPhone and laptops. The iPad’s early sales success can be attributed to the simplicity of use of other Apple products, or it could be that it’s a new kind of user experience that just fits.
In future articles we’ll look at some of the reasons that the iPad is destined to stand out and excel in an industry flooded with smart mobile devices.