Archives For January 2010

I don’t particularly want an iPad. I do use macs – macbookpro, iMac and iPhone – but that’s because I do video editing and a lot of writing, and my favourite applications (Marsedit, Sohonotes, Quicksilver, Fluid, Scrivener, Omniplan, Final Cut Studio) make what I do a lot easier. But the main reason I don’t want an iPad is that I’m not the target market.

I use an iPhone because it does everything I need for a mobile computing device – phone calls, email, IM, social networking, note management, audio recording, photos and music. I prefer the iPhone keyboard to Blackberry because I have big hands, and the touchscreen works better than the cramped Blackberry. The interface makes sense to me better – the Blackberry interface is awful.

A lot of the criticisms of the iPhone strike me as a bit odd. Sure, there’s no multitasking – but apart from a few cases like running a chat client, that’s actually not really an issue. I have a dozen apps open at all times on my mac when I’m working, but I don’t do web development on my phone. The battery life is crap but manageable – and substantially better than a netbook.

That said, I have three main computing needs: mobile device, mid range video/project management/writing, and heavy duty video/compositing. The iPad doesn’t fit into that matrix, all my needs are taken care of. What I’m finding is that a lot of the critiques of the iPad are coming from people whose computing needs are covered – which is not where the demand for the iPad is going to come from. It’s going to come from people whose computing needs are not covered – people who are not technically oriented, who want a usable, simple, trusted computing option that is easy to use, easy to install software on, and one that doesn’t have to be concerned with viruses.

While some of Joanne Jacobs’ critiques are valid the demand for the iPad won’t be comparable to the smartphone market – the demand will come from the market identified here: people who’ve been sidelined by computer design by nerds, for nerds.

Far too often the demands for computer freedom have been dominated by a notion of software freedom that only make sense to programmers. Computer freedom is also about the freedom to use the technology. That’s the market the iPad is going to serve. Computing pundits and free software advocates need to start thinking about how people actually do use computers – or, in many cases, simply don’t. It’s indicative that people are condemning the lack of multitasking when people who are interested in buying one don’t care about multitasking.

If the iPad and its successor devices free these people to focus on what they do best, it will dramatically change people’s perceptions of computing from something to fear to something to engage enthusiastically with. I find it hard to believe that the loss of background processing isn’t a price worth paying to have a computer that isn’t frightening anymore.

I can actually see my parents using an iPad. And that is revolutionary.