Ideacodes co-founders, Emily Chang and Max Kiesler, were asked for a comment by the New York Times’ Room for Debate online discussion site about the iPad two days after the debut of the first WiFi version in the U.S. The post, titled The iPad in the Eyes of the Digerati, also includes opinions from Tim O’Reilly, David Gelernter, Liza Daly, Craig Mod and Sam Kaplan. Specifically, the question asked was: “some reviews have said the limitation of the iPad is that it doesn’t fill an obvious need. Can you see the iPad as a new medium — rather than just a bigger iPhone or smaller laptop? How much does the form factor of a device (the iPad is very likely to spawn competitors) drive the creation of new types of content and affect how content is read, heard, watched, etc.?”
Part of Apple’s success is its ability to create products that don’t fill an obvious need, but through attention to design and user experience, produces something that delights users and challenges conventions. This was the case with the iPod, iPhone and now the iPad.
Tablets have been around for some time, and at January’s Consumer Electronics Show, there were numerous tablets with multi-touch capabilities from various manufacturers.
Whether everyone needs a tablet is debatable, but it’s a natural progression from desktop computers to laptops to smart phones. As the Internet becomes more ubiquitous, our devices are becoming more mobile and connected. The iPad exemplifies the further shift toward simplicity.
Where you once needed to buy and install software to write a document, you can now use free online services; where you might have needed an external hard drive, you can now backup to the “cloud;” where you once had to be technically-proficient to publish online, you can now publish a blog just by emailing content to a service. For people who mostly want to browse the Web, send email, listen to music and view photos and video, a tablet may be sufficient.
The fact that the iPad is bigger than an iPhone and without the physical keyboard of a laptop changes its use, and as a result, changes user behavior. It sits easily on your lap, like a school notebook. And it’s big enough for two people to use it to play a game of chess.
By combining the intimacy of a simple screen with the the tactile quality of multi-touch, the user experience is quite different that with other devices. This creates another venue for content producers to reach their audience; and another format on which designers can create interactions.