Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gamechanger or Hype?

Yes, I'm sticking my neck out and weighing in. Why not? It seems like everyone else has. I'm not sure how anyone that reads the news could miss the articles on the introduction of the iPad. Many critics and many advocates have voiced their perspectives. So my perspective...

It's a gamechanger. I've read Michael Hyatt's post which he talks about it being a luxury. A colleague commented the same thing this week. This comment is spot on. If one thinks the iPad will replace their laptop, s/he is dead wrong. It's not just an iPhone with a big screen either. Yes, it's a great ebook reader but that's not gamechanging. So what, it's color. That's just an upgrade from some of the others.

As I have read so many of the comments and articles both pro and con, I have drawn the conclusion that many people on both sides of the product reviews have missed it. When asked about it, a professional presenter at a recent conference said people just don't get it. I think he's right. I'm not sure I really get it either, but maybe this falls in the category of knowing what I don't know. When I was debating between an iPhone and a Blackberry, I read a review that said the individual using the iPhone felt like he was using a phone for 2012 or 2014 rather than a phone for 2010 with the Blackberry. I think this offhanded comment may hold a lot of truth. Apple has historically ignored some of the criticism and negative feedback on products they put out initially. Some speculation for this and my personal belief is that these products are designed for what people will want/need in the future--2-3 years down the road. The success of their products in recent years may well prove that they are producing valid products that do meet consumer approval. The current paradigm doesn't always fit this product they put out, regardless of whether it is an iPhone or iPad or whatever. And they are okay with that because they are working into the future and pushing the envelop of what's possible, feasible, and useful. It is an edgy and provocative place to release products and be a successful company. Ultimately, much of Apple's success comes from their ability to get the user interface right in these products.

People commonly translate what they know to a new gadget or tool. I believe the iPad opens the door to transformation. It is a total paradigm shift that goes beyond simple tweaks. It's a new way of thinking. The iPhone was a stepping stone. However, a new generation of apps will open up that the iPhone could never handle. The gamechanging power of the iPad is not in the gadget but rather the platform that opens a new world of opportunity. I remember seeing a TV advertisement for the iPhone that said there was an app for everything. I kind of laughed at the exaggeration. However, an app does appears to exist for nearly everything. You can scan barcodes to find the cheapest prices of products while at the grocery store, wake up at the best time according to your sleep patterns, and even plan your family based on the most likely times of the month to conceive a child. It is absurd how many apps are out there.

The iPad taps into a mobile device market that is just blossoming right now and provides the platform for...well...whatever you want to do. (If you want more info on this subject, read the NMC's Horizon Report.) Don't get me wrong; it's not the end all. However, it is a gamechanging device which embraces transformation, not just a translation. Just a couple embracing media in a new way, I predict will begin seeing ebooks produced for the iPad that go beyond text on a screen. It may be text, images, videos, hyperlinked text, etc. that extends well beyond the current paradigm of book reading. If embraced by publishers, it could hugely impact digital textbooks which in my opinion have struggled to find great success and widespread use. The uses in classrooms are numerous. As a matter of fact, that again reinforces the provides the platform for transformation. Ultimately, we will see uses that we never imagined for it. So, right or wrong...gamechanger.

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