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Tuesday, 2 February 2010

iPad, the Wii of the personal computer world??

Well the dust has settled on the most recent 'game-changer' from Apple and there are a lot of mixed views out there. Is this device 'insanely great' 'magical' or is it just a big iPod Touch. While these are the questions being asked at the moment, it got me thinking that perhaps most of us are missing the point and this 'third category' of device is exactly that, a new category.
From my last post on Nintendo, it got me thinking that there are many similarities in the business model of the Japanese gaming giant and Apple...
Ok, first off I was one of the people out there that was disappointed with the iPad, perhaps falling victim to the years of hype, the unstoppable media buzz and the seemingly constant rumours from 'trusted sources'
I'm not however going to dwell on why the iPad doesn't fit with me as almost everything i put in my 'Why i don't have a Jesus phone' remains true of the iPad (plus a couple of new ones 4:3 anyone??).

Instead it got me thinking about who this device would appeal to. The guys at Ultimi Barbarorum have suggested that 'old people' will benefit the most from this device and ensure it's success and while the learning curve of the iPhone is easy for most, only the iPad has the screen size for 'ageing eyes'
I whole heartedly agree with this and then some.
The iPad could put itself in a position to not only provide 'old people', but anyone who sees using a computer as a barrier for digital consumption.
The best example I can think of is my parents, these are not very technical people and in many ways ignorant to the importance of the digital world, however i can really see them using an iPad.
I can picture them using it as a photo frame when not in use, my mother using it to look up recipes and my father uploading his digital snaps and then reading it like a newspaper.
Lets compare this to Nintendo's philosophy with the Wii; here is a system that from a technical stand point is inferior to the competition, has less convergence of technologies (no Blu-Ray, no HD, no HDD), however by focussing on the core functionality of gaming and fun has reached a much wider demographic.

As Nintendo's President Sataro Iwata insists:

"We're not thinking about fighting Sony, but about how many people we can get to play games. The thing we're thinking about most is not portable systems, consoles, and so forth, but that we want to get new people playing games."

This is what I think Apple is doing; they aren't thinking about fighting netbooks, but about how many people they can get online. The thing they are thinking about the most is not  multitasking, flash, customisation and so forth, but about making it as easy and organic as possible to get new people surfing the web and consuming digital content.

This product could finally be the true realisation of Steve Job's vision of  Macintosh, a lifetimes work in creating 'the computer for the rest of us'


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