I remember a huge fight I had with my parents when I was around 12. It was a Sunday night. Simpsons night. Back when that show was the holy grail of edgy humor every 12 year old craved. But there was a problem. Schedule change. The Simpsons were on a half hour later this year. That half hour put the show past my bedtime. My parent’s bedtime policy was adapted from the Guantanamo handbook with no wiggle room. Thus, a major Sunday night crisis begun. My ultimate solution was to throw a fit well past 9:00, thus proving, in my 12-year-old opinion, how draconian this sleeping regime was. Of course, I never got to see that episode of the Simpsons.
If only I had an iPad…
I tried my best to not buy an iPad. Of course, by 11:00 on opening Saturday I was at the Apple store, credit card in hand. I used it all day, and I am somewhat embarrassed to say, way into the night. What Saturday night plans? Finally, that device from the future which has every book, every movie, and every TV show was in the palm of my hand! But I’m not going to gush about the wonders of this device. Everyone who has one (sans my brother who returned his… fool) has already done that. No, I am here to talk about The Future.
I started writing this post on my iPad, and the experience wasn’t horrible. The true revolution, however, is in the consumption experience. The revolution is in intimacy. It’s tactile. It’s unshackled from the desk. Based on some early research, iPad users ‘consume two and a half times as many videos as the typical web user …”. My experience thus far backs that up. At my desk, if I see video in a link or embedded on a page, I often skip it. But with the iPad I am HUNGRY FOR CONTENT like never before. Not only do I watch, but I watch the entire thing. And then want more. I’ve been devouring NetFlix, watching old episodes of Arrested Development, The Office, and X-Files just because. Brushing teeth? Have an episode playing. Cooking dinner? Episode. Bathroom… well, yah, there too. I haven’t turned on my home computer since Saturday (I had to do the initial setup). For 99% of casual consumptive computing there is no need for a traditional desktop/laptop. The experience is infinitely more enjoyable sitting on my couch or in bed with this beautiful device.
Where’s that take us? Garnet Research predicts that half of all PCs purchased for kids under 15 will be touchscreen by 2015. That seems modest. The disconnect between man and machine, partially created by keyboards and mice, is about to be a thing of the past. A touch interface, adopted on a mass scale, will be a catalyst for major change. The first change, previously not so obvious, is the insatiable thirst for content. Users are going to want a LOT of everything – Videos, books, magazines, games. Consuming is now enjoyable beyond the pleasure derived from the content itself. The iPad has the same comfort a book has, only it’s responsive. Two way. Alive. And the App store is a built consumption enabler. The dealer is a millisecond away at all times. Better than living next door.
The inevitable result of change is ‘new’. As things flesh out we are going to see plenty of cool new things. I WANT to interact with my content. Now that I can touch, I want to touch everything, including my video. I want to experience it in new ways. The combination of tv show, video game and book is probably only a few weeks away. And that’s just a starting point.
A third thing I am noticing is in the social sphere. Touching is incredibly human. This new intimacy with our machines (Forgoing the potential longterm Singularity fears) means I want to connect with others. TweetDeck is stunning when you can flick things around and touch. I want the social experience tightly integrated. I’m fine with you knowing what I’m reading in iBooks, or streaming on NetFlix, or my high score in Tap Tap Radiation. But I want to touch more than the screen. NetFlix has the opportunity here to really blow us away. Give us that social interactivity. The iPad is the place where it actually works.
UPDATE: Not 20 minutes after posting this did Steve Jobs announce, in the iPhone OS 4 keynote, that they are releasing a social gaming network. This is exactly what I am talking about, but let’s see it across the board for all forms of consumption.
Now I am staying up way past my bedtime, watching, reading, learning, and touching. If only I could find that episode of The Simpsons …