About a month ago I won an iPad through a Twitter contest by Panda Security. Being a geek, I started playing with it right away, and didn’t stop for a whole week straight. I decided that the iPad really is an awesome gadget. The keyboard is way more comfortable than I had expected and the screen’s definition is just amazing. So I like the iPad, and I think it’s a great idea that works perfectly.
However, even though I was thinking “why did I say such a thing,” I kept my promise to give the iPad to my mother. And now, a few weeks later, I don’t really miss it. Other than becoming one of the top five sons in history, I believe that someone like my mother, who knows nothing about computers, can get a lot more out of the iPad than I can.
Let’s be logic: I spend nine hours a day at the office, where I have a desktop computer (running Linux Ubuntu) with a 23 inches screen (yeah!); and I rarely have meetings where I could bring an iPad instead of my notebook. At home or when I’m travelling I have a MacBook Pro with all the applications I may need either to work or to entertain myself.
So… when would I use my iPad? Maybe when I can’t bring my laptop… but for that I already have a smart-phone (running Android). Or to read, but if I ever decide to change from paper books I’d prefer to go for an e-book or Kindle, for the same reason that when I want to whip some cream I buy a beater and not a full kitchen-robot.
What I mean is that, after all the advertising Apple addressed to people like me, the iPad isn’t anything more than a toy for me. I could use it and enjoy it, but it’s not done for me: I use real computers or get by with a cellphone, which fits in my pocket.
In the other hand, my mother has found in the iPad her window to technology. Just so you know, my mother still asks for help when saving a file in her USB key, and she didn’t even know what an iPad was before I told her that I was giving her one. She represents the kind of people Apple didn’t try to reach with their marketing because they know that people like her would never spend 500 euros in “something about computers”.
But the iPad is different. A couple of days ago she told me she loves how easy it is to start it and start browsing the Internet, and how fast everything goes. Within two weeks she has almost mastered the touch screen, and she now checks Facebook everyday to see what her children are up to. She is even considering taking it to the office. Basically, she is more than happy with her iPad because for the first time she has a computer she is not afraid to use (except for the fear of clicking on an application that will cost her .79 cents!)
Why do we have such different views of the iPad? Well, because while I have more than 60 applications installed on my laptop, my mother only uses the e-mail client, the text application and the Internet browser. Because where I see a frustrating lack of configuration options, she sees easiness to use. Because while I can’t understand why someone would want only one way to do something, my mother doesn’t need more than that, especially when everything is intuitive and easy to understand. In short, because my mother doesn’t get along with computers, but I do.
Maybe I haven’t understood it, but I think the same way WII is a console meant for people who don’t play video-games, the iPad is a computer meant for people who dislike the complexity of computers. Obviously, Apple benefited from a marketing strategy targeting those who are willing to spend extravagant amounts of money on a gadget. But maybe they should also have considered people like my mother, who with a little push can get a lot out of this “magical” toy.