I'm A Confused Mac

Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I think I should be the target audience for the iPad. Stereotypes aside, I'm a pretty devoted Apple products user, I consume a lot of news and media, and I spend a lot of time on the Internet. But, when Steve Jobs said the iPad would fill the void between the laptop computer and the smart phone, I was confused. I could not figure out what that void was.

A week or so after the iPad was released, I spent the day walking around an unseasonably warm D.C. carrying my laptop in my backpack. The weight of my Macbook combined with my (admittedly irrational) dislike and distrust of all things windows operated made me wish for an iPad and keyboard dock, but i quickly realized that what I was actually wishing for was a Mac netbook or an affordable Macbook Air.

Which brought me back to square one: what exactly is the point of an iPad? I find myself staring at people using them to see if the answer will reveal itself. I'm not the only one; the first time I saw someone on the metro using an iPad  (middle-aged man playing sudoku) I was one of three or four people jostling to sit near him so we could see it "in real life."

So after not so subtly spying on people using it and playing with one for a little bit in Best Buy, these are my conclusions.

  • It would probably be great for old people. I actually am not sure how intuitive it is; though the lack of multitasking and the touch screen makes it more intuitive than an actual computer, a lot of what we do with a touch screen actually mimics how we use a computer mouse. It's not actually intuitive to run your finger down the screen to see more text. We just think it is because we scroll with a mouse. Still it's simpler than a lot of computers, and ebooks could drastically increase the number of large print books available.
  • If it had a usb port, if the iWork suite is really compatible with Microsoft Office, and if the keyboard dock is super portable, it might make a super pretty netbook. That's a lot of ifs.
  • It's good for reading books you are embarrassed to read in public. Secretly dying to read the latest Dan Brown? Curious about Twilight? Interested in advice contained in a self help book with a hokey title? Erotica (will Apple's book store sell erotica?) Stick it on the iPad and no one will be the wiser. Of course, this is true of all e-readers, and there is always the significantly cheaper option of making book covers out of newspaper (though this may be the book equivalent of drinking out of a paper bag).
Old people, not-quite-sensible netbook users, snobby readers: somehow, I don't think that was the void between smart phones and laptops Jobs was talking about.

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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

I have left my real name off of the blog so as not to imply that the blog is somehow linked with the journalism I get paid to do. (Still, I never write about my beat on this blog, and rarely express opinions about the day's news regardless of its relationship to my beat).

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