iPad – a Game Changer?

I don’t attempt to predict stuff very often, but I think this one’s safe – I think Apple’s new iPad is most definitely a game changer.

Why? Because it combines so many things into one handy, easy-to-use device. Just watching the video about the iPad and poking around on the website a bit, you find out all that the iPad will supposedly do, including:

  • web browsing
  • email
  • photo viewing
  • watch videos (even YouTube videos)
  • listen to music (it has iTunes built in)
  • buy and read ebooks
  • a cool map
  • note taking
  • a calendar
  • Contacts list
  • iWork (Apple’s answer to Microsoft Office) is rebuilt for the iPad, so you have word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software
  • The App Store works here, too, which opens up 140,000 apps that all do different things

And of course, it’s multi-touch. So instead of having to use a mouse or keyboard shortcuts to operate the thing … you just touch the screen. I’m just amazed that Apple seemingly rolled up a Microsoft Surface, a tablet PC, a video player, a netbook, an iPod, and an ebook reader, and came out with something light, cool, and truly unique. Except maybe the name – sorry Apple, but the iPad is a silly name.

Apple could turn this thing into a student’s best friend. Instead of carrying a heavy backpack around, students could use the iPad to carry all their textbooks (assuming Apple partners with textbook companies), any multimedia they need to watch, their word processor to write papers (or they could just use Google Docs via a wifi connection), multiple ways to take notes, communicate to classmates and teachers via email/IM/Facebook/Skype/etc. And still have their favorite photos, their grand music collection, and a couple of fun games with them, too.

How about for libraries? Think Reference Desk and roving reference here. It’s the same price as a netbook laptop. But probably easier to carry around, easier to show stuff to people, easier to make the text larger for people who need larger text (you just touch and stretch the screen with your fingers to make the text larger – just like an iPhone). And has a 178 degree viewing angle, so it would work well to show stuff to patrons.

Game changer? I think so … or maybe I’m just gushing at the cool new toy. What do you think?

  • http://twitter.com/jenniferwaller JenWaller

    The iPad makes me sad that I was given a Kindle over the holidays! The iPad blows the Kindle out of the water. Kindle's interface reminds me of late '80's technology.

    I was (and am) stoked about the iPad (except for the name). I truly wish it had a camera/video (although it's possible it does – I only listened to today's announcement with one ear). Not having a camera/video wouldn't prevent me from buying one though.

    My biggest disappointment, however, is that it doesn't multitask (again, please correct me if I'm wrong). Lack of multitasking is really the only thing that bugs me about my otherwise perfect iPhone.

    I was really geeked about the iPad, and I was really excited about its possibilities. This afternoon I was defending it to people who thought it was “just a big iPhone.” The addition of iWork is brilliant and unexpected (by me). The pricing strategy was equally brilliant and unexpected. However the multitask thing…well…it may make me wait until Apple's next iteration.

    And aren't a lot of today's library users comfortable with and used to multitasking?

  • http://thewikiman.org/blog thewikiman

    I think it's an engagement changer… doesn't do a whole lot *more* than existing tablets, but it does what it does so sexily and usably that people will engage with it. (I never once used the internet on any of my old phones; I use it all the time on my iphone. It's about how it's presented to me, in such a way that I want to engage with it more.)

    Great point about students taking it round with them instead of a heavy bag of books. I've long thought e-books would finally gain full acceptance as convenient alternative to physical books (as opposed to the hysterical, e-BOOKS WILL KILL PRINT! stuff you hear sometimes; they don't need to replace paper copies entirely) and this just opens that possibility up many-fold.

    And it's quite cheap! That's ace.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    You're right – it doesn't multitask. But in thinking about “normal people” –
    ie., my mom, the patrons in my library (even the kids) … I'm sure they can
    all multitask, but they're not when they're in the library – they are
    playing a game, or reading the news, or using the catalog, or doing stuff on

    The multitasking they do is more social – also talking to others, also
    listening to music, etc.

    But I agree – if it was more like a laptop and could multitask, that's be
    even better!

  • Chad_Haefele

    Sorry to be a hater, but… It won't work for me. When I'm writing a word document or working in a spreadsheet, 99% of the time I'm also working with something else – a webpage, an image editor, an external data source, etc. Without multitasking that workflow would become annoying at best. I'm also skeptical about how well I could type via the onscreen keyboard. I was hoping for some Apple interface magic ™ that would solve the input problem, but I don't think that showed up.

    I got a low-powered netbook for less than $200 last year, and love it. It does everything I'd want an ipad to do plus multitasking, USB ports and a keyboard.

    I will admit that I'm intrigued to see how the ipad works as an ebook reader. I haven't seen enough details on that front yet to come to a conclusion.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    That's cool – just my first impressions. IJ'm not sure about that virtual
    keyboard either – though you can buy an add-on physical keyboard for it.

    It'll be interesting to see what happens this year in the ebook industry, to
    be sure!

  • http://bibliokick.wordpress.com/ Bibliokick

    I'm with Chad. I don't think it's a game-changer: it just seems like a larger, upgraded version of the iPod Touch, with optional 3G capability through crappy, crappy AT&T. The inability to multitask is a major obstacle for me. I also don't like losing screen space to the keyboard while typing. I think, like all Apple's products, the iPad *looks* slick, but unlike most of their others, it's missing quite a lot of the functionality that I would want.

    As for the ebook functions: I love my Kindle specifically because it's *not* backlit, but I will be interested to see reviews.

  • tim

    Not to pick your post apart, but it in no way supports Skype or any other video conferencing software due to its lack of camera. Were it to have a camera, a lightweight, portable videoconferencing device would be more appealing than the iPad in its current form, especially in regards to providing reference services for library customers.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Sure it'll support Skype – it's an app, and the thing will run most apps in
    the app store. It might not do the video part, but skype is primarily a voip
    phone (which the ipad will do).

    But agreed that video/camera functionality just makes sense on this thing.

  • tim

    I dropped the ball on my comment :) I was so focused on Skype's videoconferencing capabilities that i neglected what had been its traditional staple of VOIP capabilities. From a library's perspective, especially in hard economic times, I can't see how they could justify purchasing one for roving customer service when a kiosk usually isn't too far away & when some libraries already have cordless phones that could serve the same purpose in spite of the fact that this butts up against the issue of maintaining a respectful (read: not silent) level of conversation in a public space. My focus on having the videoconference capability for customer service would be to actually put a physical face on the library for remote patrons as well as being able to actually show them the physical location of an item of interest or what a library resource (kiosk, book cover, DVD, etc) actually looks like. To me, videoconferencing capability would be a major selling point for libraries.

  • http://www.heatherbraum.info/ Heather Braum

    I've tried to use the Kindle. But as an avid iPhone user, I kept wanting to touch the screen and gave up on it immediately. But to have a device that's basically a large iPhone, and more? I'm there. I already use my iPhone as much more than a smart phone; I write emails on it, I read on it all the time; I watch movies on it. I don't use a computer as much as I used to because I can consume a lot of the media on my iPhone. And now with the chance to do it on a bigger screen, I'm there!

    As a librarian and techie, the possibilities are endless. We use logmein on a lot of our libraries' computers; it works well enough on the iPhone, but would be awesome on the iPad. I want one now, but I've heard that one will come out later in the year with video added on.

  • Luis E. Méndez

    I think the ipad is game changer because it brings new stuff into the game. Out of the box you have a better screen that the kindle or the Nok, you can get a better experience browsing the web, reading your mail, creating events on the calendar and when you are tired of all that you can play a movie or play pebbles or connect 4. Plus don't forget you will get access to your documents via dropbox app or many of the file syncing apps, edit your documents with iwork(way better than office). Also there is a wordpress app this tablet its going to be a hit with bloggers that does not want to carry their laptop. Also with people that are going to give keynote presentation, plug in direct to the projector and you are set. Just give it time and you will see that you will want one.

  • http://www.jmckewan.com/ Jaclyn McKewan

    For reading books I would still prefer an ebook reader. If I want to do web surfing, email, etc. I prefer to do it with a keyboard, so I have a 12-inch laptop for that. (Used to have a netbook but preferred a slightly larger screen.)

    For me, the benefit of an ebook reader is the e-ink. It makes it much easier on the eyes to view a long document, or read a whole book, as opposed to looking at a bright screen. I may also be a little biased because I have suffered from insomnia in the past, and was able to sleep a lot better after taking my doctor's advice – get off the computer and tv close to bedtime and read a book instead. The reasoning (which I've since read elsewhere) is that for some people, the light from a tv or computer can provide too much stimulation close to bedtime, and these people (such as me) are better off just reading a book. Reading a book on an iPad (or even my laptop) would defeat the purpose, so it isn't an option. So for me personally, I still prefer an ebook reader because it lets me read web documents or books when I'm relaxing in the evening.

  • IreneVan

    What would change the game is if Apple upped its corporate philanthropy and donated ipads directly to public libraries. I can see ipads making computing more accessible for patrons with a range of needs and abilities.

  • Melissa

    I'm thinking this could be a great device for my 77-year-old mom!!! Her computer is ancient and we finally cancelled her AOL dial-up. I was thinking about tracking down one of those phones which you can use to receive e-mail, but I think this would do everything she needs. Think of the options for all kinds of seniors….

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Good point! It certainly does have potential there. I've wondered if
    Apple has purposely targeted people who don't have laptops, but are on
    the go a bit – this thing would work well for that large group.


  • technolibrary

    Check out Jeff Utecht's perspective on the Thinking Stick Blog. I'm sort of in between the two of you on my views so far!

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    And a link to an article that agrees with you, from TechCrunch

  • Melissa

    Well, as I was discussing with some friends on Facebook, the iPad changes things for older adults because they're much bigger and easier to see, and they only have to touch, not use a mouse. I wanted to trick out my mom's little cell phone so she could get FB updates, but it would require too much work. An iPad would work so well for her.

  • No

    It's nice, but it's not 500 dollars nice.

  • no

    *Think of the options for all kinds of seniors….*

    I can't see seniors [many of whom are on fixed-incomes] shelling out the upfront costs or the monthly data charges for these devices.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    The cheaper one won't have monthly data charges – it just has a wifi
    connection – so that's not a problem. On the up-front costs, I'm not so
    sure. It makes connecting (ie., email and facebook) easy, and stats & trends
    show that seniors are quickly moving to both in droves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=27435111 facebook-27435111

    I am not sure that the Ipad is a game changer as much as it is a high profile game player. Most of the previous post have pointed out that it is just a huge Iphone/Ipod Touch. The lack of direct USB connectivity and camera are huge let downs for me. Also, using a version of the Iphone OS is a double edge sword. The lack of a normal keyboard makes it perfect to carry around and write papers, surf the internet or what ever in a small package. However, the QWERTY interface on the iphone can be slow in response after 6 months of use. Jobs did say that the unit was utilizing the power of an advance processor. So, we have to see if a touch pad keyboard can keep up with those of us that type really fast. But not to down play this accomplishment, Steve Jobs has gotten the basic idea right by offering something that enhances the basic features of a net book. I am in grad school now, and 25hrs of battery life would be killer if the specs hold true. I would not need to run out to my car and get a charger all the time while working papers. In summary, I think we can hypothesize whether or not this device will succeed in the market all we want, but time will only tell. Apple has never really been totally about innovation. They have been about making existing ideas better and taken them in new directions.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Yep – time will definitely tell. A side note – I've had iphones since they
    first came out, and never had a slow response in my keyboard… possibly a
    problem with your particular iphone?

  • Wallace McLendon

    Jobs an elitist? Interesting read from today's NYT


    but as STEVE LOHR concludes — “The iPad bet could prove a loser for Apple. Some skeptics see it occupying an uncertain ground between an iPod and a notebook computer, and a pricey gadget as well, at $499 to $829. Do recall, though, that when the iPod was introduced in 2001, critics joked that the name was an acronym for “idiots price our devices.” And we know who had the last laugh that time.”

    I'm figuring a $3,500 annual line item in hsl budgets to buy these kinds of technologies early for library R & D would be funds well spent.

  • Melissa

    With the availability of wifi in so many places, connecting would be pretty easy. Seniors just need to know where to go. Libraries provide wifi, right?

  • RadicalPatron

    Game changer – because unlike smart phones and ebook readers, it changes the relationship with content people turn to libraries for. For a view of some rich content in the works and Advertising Age's sense of the market a few years from now. iPad is a gamechanger for libraries.

  • http://www.ebookreaderportable.com portable ebook reader

    Good indeed. I don’t want to miss this opportunity. Thanks for such information.