January 27, 2010
A message to the Internets regarding the iPad

"Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense." - Gertrude Stein

Oh Internets, how I love your unrealistic optimism, your pervasive cynicism, your willingness to believe any rumor, no matter how far fetched, and your desire to pronounce judgment on things with the tiniest amount of actual information.

Today Apple announced the iPad. Amazingly it did not fulfill every expectation that was floating out there. Most importantly, it does not fulfill every, specific desire you have and expected. The rumor machine of tech web sites promised you so much more.

Oh noes.

Let me explain it clearly and talk you off the ledge before you go and do something stupid.

Remember way back to January 2007, when the iPhone was announced? Oh Internets, you wailed and gnashed your teeth endlessly. No 3G network? No MMS? No apps on the iPhone? No replaceable battery? Oh, your complaints were endless. You were sure that the iPhone was doomed because it didn't meet all your requirements.

And what happened? Well, Apple has sold 40 million iPhones. FORTY MILLION. They have become the largest mobile device company in the world.

So today, you moan on and on about all the features you expected and demand in the iPad. What no Verizon? No two-way camera? It's not weightless? A full half inch thick? Only 10 hours of battery life? You make tons of predictions on the success and failure with scant details and without ever actually trying one.

Well, I am lucky enough to have been at the Apple Event today. Deep within the Reality Distortion Field. I saw the demo live, not snap shots on a web site. I got to use the iPad and see how it worked in person. I talked with other people that had tried it.

And you know what, just like Steve Jobs said, you need to hold it for yourself. It's a different computing experience. It's intuitive and simple. The device is blazingly fast and obvious how to use. It is a third kind of computing between a smartphone and a laptop.

For those that have iPhones, you know the experience of showing someone the iPhone for the first time. The look in their face, when they first flick the screen or squeeze the image to zoom. The realization that this is something different, very different, than what they have experienced before.

I am a technology professional. For almost 20 years I've tested, used, broke, fixed, and played with all kinds of technology from broadcasting to air conditioning to software. I am not easily swayed in these things. But even with all my skepticism, I think the iPad is something different. A new way of computing that will become commonplace.

Oh Internets, I know you won't believe till you hold one in your hands. You'll bang on about features, data plans, DRM, open source, and a multitude of issues. You'll storm the message boards, wring your hands, and promise you won't buy one till 'Gen 2'. The din will grow and grow as time passes.

And then one day, in a few months, you will actually hold one and use it. And you will say, "I want one. I want one right now."

So, my sweet beloved Internets, please take a deep breath, relax and stay away from your regular knee-jerk reactions. Have a little patience, a quality you are not known for, my sweet Internets.

And please, please stop trying to make predictions about what's next, you have no clue and just look stupid when you do.

"You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new." - Steve Jobs

Posted by michael at January 27, 2010 08:24 PM