Ode to the iPad

  • Posted: 16 November 2010 07:15 PM

    Disclaimer - I don’t work or have any financial interests in the companies mentioned below.

    I know that today, there is some disappointment regarding the Beatles announcement.  People expected more, but c’est la vie.  I know I am preaching to the choir, but as an “old timer” on the iPad, I just have to come on here and say my piece about how impactful this product is.

    My background is that I am CEO of a tech startup.  Computing is at the core of what I and my company do. If I wanted to, I could spend every waking hour at work, and still not get everything done that I should.

    I think the vast majority of tech commentators missed the mark on the iPad when it was announced.  There was curiosity and interest, but I don’t think anyone fully appreciated the power of this form factor, the surrounding app universe, instant-on, etc.  This is a product that must be experienced to be understood.  And I don’t mean playing with it for a few hours, I mean USING it for months on end.

    Here is an example of what I mean.  We have a potential new customer for our technology.  We need to completely understand a prospect’s business model and challenge as part of the customer discovery process.  So last night (very late) I had time to spend on this opportunity.  So I was laying in bed doing the following. 

    Went to the web site and downloaded their annual report.  Done in a few seconds.  Saved it into GoodReader which is a great PDF viewer and annotator.  Started looking through the report to pick up relevant data points.  Highlight and annotate really important stuff.  Important e-mail comes in - take care if it in 30 seconds or so.  I get an idea about something in the report and how it links to the value prop of our product.  Flip over to Notetaker, where I make a sketch and HAND WRITE a few notes.  Way faster than typing or mousing around, and impossible to do in bed the old way.  Oh ya, all this time I have some great music on. 

    So I carry on with this process for a while, and in a really short time I am through the document and have a ton of notes in Notetaker (get a stylus by the way).  Now I have a permanent record of my ideas and personal brainstorming session.  No extra work involved. The apps that let me do this cost about $6.00 - wow.

    In the old days, I would be forced to sit somewhere with my notebook, have a sketchpad beside me, likely a printed copy of the annual report too.  I would take over the whole kitchen table, and likely be distracted.  Then when I am done, my work and output are scattered all over the place - some on the computer, some on the note pad, and some as yellow highlights in the annual report.  With the iPad everything is in one place. 

    With the iPad, the entire experience is immersive and enjoyable.  It also started on a whim - I decided that I couldn’t sleep and within seconds, I was productive.  In the old way, I would have to think about getting started, assemble all the materials and it would be minutes before I could get started.  I may not have even gotten to the task, due to all the hassle involved. 

    This type of experience is becoming common for me.  Maybe Steve Jobs saw this mode of use coming, but I don’t think many others did, but it is transformational.  It convinces me that this product category is going to be monstrous.  People who are avid users like me become evangelists after they experience what the iPad can deliver. The thing is, we are just getting started.  Soon there will be ever more apps to further enhance this new way of working.

    So don’t fuss if you think today’s Beatles thing is overblown.  There is a much bigger and profitable story building every day, and I think it is going to be bigger than anyone can really imagine.

    To wrap up, go and download an app called Aweditorium.  It is a musical discovery app and it is simply not possible on any other form factor.  It embeds a truly remarkable bit of marketing genius, that you have to try in order to appreciate.  And oh ya, it caused me to spend $20.00 on iTunes in half an hour - money that I had no idea I was going to spend before I downloaded that app.  Its free by the way.

         
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    Posted: 16 November 2010 08:16 PM #1

    Lstream - 16 November 2010 11:15 PM

    Disclaimer - I don’t work or have any financial interests in the companies mentioned below.

    I know that today, there is some disappointment regarding the Beatles announcement.  People expected more, but c’est la vie.  I know I am preaching to the choir, but as an “old timer” on the iPad, I just have to come on here and say my piece about how impactful this product is.

    My background is that I am CEO of a tech startup.  Computing is at the core of what I and my company do. If I wanted to, I could spend every waking hour at work, and still not get everything done that I should.

    I think the vast majority of tech commentators missed the mark on the iPad when it was announced.  There was curiosity and interest, but I don’t think anyone fully appreciated the power of this form factor, the surrounding app universe, instant-on, etc.  This is a product that must be experienced to be understood.  And I don’t mean playing with it for a few hours, I mean USING it for months on end.

    Here is an example of what I mean.  We have a potential new customer for our technology.  We need to completely understand a prospect’s business model and challenge as part of the customer discovery process.  So last night (very late) I had time to spend on this opportunity.  So I was laying in bed doing the following. 

    Went to the web site and downloaded their annual report.  Done in a few seconds.  Saved it into GoodReader which is a great PDF viewer and annotator.  Started looking through the report to pick up relevant data points.  Highlight and annotate really important stuff.  Important e-mail comes in - take care if it in 30 seconds or so.  I get an idea about something in the report and how it links to the value prop of our product.  Flip over to Notetaker, where I make a sketch and HAND WRITE a few notes.  Way faster than typing or mousing around, and impossible to do in bed the old way.  Oh ya, all this time I have some great music on. 

    So I carry on with this process for a while, and in a really short time I am through the document and have a ton of notes in Notetaker (get a stylus by the way).  Now I have a permanent record of my ideas and personal brainstorming session.  No extra work involved. The apps that let me do this cost about $6.00 - wow.

    In the old days, I would be forced to sit somewhere with my notebook, have a sketchpad beside me, likely a printed copy of the annual report too.  I would take over the whole kitchen table, and likely be distracted.  Then when I am done, my work and output are scattered all over the place - some on the computer, some on the note pad, and some as yellow highlights in the annual report.  With the iPad everything is in one place. 

    With the iPad, the entire experience is immersive and enjoyable.  It also started on a whim - I decided that I couldn’t sleep and within seconds, I was productive.  In the old way, I would have to think about getting started, assemble all the materials and it would be minutes before I could get started.  I may not have even gotten to the task, due to all the hassle involved. 

    This type of experience is becoming common for me.  Maybe Steve Jobs saw this mode of use coming, but I don’t think many others did, but it is transformational.  It convinces me that this product category is going to be monstrous.  People who are avid users like me become evangelists after they experience what the iPad can deliver. The thing is, we are just getting started.  Soon there will be ever more apps to further enhance this new way of working.

    So don’t fuss if you think today’s Beatles thing is overblown.  There is a much bigger and profitable story building every day, and I think it is going to be bigger than anyone can really imagine.

    To wrap up, go and download an app called Aweditorium.  It is a musical discovery app and it is simply not possible on any other form factor.  It embeds a truly remarkable bit of marketing genius, that you have to try in order to appreciate.  And oh ya, it caused me to spend $20.00 on iTunes in half an hour - money that I had no idea I was going to spend before I downloaded that app.  Its free by the way.

    Also user of GoodReader and Notetaker and getting “spoiled” by bargain prices for Apps on iPad/iPhone, compared to Microsoft environment licenses and retired Palm Treo. Good point on that.

    This should also address today commentaries from RIM?s CEO Basile on web apps substituting good web browsing. Use FlightTrack Pro integrated with FlightBoard and TripIt from same developer. The experience is much better than web browsing hands down.

    Just downloaded Aweditorium and will try it.

    And agree market players paid too much attention on last week?s iPad bashing and forgot it is just starting and on the lead of the new form factor.

    BTW RIM will release its product sometime Q1 and global release Q2, hence not tried yet.

         
  • Posted: 16 November 2010 08:17 PM #2

    I played with Aweditorium. I didn’t really get.

    This is speaking as a guy way too involved as a musician back in the day and a big fan of all sorts of music.

    The problem is that the interface makes it actually harder to discover music than the developers think.

    Interfaces should be clean and work.

    I hate the way that if you are listening to a track and decide to watch a related video it just drops the volume of the track you are listening to and then play the video at the same time. Neat trick. But completely unnecessary when covering music.

    Just because you can do something technically doesn’t mean you should.

    The problem with Aweditorium is that it seems to be geek driven and it’s doing a lot of cool things which actually obfuscates function and actually works completely against the way most Apple stuff works.

    Yes, it’s cool technically, but really they should step back and try and see what real user do when they get their hands on the program.

    Finding new music shouldn’t be a game. It should be easy.

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  • Posted: 16 November 2010 11:09 PM #3

    Hey Ratty - bit of a polarizing product I guess.  My reaction was just the opposite.  I found that the app encouraged random exploration on my part, and I liked the unstructured nature of the experience.  Kind of made me feel like I was exploring.  I like the “think different” aspect of it, although I can see how it is not everyone’s cup of tea.  It sure did a great job of sending me to iTunes and buying albums I would have not encountered any other way.

    One thing for sure - love it or hate it - the iPad makes such a unique approach possible.

         
  • Posted: 17 November 2010 12:19 AM #4

    Lstream - 17 November 2010 03:09 AM

    Hey Ratty - bit of a polarizing product I guess.  My reaction was just the opposite.  I found that the app encouraged random exploration on my part, and I liked the unstructured nature of the experience.  Kind of made me feel like I was exploring.  I like the “think different” aspect of it, although I can see how it is not everyone’s cup of tea.  It sure did a great job of sending me to iTunes and buying albums I would have not encountered any other way.

    One thing for sure - love it or hate it - the iPad makes such a unique approach possible.

    It’s all personal and it’s nice people are pushing the limits… I just wasn’t as keen. Sorry.

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    Posted: 17 November 2010 02:14 AM #5

    Great account, Lstream.

    I use Goodreader but not annotations yet. Have to try your note app. What works as a stylus?

    I’ve only been using the most rudimentary apps (Goodreader, Dropbox, iBooks, and of course browsing) and already using it 4 hours a day in class and on the subway. Separate usecase is showing photos to friends over a brunch. Feels stupid to whip out a computer in a restaurant—not so with the iPad.

    I desperately want to explore the possibilities with all the apps that came out (such as the DJ / scratch ones) but just haven’t had the time.

    Glad it’s helping you in your business - that’s a powerful testament to the product.

         
  • Posted: 17 November 2010 07:55 AM #6

    I picked up a stylus from Griffin. $20 or so

    [ Edited: 17 November 2010 05:00 PM by Lstream ]      
  • Posted: 17 November 2010 03:46 PM #7

    The model we?re moving toward, though, is premised on the idea that computers shouldn?t require routine tech support. Again, look back at game consoles: an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 is a fully programmable computer with networking capability, offline storage, removable media, the whole shebang, yet all of that is invisible to the user. What file system does a Playstation use and what directories does it put your downloaded games in? The correct answer is: ?Who gives a shit??

    http://chipotle.tumblr.com/post/1432038656/geek-luddites

    I was directed to the above article by Daring Fireball.

    The text quoted above got me thinking. So many, many, iPad detractors harp on the fact that the iPad is not a “real” computer or that it’s “dumbed down”. Here’s the thing. I don’t WANT a real computer. In fact, I don’t even want to know that what I’m using IS a computer. I just want it to solve my problem, or entertain me or educate me or whatever.

    And as for a “dumbed down” interface, well, I know this is going to sound strange, but I don’t think the iPad is dumbed down enough. The things we do naturally, like touching, swiping, pinching and expanding are exactly all we should need to know to make a computer run. There are still a ton of things on the iPad that are obscure to the beginner and even obscure to the experienced, but non-geek, among us. Contrary to what the geeks would have us believe, the iPad won’t really be the computer for the rest of us until the rest of us can use it WITHOUT TRAINING. The iPad is not that device. But the iPad gives me hope that that day is actually coming.

         
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    Posted: 17 November 2010 04:05 PM #8

    FalKirk - 17 November 2010 07:46 PM

    ... The text quoted above got me thinking. So many, many, iPad detractors harp on the fact that the iPad is not a “real” computer or that it’s “dumbed down” ...

    Sound familiar.  Isn’t what those mainframers and Unix folks said about PCs.

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    Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.  - Steve Jobs

         
  • Posted: 17 November 2010 04:12 PM #9

    One thing said about the Mac back when ,” Any system that uses a mouse isn’t a computer, it’s a toy.”

         
  • Posted: 17 November 2010 06:15 PM #10

    On a tangent to iPad, great summation.
    here