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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

My iPad fantasy

Sunday was good; in fact it was better than good, it was sensational. I spent the morning in bed with a rather toothsome new friend. Outside it poured with rain. Perfect, we didn’t need to go anywhere because I was having more fun running my hands over her curves.

 She’s slim; even sleek, and she is so damn responsive when I stroke her. When I clasped her I felt a buzz, a thrill. This, I thought, is definitely the one for me. She was so beautiful, like she might have fallen out of an alien space ship. What I mean is, she looked like she came from the future. A celestial future, where everything is perfect. 

Yes, over here in London, I  managed to get its hands on an iPad for the weekend ahead of the official launch. The publishing industry has taken to calling it the Jesus Tablet and if you ever get your hands on one you too will get that surge of faith, you will see, touch and believe. You’re doubtful I can tell, but I have an advantage over you - I’ve already used one.  Over the last few months The Mash has talked often about the iPad and even suggested that it will revolutionise media and the web. Here’s the scoop, that may be an understatement.

The point I am making with the purple prose and fevered day dreams is that the iPad changes your experience of the internet. With an iPad you consume content, rather than surf the net; the experience is sensual and absorbing. One reason for this is that absence of a keyboard means that you can hold it in one hand like a book, or magazine. You are going to find this so much more comfortable than cradling  a PC in your lap. For starters, it reduces those aches and pains you get from staying on a key board too long. With an iPad you can lie in bed; or crash out on the sofa and experience the web in comfort. As more of us spend our leisure time communicating on social networks, adding pleasure and ergonomics to the equation is something of a great leap forward.

In a year or so when the price has dropped by a third, or a half, The Mash suspects  households will buy several. If you think that’s a bit rich, look at the
chart above, which is of US TV ownership. More than half US homes now have three or more TV sets. The iPad’s screen is sensational, so viewing videos is much more fun than on a PC. To tell you the truth, now that I have experienced the iPad I am not so sure there is much of a future for Amazon’s Kindle. As far as most homes go a device like an iPad has many more uses than either a TV or a computer, but most of all it is personal. Just like with mobile phones, the Mash suspects that consumers are going to become wedded to their iPads.

This might seem like hyperbole but just as Avatar has changed people’s expectations of film so the iPad will change our expectations of the internet and digital content. In two or three years, when the price is closer to two hundred dollars, devices like the iPad will take the emerging markets by storm and when they do the consequences will be profound.

Within the next five years the Mash suspects that a whole generation of children will have their first experience of reading on an electronic device such as the iPad. They will grow up imagining books and newspapers as digital. You might disagree and speaking as someone who owns a rather substantial library, it is with some regret that I write these words. Yet, let’s not forgot that once books used to be on lumps of clay, then they moved to papyrus, or where even chiselled into sheets of copper. No doubt there were those who moaned when the first paper back appeared. In each turn of the evolutionary cycle Marshall McLuhan’s famous dictum operates: The medium is the message. In other words, the medium through which content is presented changes the consumer’s experience of that content. The iPad brings the power of digital technology and the breadth of the internet and marries it into a desirable and useful object. The iPad will become a talisman, a treasured object with almost magical power.