The iPad Impact

"What is unique about the iPad is they are truly the most tactile device, with a larger screen where you are actually moving the content with your hands, not a mouse or keyboard," she said. "This is a more immersive experience than the lean back of TV or the lean forward of the PC. You are part of the content."

Great quote from Catherine Spurway, Pointroll VP Advertising and Marketing.  I've been using an iPad for about a month now and my expectations and early hypotheses have been shattered.  When Apple announced the iPad I felt it would be mostly a media consumption device - a large iTouch.  I believed it would be hard to use for productivity based work apps.  I under valued this revolutionary product and the great opportunity for touch interfaces.

The iPad experience is so superior to the PC or Mac model.  I now refuse to travel with my Sony notebook (which is quite small).  I am typing this blog from my iPad while the person sitting next to me on this AA flight watches a movie on hers.  I brought my notebook on this business trip but haven't booted it up - just thinking about that makes me queasy!  For now on, the Sony will stay in its dock in my office.  I feel so liberated and know my travel life will be better, easier, more productive and more entertaining.  A wise colleague has a great blog called "Death of the Mouse".
 Through my recent iPad experience, I now understand the paradigm change to touch interfaces.  As the mouse dies, so will the hardware and software that work with mice and support the PC paradigm.

This is possible due to the beautiful Apple design and user experience plus cloud computing, easy low-cost apps, and improved and pervasive mobile broadband.  This iPad experience will only get better as more apps are released and integration between apps, device and cloud services improves.  There are a slew of new business productivity iPad apps hitting the market including apps for viewing, editing and saving Microsoft office files.  The NY Times reviewed a couple of these new apps today. 

The Puppy Effect
Many of us have experienced the magnet effect of walking a puppy in NYC (free tip for singles out there). Well, my new puppy is my iPad.  Everyone wants to see it, touch it, play with it.  I am having more conversations with strangers (do I really want/need that)?  And once someone tries it, they must have one.  I have seen this with a few friends already with their wives contacting me with questions so they can order the iPad for Fathers Day.
Naturally, being the digital marketing consultant and competitive freak that I am, I need to make a bunch of predictions about the winners and losers from the new iPad paradigm so here goes.

The Winners
  • Apple, naturally – the stock broke 270 today…all time high.
  • Smart advertisers (and agencies) who will test this platform before it reaches scale – test, measure, refine…
  • iPad app developers – the smart ones will develop “universal applications" (iPad, iPhone, etc.)
  • iPad accessory makers – the iPad needs a lot of accessories to connect to devices, to enjoy media, etc.
  • Desktop makers – much cheaper than laptops.  More will ask “do a really need a laptop and iPad?”.
  • Cloud services – as local storage goes away, demand for the cloud increases.
  • Digital Content producers – the iPad is the best digital content device ever.
The Losers
  • Apple, again - do we really need both iPad and iPhone?  There are better phones and networks.  Plus, there's little app synergy yet.  Time will tell...
  • Notebook makers – see above.
  • Software incumbents – see above.

So, what do you think?  Please comment below.

A Post That's Not (really) About the iPad

In choosing “Digital Street Smarts” as the name of our blog, Jack and I wanted to emphasize that we’ll be providing thoughts on social media, mobile, and digital marketing from a practical, “lived it,” point of view. This kind of work ethic led me to unexpected places this week when I took a short vacation to my parents’ house so that they could spend some quality time with the grandkids. It was good to get my head out of my laptop (and phone), and I found myself making note of events that really brought to life all of the stats and trends that we read/write about on a daily basis. Stepping back like this allowed me to focus on real-life social media + mobile experiences for a few days. Here's what I saw...

My 60-ish Year Old Dad: Dad is a champion of traditional media consumption. In addition to going through a new novel and several magazines each week, he reads an actual local newspaper every night while simultaneously watching movies/sitcoms/news on TV. On my first night there, he said to me “If this isn’t a sign of the times, I don’t know what is,” and showed me the local newspaper. It was a thin, flimsy thing. I’ve seen junk mail that’s thicker. We all know that newspapers are going out of business, but to see a newspaper that serves a metro area of over one million people in such a weakened state really hit me. I could almost hear it gasping for breath over the background noise of the TV...

My 22 Year-old Sister: Like most people her age, my “baby” sister silently texts to friends constantly, even as she engages in conversations that are right there in the room with her. No surprises there. The poignant moment came at night however, when she passed out on the family couch (she had generously given up her old room so that my kids would have a quite place to nap and sleep at night). For four nights in a row, my sister literally fell asleep with her phone in her hand. In the same way that she dozed in and out of late night conversations with her siblings who were in the room with her, she also talked to friends via text – that’s how fundamental her phone is to her life experiences.

My Three Year Old Son:  My older son just turned three and has been spending increasing amounts of time online. It has recently evolved from simply watching videos (robots or construction videos on YouTube) to more interactive content related to what he watches on TV (Sesame Street and Sid The Science Kid). At first, he needed more time than I expected to learn how to use the trackpad and mouse. As intuitive as we think these devices are, the truth is that using a mouse is an unnatural and learned behavior. He repeatedly reached out to touch the screen when we first started using my laptop and still occasionally does so. His behavior certainly makes sense and is probably influenced by his use of my Droid phone.

The part where I talk about the iPad: So where's all of this lead? In light of the iPad, I’ve been talking a lot with colleagues about the death of purpose-specific hardware, and you can easily see how a tablet device would serve each of the above users extremely well (and upend a few business models in the process). Today’s post was initially about the iPad device, but instead, I want to make this point: You can’t learn everything from a book. Or even an ebook. Or even from As our relationships with our technologies become ever more intimate, remember that some of the best learning re: media/social media/mobile/internet can occur right under our noses. Our modern lives play out in a rainforest that is rich with technology; playing Jane Goodall for a few days and getting in the weeds can really bring to life and add context to all of those statistics and numbers.

Starting tomorrow, we'll be hit with another deluge of iPad related announcements and commentary. As you wade through that, remember this: Steve Jobs allegedly delayed development of the iPad for several years because the experiences (via the larger iTunes ecosystem) were not yet in place. Jobs knew that if he couldn't replace Dad's newspaper, the iPad was just another thing.

We can all learn from this. Social Media is not about the thing (the platform or the device) itself. It is about enabling and improving experiences. I encourage you to get in the weeds and make some observations of your own and to think about towards where those signposts are pointing. Share in the comments!