My First 36 Hours With the IPad: a Verdict

It's for Content Consumption, not Content Creation, and Advertising Will Be 'Awesome'

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Ian Schafer
Ian Schafer
After playing around with the iPad for 36 hours (with some sleep mixed in), I can honestly say that the device is pretty impressive. The screen is beautiful and sensitive, everything is screaming fast, and the battery life is what it should be. While I've read many, many reviews about the iPad, there are some aspects of it that really got me thinking.

The device is amazing. The apps are weak. So far.
You can't fault the developers that much here -- they only had less than a month, with no test device in most cases. But initial negative reactions to the iPad seem to have more to do with app shortcomings than device shortcomings. The apps have a lot of room for improvement. But that will happen. The iPad is going to get better as the apps do.

The best thing about the device is what isn't resident on it
The web looks amazing on the iPad. It works amazingly, too, but only when sites you visit have switched out HTML5 for Flash. Embedded video looks great. That's right. Embedded video on a mobile device. The web version of some sites look so good, it may supersede the need to develop an app (unless they want to sell it). Facebook.com may be the best way to experience Facebook on the iPad.

This is not a content-creation device
Or at least that is not the iPad's primary purpose. You can get some of that done, but primarily, this is a content-consumption device. That means it is not a laptop replacement for many of you. But are you surprised? This is an additional device. It's not as much a game-changer as it is a game-inventor. I can already tell that I will be carrying my iPad around the office, making it the best way for me to check e-mail, access my calendar (the calendar is beautiful), and take notes (the Evernote app is a gem). Heck, I can even watch GoToMeeting or WebEx presentations on it. The ABC app is probably the most impressive thing to show someone on the iPad. Followed by the MLB At Bat app. You won't want to watch video on a laptop again. Seriously.

It's for your mom
As I was explaining the iPad to my mother over the phone, I realized that this thing was made for her. Casual games, e-mail, web, and video are what this thing does best. Once she handles this, she's going to want it. I bet your mom (as long as she has an e-mail address) will want one too. Actually, anyone that has an iPod Touch will want the iPad right after they see it in person. It's as if Steve Jobs created the iPod Touch just to make people "pre-familiar" with the iPad. After looking at the iPad for a few minutes, your iPhone will also look like a postage stamp.

Advertising is going to be awesome on this
That's right. If ads are done gracefully on the iPad, there is a real opportunity to add value in a deeply, richly engaging way. Video might finally have found its rightful place -- within the mobile Safari web browser and/or app ecosystem.

Social media has a long way to go on the iPad
I mentioned that it's not a content-creation device. Well, it's not a content-sharing device either -- yet. Social-media elements need to become a more integral part of the in-app content consumption experience. Right now it's pretty insular. It shouldn't be.

Gaming on the iPad might be huge
And by gaming, I just don't mean, casual, or even role-playing. I mean board gaming. Watch this:


My verdict?
I'm bigger on the iPad's potential than where it is today. But where it can be has less to do with the hardware, and everything to do with what third-party developers dream up. You don't need it. But remember that feeling when you got wireless internet for the first time? Or cracked open your first laptop? You didn't need those things either, yet look what people figured out to do with those.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian Schafer is the CEO of Deep Focus, and can be stalked on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ischafer.
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