INSIDE MOBILE: Becoming Part of the Apple iPad Generation

 
 
By J. Gerry Purdy  |  Posted 2010-04-07
 
 
 

INSIDE MOBILE: Becoming Part of the Apple iPad Generation


I felt that I simply had to be a part of the iPad Generation and get an iPad on Saturday morning, April 3, 2010. I just loved the Modern Family episode last week that had Phil wanting to get an iPad for his birthday, Claire falling asleep on the sofa past the opening of the Apple Store, and then Phil's son Luke coming to the rescue claiming his father was dying online and that his last wish was to hold an iPad. That was one of the best product placements of all time.

Then there were the news stories of people getting in line on Friday morning in Los Angeles and New York. I knew that the iPad was going to be an important new mobile computing paradigm, and on Friday I felt that it would great to be part of the experience. I told my wife Alicia that I was going to get up at 5:30a.m. and go get in line at the Wellington Mall where we spend the winters near Palm Beach.

I got there at 5:58a.m. I was number six in line. The first two were teenagers from Long Island who were visiting the Palm Beach area on spring break. They had arrived at 4:40a.m. Number three was a software developer. Number four was a pregnant mother who had offered to get up early and get an iPad for her husband as a birthday gift. Number five was a mother and son from Munich, Germany. They were visiting family who live in the area.

By 7:00a.m, the mall security guard opened the doors. The line had grown to around 15 people. They had already cordoned off the area in front of the store in two lines: one for those who had reserved and prepaid and one for those who had not. According to the mall's security, the shipment of the store's iPads had arrived via UPS around 1:30a.m. The store personnel arrived at 6:00a.m. to unpack the boxes and set up the displays in the store. The store personnel had put up a black curtain to block their store's displays. There was definitely an aura of it being a very special event.

Apple iPad Customers Waiting In Line


Apple iPad customers waiting in line

What struck me most about the process was the high level of friendly interaction that developed among the people in line, with the Apple store staff that came out to talk with those in line and with the news media that came to record the event. 

I learned about the history of why the two teenagers' parents from Long Island had come to be taking vacations at the Breakers residences next to the famous resort: They had purchased the house for the grandfather and grandmother. However, in an interesting turn of events, the grandparents discovered they didn't like living in Palm Beach, so they went back to New York, leaving the home there for their kids and grandkids.

The woman next to me in line manages investments for a German family and is doing strategy for one of their portfolio companies. That company is developing a cool Web portal that integrates photos and videos together. It's licensing the portal to major bands and other groups whose community members want to post integrated, rich media. They are coming to the United States soon. Her son was texting his older brother, who was in Europe, trying to make him feel jealous of not being there.

"I'm going to be the only kid in Germany with an iPad. It's going to be so cool," said the youngster in perfect English (they had spent time living in the United States).

The software developer said he was there to help him think about what kind of iPad application he might develop that would be successful.

By 8:00a.m., the line had grown to something around 50 or 60 people and, by the time the store opened at 9:00a.m., there were well over 100 people in line.

The Official iPad Unveiling


The official iPad unveiling

Just before 9:00a.m., the store manager came out to do the "official unveiling." He thanked everyone for getting up so early to experience the exciting new iPad. He then unveiled the drape and the entire staff began to applaud. The crowd applauded. The camera crews filmed the entire scene. This was definitely turning out to be a memorable event.

The sales process went very smoothly. Apple had plenty of iPads in stock (more than the number of those that had reserved and prepaid), so they alternated people coming in one at a time from each line. Apple store personnel formed a greeting line and thanked each person for coming in. Then, one person took each customer to show them the iPad and ring up the purchase.

I purchased the 64GB version and an Apple cover for it, and I was out of the store by 9:15a.m. The line was still growing but it appeared that everyone was going to be able to go home with an iPad.

The entire experience was very fulfilling. Imagine feeling fortunate to have just spent $700! The staff seemed to truly appreciate every single customer that came in to the store that day. It was an honest expression. The staff members were just as excited as the customers.

In my previous column on the iPad, I declared that the iPad (and others that will follow) will create a "three mobile device" paradigm where we'll have a notebook to create and do serious typing and research, a smartphone to call, message and exchange snippets of interaction, and we'll have a tablet that will be our carry-around to use all during the day, at different times and for different activities.

First iPad Impression and Use


First iPad impression and use

My first impression of the iPad when I took it out of the (beautifully packaged) box and plugged it into my MacBook Pro was that it looked and felt like a really big iPod touch. The main screen looks the same. It has that same slider image to turn it on. It has the iPhone/iPod touch feel.

I then registered the iPad via iTunes and synchronized my music with the iPad. I got the WiFi set up-it found our home network and popped a message to activate. And I got the Calendar and Contacts to sync via the Info tab in the iTunes iPad menu (this could have been easier to set up via the MobileMe site with the "add an iPad to list of devices to sync" feature).

Then the fun began. I found myself taking the device everywhere around the house and doing things with it on the spur of the moment. While standing in the living room, Alicia's son Grant (who was visiting from Atlanta) immediately showed us a YouTube video of his new band. Then I purchased Danny Gokey's new hit song in iTunes. It will be interesting to see how many different places in the house people will be able to use the device (for example, the living room, garage, bedroom or bathroom).

The first few applications that I loaded were Pandora (streaming personalized music), the Amazon reader (access to all Kindle books) and the Bento database from FileMaker. All worked well on the larger screen. There are not many books in the iPad iBooks Store when compared with Amazon, but Apple will increase the number of books in iBooks over time. I downloaded the Amazon Reader application for the iPad and then downloaded my first book (Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi) since it wasn't available in iBooks.

In the iBooks application, you get some clever little enhancements such as turning a page graphically. Plus, the text is easier to read because the iPad display has more contrast than the Amazon Kindle display (at least indoors). It will be interesting to see how eye strain reacts to the iPad versus the Kindle over time.

I realized that I needed to make a mental shift from initially viewing the iPad as a connected mobile device (that operates as a slave to the Mac or PC) to viewing the iPad as a stand-alone communicating computer. It was really a major paradigm shift. You register the iPad as being a connected device to your Mac or PC, and then decide what music and data will be synchronized to the iPad via iTunes. Thus, your initial impression is that the iPad works through the Mac or PC and then becomes a reference device. However, once I detached the iPad from my MacBook Pro, I used it almost exclusively as a stand-alone, mobile computing computer.

I believe that Apple should have the iPad first recognize the available WiFi network and then conduct the iPad registration wirelessly. After registration by WiFi (or eventually via 3G, when these higher-end products come to market in May), then the user can start browsing the Web, buying applications from the Apps Store, books from the iBooks Store and music from iTunes. Thus, without ever connecting the iPad to the Mac or PC, you could already be doing useful work. You eventually need to dock the iPad to a Mac or PC so that you can use iTunes to download your music, photos, contacts and calendar entries and to charge the unit.

Using the iPad for E-mail and Menu Planning


Using the iPad for e-mail and menu planning

I was able to access mail on my MobileMe e-mail account (gerrypurdy@me.com). I'll likely forward some of my MobileTrax e-mail to my MobileMe e-mail account so I can see what's going on via the iPad when out on the back porch or while watching TV. Alicia has already used the iPad to check on equestrian event updates and for menu planning in the kitchen.

In another recent column, I described how people will spend their time using different screens in their lives. It appears that the iPad will be used both during existing activities (such as while watching TV), as well as allocate time away from other activities (such as dedicated use). And, because it's so convenient and available all the time, it will get more spur-of-the-moment use than a notebook.

I fully expect that the most exciting applications for the iPad will be those developed specifically for the iPad. I fully expect to see insanely great applications developed and adopted in the different categories over the coming year. And, I'm certainly going to have to define a number of new categories to watch, and then acknowledge success with, in future Mobility Awards.

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC. As a nationally recognized industry authority, Dr. Purdy focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Dr. Purdy is an "edge of network" analyst looking at devices, applications and services, as well as wireless connectivity to those devices. Dr. Purdy provides critical insights regarding mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld. He is author of the column Inside Mobile & Wireless that provides industry insights and is read by over 100,000 people a month.

Dr. Purdy continues to be affiliated with the venture capital industry as well. He currently is Managing Director at Yosemite Ventures. And he spent five years as a Venture Advisor for Diamondhead Ventures in Menlo Park where he identified, attracted and recommended investments in emerging companies in mobile and wireless. He has had a prior affiliation with East Peak Advisors and, subsequently, following their acquisition, with FBR Capital Markets. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people's mind-sets, as well as developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, Dr. Purdy's ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile and wireless industry. He is author of three books as well.

Dr. Purdy currently is a member of the Program Advisory Board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which produces CES, one of the largest trade shows in the world. He is a frequent moderator at CTIA conferences and GSM Mobile World Congress. He also is a member of the Board of the Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum. Dr. Purdy has a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from University of Tennessee, a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Exercise Physiology from Stanford University. He can be reached at gerry.purdy@mobiletrax.com.

Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I'll disclose it at that time.

Rocket Fuel