Saturday, May 29, 2010
Reader, I bought one.
I'd been waiting for weeks. Hearing the news that sales had gone so well in the States that they'd be launched late here came as an almost physical blow. Taken in by the hype? Yes, like a child is by Christmas. And lo, when the morning came there I was with hundreds of other goons waiting at half seven for the Westfield Apple Store to open so I could buy one with the money saved up from doing extra shifts. It felt odd to line up for an item of consumer goods, a bit like Ms T says you did in Soviet Russia; what an irony, one of the richest companies in the world now forces consumers to line up round the block.
I have never behaved like this before in my life, I thought, as the black blinds dropped from the storefront while cheering clapping Apple staff ushered the first favoured few inside. A man came up. Did I want coffee while I waited? Yes, I said. Have you pre-ordered? he asked. I had not so could not have one. You have to hand it to Apple, they have it sorted to a fault. But you have to play their game.
Eventually I got to the head of the queue - it took around an hour all told - and a cheerful girl took me inside, found me my flavour of ipad (32G with 3G) and relieved me of my money. Then she activated it, so I could take it back to the office and show people. Because that's the fun with this device. Everyone loves it.
All day they came up to my desk. I hear you've got one, they'd say, so I'd give it them to play with. Suspicious frowns were replaced with slow growing smiles as the super smooth browser produced vibrant, almost tactile web pages you can blow up with a stretch of two fingers. The BBC iplayer boots easily off the web and plays HD quality imagery. The book thingy has Winnie the Pooh which charms and delights as it expands off the shelf and offers itself for page turning. The maps explode off the screen and reduce down with a couple of taps on the screen into a beautifully rendered streetview.
Above all, the sensation of speed and smoothness in everything the ipad does, and a feeling of considered design producing a trouble free experience. As others have remarked, their stuff just works, and how. In comparison with my netbook it's a Bentley ride after the Ford Focus. Sure they'll both get there. But my God, the difference in style. It's a little heavy perhaps, but I sense this is my digital companion on all manner of trips from here on in. And it'll be my handy second screen at work for twitter and news apps.
We're at the start of the journey with this device. The iphone was an instant hit with me but then I bought a 3G one when there were already thousands of apps in the store. The ipad is going to be the focus of a massive amount of creativity from software designers and publishers. I get the sense the device will gradually become essential for media types like me, and possibly many more people as the simplicity and ease of use beguiles and enslaves.
Will the ipad save publishing? Can it save newspaper journalism? I don't know. My hunch is that we'll know within two years.