By Kimberly Reyes (@CommDuCoeur)
Let’s pretend you’re an alien from outer space and tomorrow is your first day visiting earth.
And you’ve got your entrance music and your “I come in peace” speech ready.
You park your ship and lower the bridge–you’re anxious, but ready to take that one small step for aliens.
…And are soon disappointed to learn that frankly, no one gives a damn.
Before you get down on yourself, you probably should know that tomorrow is truly the worst day for an extraterrestrial landing. Tomorrow, friend, is iPad day.
No, it’s not a religious holiday celebrating the advent of spring. There will be no rituals, no costumes or dancing (well…maybe some dancing). But you’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime to observe a massive gathering of humans at a place called The Apple Store.
To understand the fervor of our worship, you need to know the whole story.
We humans call this innovation, and tomorrow is a big day for innovation.
So what exactly is the iPad? It’s a touchscreen portable computing tablet that uses an onscreen keyboard and connects wirelessly to the Internet via AT&T’s 3G service. The sleek and compact device lets users surf the Web, watch video, listen to music, view and edit photos, or interact with Apple’s extensive library of applications–some models even have assisted GPS capability.
While its critics have pointed out that the iPad isn’t very conducive to content creation, it’s certainly transformed the way we experience things.
The iPad especially holds profound implications for a floundering publishing industry, overcome and overwhelmed by the digital revolution. Magazines like WIRED and newspapers like The New York Times that already publish a wealth of high-quality multimedia content to a devout readership will lead the transition from print to digital, showing the biz how it’s done, how much it will cost, what it looks like, and how successful it will be. And book publishers get another eReader like the Amazon Kindle, but with a large color screen, a visually appealing user interface, and the ability to annotate text.
The business sector gets a new high-tech tool to amplify their presentations and a way to stay plugged in while they’re on the road. Apple adapted its office management suite for the iPad, making you the guy that has all the answers and never misses a deadline.
The most promising application of Jobs’ new gadget is its significance to healthcare in this crucial age of reform. For a lot of people, “healthcare reform” sparks controversial discussions around insurance coverage and the federal budget. But a lot of pharmacists and physicians are experiencing another kind of reform, to the tune of electronic health records, FDA regulations, and pharma’s big move into the digital space. Sophisticated mobile devices like the iPad can greatly improve the way doctors are educated, the way they practice, and the way they interact with the entire healthcare community.
Pretty neat stuff, huh? Now that we know what the iPad can do, let’s see what it all means.
The iPad will not replace the laptop. I’m just going to put that out there. No one’s going to use it to write thesis papers or run financial reports. Like I said earlier, the iPad is changing the way we watch TV shows and movies, listen to music, read books and magazines, look at photos, and browse the web. And it’s making all these industries adapt.
It’s making the television industry reformat your favorite shows for digital viewing. It’s making the music industry re-evaluate how it makes money. It’s making web developers pay more attention to cross-platform functionality.
Sure, this all sounds great, but as with any first-generation product, there are downsides (or, as we like to call it: “opportunities to evolve”). The common complaints have been about the iPad’s lack of a built-in camera. For a lot of potential customers, this was a dealbreaker. There’s also been criticism over the lack of phone functionality, to which we say: if you misplace your headphones, how willing would you be to hold that thing next to your head? Seriously, think about it. There are also no USB ports. My personal opinion is that the hardware needs to be built in. If external devices need to be carried around and then plugged in, it’s counterintuitive to the lightweight iPad design, and by extension, its function. As far as Flash support goes…well, that’s a different can of worms we’ll save for your next visit to Earth 🙂