By Jonny Evans
"There's an old saying in the business world, If it works, it's obsolete. And it is only when a thing has become obsolete that everybody is sufficiently familiar with it to make it work."
Marshall McLuhan, 1970
This evening I finally understood the iPad. This evening the iPad became obsolete. That's because tonight (this morning in parts of America) I saw the launch of what could be the fastest-selling, biggest-selling consumer electronics product since the last one.
The post-PC planet
And now, finally, I understand the post-PC planet, where we are going, and where we've been. And I don't mean to sound like this is some kind of conversion or anything, because it isn't, but think about it.
Think about this:
The iPad is an outstanding machine for personal consumption of media of any kind. Music, video, email, the Web, applications, TV, you name it, the iPad can access it. The iPad is the ultimate in personal technology.
So, now we need to define the iPad 2. What is iPad 2?
I say, where iPad was media consumption, iPad 2 is media creation. Think about it. Think how essential this device could become across North Africa as tech-savvy protesters use iPad 2 to capture, edit, and share real-life video footage from the revolutionary wave that's finally exploding across this planet.
Televizing revolution: iPad 2
In other words, the iPad 2 isn't going to be the revolution. It's going to film it. Make the music for it. Write it. Talk about it and share it. This is a collectively social thought enabler, the reincarnation of the digital connection between the acolytes of augmented reality on this still fairly green planet.
(The CNN sharing button inside iMovie for iPad gives it away.)
I am amazed at the speed and efficiency of iMovie on this device. I make iMovies from time-to-time, and I know that this is as fast -- with advanced editing features -- as I need for some of the work I do. Same for GarageBand. Apple isn't lying about the speed of the processor, or its graphics support. What more can I say? The iPad 2 is fast, responsive, speedy and a pleasure to use.
I'm heartened to have been right about the processor, memory, graphics improvements, cameras, lightness and the fact that it is thinner too. I was never convinced at the absent Home button claims -- there's a button for this there.
(I do think losing the Home button on an iPhone might make sense in order to maximize screen real estate).
Beyond the visible
We need to develop our understanding of what the iPad 2 is, so I'd like you to cast your mind back to last year's iPad:
- Think about when the product was introduced, and we talked about the processor, graphics power, screen, weight and thickness and shed acres of tears in an attempt to grab some AdSense revenue on strength of the "missing" video camera.
- We talked about the specifications then, but we didn't recognize the Apps-led impact of the device on education, medicine, business, hotels and restaurants, the games industry, stocks and shares, the enterprise, menus, teenagers....there's so many sectors impacted now.
- That was then...
This is now:
- Today's iPad is faster, with super-powered graphics. My little tests with the device showed me that even cut and paste operations on the iPad are a whole lot faster.
- It is slicker, somehow, even more responsive -- and while Apple wasn't demonstrating AirPlay to AppleTV streaming from a Web page (I'm a little annoyed at that) tonight, we can imagine using an iPad 2 to edit video on our lap, while watching the actual iPad 2 screen -- on a huge TV screen. In full HDMI.
Apple's Steve Jobs (who all my sources tell me was animated and healthy-seeming throughout the event, even off-stage) is already telling us how to understand the device. He's talking about "developers" and "Apps" and "setting the bar high".
The iPad 2 has graphics power nine times faster than before. We have dual-core multitasking-happy processors, more memory. Developers will already be thinking how they can apply these improvements, to what level they can extend Apple's product with their own Apps.
Developers, developers, developers
It will go like this:
- First we'll see the rewritten Apps for the iPad 2.
- Then we'll see the software that could never have run on the last-gen product begin to appear.
- Then we'll see the Lion-savvy software make its debut.
The the PC will indeed be a truck. We'll use them. We'll buy them. But we won't want to carry them anywhere.
We have a year to define the iPad 2, and I believe it will take a year before it reaches its full potential.
People muttering about how iPad 3 will be the one to watch should stop chattering about the inevitable. I have it on reasonably good authority that iPad 5 will be even better than 3! Can you believe it?
I don't think we should get obsessed with the tech-specs as they appear on paper. I think we should be obsessed with what we can make this new device do. We won't fully comprehend it until the next generation.
I think the iPad 2 is opening up a whole new conversation, brand new opportunities at the heart of art and technology.
The iPad 2 is a canvas ready to receive, share, consume and create our ideas in the post-PC age.
Dreamers are dreaming. Developers are developing.
What do you want them to build for you?