iPad mania hits planet, queues everywhere. Why?

By Jonny Evans

iPad 2 mania has hit the planet. Lengthy queues are forming outside Apple [AAPL] shops worldwide as the product goes on sale. I believe there's already more excitement than for the iPad 1. The buzz reminds me of the introduction of OS X and the iPod in 2001. What's Apple's magic? Why is the iPad set to dominate the tablet market for yet another year? And what are the three coolest things you'll be doing with your iPad 2 when you finally get hold of one?

Step one: The evidence

First, some footage taken from the queues.

[Above: The phenomenally long iPad 2 queue in Sydney Australia]

No one's telling me Apple has enough of these things to meet this level of demand, it clearly hasn't -- my order placed online at 1am this morning in the UK won't actually ship until April 27. That's a month away.

[Above: Queues form at Apple retail stores in France]

BlackBerry Playbook may offer support for Android Apps, but will it generate excitement like this? HP may have a plan for a webOS ecosystem, but will it create the same excitement? And Microsoft will enter the tablet (2.0) market next year, maybe...

[Above: London's flagship Regent Street store also has a queue]

We can discuss specifications until all the proverbial milk cattle come home whistling some kind of agrarian folk melody, but it makes not one iota of difference. An old engineering adage is driving Apple's success here. You may even have heard it -- it gets repeated a lot because it is so true, here it is: "Better is not necessarily better than best."

[Above: Look here's Toronto's Eaton Center. It has a iQueue...]

Consumers don't seem to care if they might get a device with a processor that beats a tiny bit faster than the iPad 2's, they already want what Apple's offering.

Why?

Let's turn to a 14-year old geek for that advice, as the analysts and the industry just don't want to say it.

"The iPad only does less than a regular computer to us geeks. To everyone else, it does more," writes J-P Teti.

What does this teen philosopher mean? He puts it thus:

"The iPad is actually opening up technology to more people. None of this crap about it being closed is accurate. By giving people freedom to explore the App store without having to worry about anything (except their wallets), Apple has possibly made the best move they could make by locking down the iPad's installation sources. That's the one that's the most helpful for the general state of technology. Apple is encouraging people to explore and play around," he writes.

This is the essential simplicity at the heart of the iPad's success. It isn't as if Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, has made a secret of this. He's told us the 'Post-PC' age demands that computing become more intuitive. That it isn't about the bells, whistles, and components, but that it is about what these devices actually do.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

Augmented reality

"New technological environments are commonly cast in the molds of the preceding technology out of the sheer unawareness of their designers." Marshall McLuhan

Analysts, journalists, bloggers and competitors want to resist the temptation to accede to the Jobsian logic. I don't blame them. I'd happily agree that there's as many different ways of looking at the future of computing as there are people on the planet. There's no such thing as a "one way", except your own. I appreciate multiculturalism and diversity in all its forms. I'm a London boy, after all. But Jobs is pretty accurate on this one. And thousands upon thousands of iPad 2-hungry consumers across the Earth agree.

The scene's so set for Lion now, as the Mac mutates for the Post-PC age, and the senior Apple guard changes to take the iPlanet to the next level. As the teen blogger says:

"The iPad is more open to more people, and this is why I'm super excited for OS X Lion. I would bet money that Macs will take off even more than they already have when Lion is released. Mark my words."

We know the iPad will eat the market this year. And we know the competition is dust for a few months more. And we also now know that Android isn't really an open system, at least not when it comes to tablets.

What's next? The iPad's success is down to what you do. Here's three things we'll be doing with them this year:

-- All my music everywhere

At Apple's next big event in April I expect the company to trounce Google with its looming Google Music announcement. It will do this by offering up a music locker service via Mobile Me.

This will cost you $20 a month (and, I fear, be available only in the US at first) and will enable you to redownload any iTunes purchases to new computers, and will let you stream your entire collection to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

Wayne Rosso makes these claims, citing industry sources. I've spoken with Mr. Rosso in the past. He knows his stuff and his industry, and I believe him. The time scale may slip as those litigous labels drag their feet, but this service is on its way. Not to mention all those luscious connected Lion enhancements as they're rolled out across the next 12 months.

"A deal would provide iTunes customers with a permanent backup of music purchases if the originals are damaged or lost, said the people. The service also would allow downloads to iPad, iPod and iPhone devices linked to the same iTunes account, they said. The move would be a step closer to universal access to content centrally stored on the Internet," Rosso writes.

-- Got the feeling? Share it there

Color has attracted so much hype. That's because it is a sign of what's to come. There's been images linked to geo data around for a while now. Sure there's a stronger social element, but just what is this service going to be used with?

Might I suggest MobileMe? Could I perhaps observe that Apple is about to put into play another of its quiet innovations, utilizing mapping and sharing technology recently acquired from Placebase and Siri. Tie this up with Facetime for its low-bandwidth video transmission capabilities, the fabulous version of iMovie you can get for your new iPad for $4.99 and the new video cameras and you can imagine social elements, for example:

  • Guides to areas by your friends
  • Augmented reality Apps which help you find what you're looking for
  • Secret messages you can only unlock when standing on a particular spot -- great for techno -Treasure hunts.

This also hints at some of the more interesting social possibilities we might see in the future iPhone 5.

-- Ditchin' the desktop

The latest survey results (published today) from content agency, Seven, tells us that use of desktop computers is 35 percent down for iPad owners since they bought their device. Laptop use is down 39 percent.

These are just some of the findings from Seven's 'Generation i' survey. Conducted by YouGov, chosen by Seven for their recognized authority on iPad research, the survey reached a total of 1,007 UK iPad owners, making it one of the first detailed surveys of UK iPad owners' content usage.

Some data points (from the survey):

  • 87 percent  of owners using their iPad every day of the week, 26% for half an hour to an hour per day, 32% for 1-2 hours per day, and 24% for more than 2 hours a day.

Stats, stats, stats

  • Accessing the Web -- 75 percent
  • Email -- 63 percent
  • Social Networking -- 41 percent
  • Researching products and services -- 29 percent
  • Listening to Music -- 21 percent
  • Shopping -- 19 percent
  • Reading magazines -- 13 percent
  • Work -- 13 percent
  • Watching TV -- 11 percent

Kevin Sutherland, Director of Strategy at Seven said the survey, "Demonstrates that consumers of all ages are using iPad over other devices to consume media and engage with content in totally new ways. It's a lean-back medium that consumers use to access content when relaxing -- especially content from their favourite brands -- but they are using it for classic lean-forward activities like shopping too."

Of course, total immersion inside your digital devices isn't always good for you. You cease to be aware of what is going on around you. Pedestrians get knocked over, people get attacked. There's risks. If only there were a solution which would let you enjoy what you wanted to listen to, or games you wanted to play, while also allowing you to hear the world around you. Good news, there is, an App called Awareness:

Awareness feeds the sounds of the outside world into your music or other audio. It means you can listen to music while retaining some awareness of what's taking place around you. Test it for yourself -- it is available for free until 11am UK time tomorrow. Go get it (US free download link).

What else will you be doing with your iPad 2 when you get it? Will you be using it to make movies, games, books? Let me know in comments below. I'd also be most happy if you began following me on Twitter so I can let you know just as soon as I post new reports here first on Computerworld.

[Above: Many hate to see a perfectly good iPad 2 go to waste. I can imagine there's plenty of competing manufacturers who feel pretty good about this clip, however.]

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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