A few weeks ago we posted a two-part preview on Apple’s latest device, the iPad, and (perhaps more importantly) how such a device will move the computing world towards portable devices and ‘cloud computing.’ Well, the day has arrived, and the iPad is on the launching pad. Stores will be presenting it Saturday, so get in line early.
The MKCREATIVE team have not had the honor of receiving a prototype (although we will be testing it at our local Apple store in Towson, Maryland on launch day), and we will make no claims about the device beyond what the reviewers have to say. Our two go-to reviewers are David Pogue at The New York Times, and Walt Mossberg at The Wall Street Journal, but other professional tech reviewers have weighed in with their own experiences. But one reviewer whose more – shall we say “humanist”? – approach might provide a key to how the nonprofit community should embrace this technology.
Stephen Fry has been involved in British theater and TV for some time. His devotion has been to Wilde and to novel writing. He currently appears as the Cheshire Cat in Tim Burton’s remake of “Alice in Wonderland.” Clearly he has the background that would allow him to discuss the A4 chipset or the robustness of the G3 antenna on some iPad models. If not, he might be the ideal user of the latest Apple technology to introduce it to the rest of us. His article in Time Magazine tells us more about the iconic CEO of Apple, Inc. (Fry admits to being more nervous meeting Steve Jobs than he was the Queen) and the accessibility of the iPad as it does about the iPad itself. This particular exchange comes late in the article, and clearly touched the actor:
I remind Jobs that at the product launch of the iPad in January, he had stood in front of two street signs, one reading “Liberal Arts,” the other “Technology.” “This is where I have always seen Apple,” he told the audience, “at the intersection of the Liberal Arts and Technology.”
I suggest there’s a bit more to it than that; surely Apple stands at the intersection of liberal arts, technology and commerce? “Sure, what we do has to make commercial sense,” Jobs concedes, “but it’s never the starting point. We start with the product and the user experience. You seen an iBook yet?” His pleasure in showing me the Winnie the Pooh iBook bundled with every iPad is unaffected and engaging.
Fry’s experience at 1 Infinite Loop (Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, California) and with the iPad demonstrate how much of a game-changer the product might be, because Fry expected the polished quality and the clear design. Yet he underestimated the accessibility and ‘warmth’ (my word) of the experience. Here is an excerpt from his interview with lead designer, Jonathan Ive, about the iPad:
I put to designer Ive the matter of all the features that are missing from the iPad. “In many ways, it’s the things that are not there that we are most proud of,” he tells me. “For us, it is all about refining and refining until it seems like there’s nothing between the user and the content they are interacting with.”
That’s not what he’s supposed to say. Tech journalists are obsessed with spec lists and functions. They often look at devices as the sum of their features. But that kind of thinking isn’t in Apple’s DNA. The iPad does perform tasks — it runs apps and has the calendar, e-mail, Web browsing, office productivity, audio, video and gaming capabilities you would expect of any such device — yet I discovered that one doesn’t relate to it as a “tool”; the experience is closer to one’s relationship with a person or an animal.
Hyperbolic? Perhaps. But Mossberg perceives the device as pretty more sanguine in terms of producing content, but lauds its abilities to present and share and experience content. All agree that the iPad (and its subsequent competitors) will draw in millions of people who had not really considered ‘mobile computing.’ That move to mobile computing, as we reported previously on the iPad, will further our engagement with the ‘cloud’ of information that we now perceive as the internet. Social media, engagingly designed and interactive websites, well crafted and targeted videos, extended written analyses, annual reports, and calls to action will all require reconsideration and strategic planning as we all get ever more comfortable with the technologies. Mr. Fry introduces us to just how easy that introduction will be.. Pogue is