A question I’ve heard a number of times recently is:

Finbarr.

What do you make of this new iPad coming out?

My answer is starting to get a little bit repetitive, but it’s becoming more and more consistent.

If I’m talking to a nerd or techie, I’ll always tell them they probably won’t be interested in the iPad yet (with the exception of Apple fans) because they might be frustrated at some level that they might not be able to do all the things they want with it.

They will be limited when doing tasks such as:

– downloading movie files from the web (unless it comes via iTunes)

– playing movies they download from the web (as above)

– installing whatever app they want (only Apple approved app’s can be installed)

– accessing the underlying file system (not possible)

– do any type of videoconferencing (there’s no camera)

– playing Flash video (although more and more sites have moved to H.264 and HTML5 for video)

– other geeky stuff such as running UNIX commands like you can on Mac OS X (there’s no Terminal app)

However, if I’m speaking to a someone who works outside of computer industry and is a casual computer user (or is technophobic), my answer is this:

You might actually prefer to use the iPad over a regular computer because it makes it much easier for you to get certain things done.

A couple of years ago I remember trying to teach my dad how to use Microsoft Word to type up a document on the home PC. He had never used a computer before. It was so difficult to grasp even the concept of moving this little white thing called a mouse around the table, which in turn makes this tiny white pointer move around on screen.

There are so many things on the screen, what do I click? This is really confusing, I’ve forgotten what I came here to do in the first place!

Because the iPad is totally task-centric, doing things like this will be much much easier for new users. Because the mouse is now your finger, we’ve already been trained (since birth) on how to use that! Just touch the screen.

This is the market I believe that Apple will do best with: My Dad. Normal people and people new to computers. This is a huge market. Much larger than just us techies. There are a lot of potential users who might have never even used a computer. Yet.

I would guess that around 90% of users can do all they want to do using:

– Safari: (web browser) Facebook, Google, reading, social networking, news sites and general browsing

– EMail, I.M and V.O.I.P.

– Tasks catered for by specific apps available in the App Store

When it comes to online video, most  users don’t care what format it comes in, they just want to watch it. YouTube works perfectly in it’s own built in app.

In my opinion, I would even say that what Apple have done here will become the initial standard user-interaction model that other companies, such as Google and Microsoft, will be scrambling to imitate over the coming years, like they are doing already in the smartphone market. They have a lot of catching up to do. iPhone OS is evolving at a rapid pace.

Could this be the end of the mouse and the wildly over complicated interfaces that we’re all used to using every day at work?? Programmers and designers like myself need to get smart and start getting better at user interface design. We need to start simplifying tasks, without withdrawing power.

I think it could be the beginning of the end.

Some initial hands on reviews are coming in…

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