Oh sure, Apple wants you to write, design and create software and products for the Mac, but you are not the target audience for the iPad. I've read so much negative backlash about Apple's latest device and all I can think is, "These guys just don't get it."
As software developers, we thrive on complexity. We have dozens of applications lit up in our Docks. As I'm writing this, I have 20 applications running, each with one or more windows open in four virtual workspaces using Spaces.
I'm a geek. I love this stuff. I even know all the keyboard shortcuts for switching apps and spaces and windows. I am a software developer with an engineer's brain. I am not the person Apple was thinking about when they built the iPad.
So who did they build it for?
The rest of them.
Have you ever watched someone who is not a geek use a computer? I have. My father-in-law lives with us and I'm his support tech, so I get an up close and personal view of the anti-geek at work. Here's a typical session for him:
- He clicks on Mail to look at his email;
- He reads a few emails and closes the window with the red dot in the upper left corner;
- Then he clicks on Safari and looks at some websites in one window;
- when he's done, he closes that window with a click in the upper left corner.
He doesn't quit any application. As many times as I've told him that he can simply hold down the Command key and press 'Q' to quit, he clicks the red dot. He doesn't try to multitask, he doesn't understand overlapping windows, and he gets very confused when he moves a window by accident and it doesn't show up well on his screen.
When I showed him the video of the iPad though, he said, "I'd love one of those. It looks so much easier for me to use. My sister could even use one of those."
For my father-in-law and millions of other people, clicking to run an application on the iPad, pressing the Home button to leave it so another application can be run is perfect. Millions of people spend all their time focused on one app. They read email, or browse the web, or live in Facebook, and the iPad gives them exactly what they need to do those tasks. The fast new Apple A4 chip inside makes changing from one task to another quick enough that there is no need for multitasking—especially with people whose eyes glaze over when you start explaining the concept behind running multiple applications.
The fact is: Real people don't try to multitask, so they don't see the iPad lacking this ability.
Personally, I love the idea of the iPad because I do all my RSS feed reading on my iPhone. When I take a break from writing software and working on my computer, I find a comfy place to sit and read on my iPhone. If I can grab my iPad instead, I'll save eyestrain and my iPhone battery while improving my casual time. For me, it's a no-brainer. I want one.
Is the iPad perfect? Nope. I think it needs front-facing video at least, but I do agree with John Brownlee that Apple probably left this out because it would make you look fat. This is the first generation of a new type of computing—the computer for the rest of them. Expect amazing growth in this space over the next couple of years.