Well, first of all, there are a lot of reasons. But let’s just focus on a couple of them here.
We talk a lot about being communicators, storytellers. Part of the reason we place our focus there is that it’s a characterization that exists beyond the medium we use to communicate — a story is a story, an audience is an audience. We choose our delivery method from a broad palette of the most relevant media available to deliver that story, that message. As such, an important part of our job is keeping our eyes on the horizon — when a new delivery medium becomes available, we have to know what it means to us (as a communicative tool) and to the world-at-large (as an experiential tool).
Enter the iPad, a brand new game-changing device. Up until now, the “netbook” has filled an unusual market space: it’s a tool meant for the user that wants to carry a computer with them but primarily wants it for less processor-intensive tasks… web browsing, email, watching movies, etc. Computer manufacturers answered this need in the most simplistic way possible; they provided hobbled machines, built in smaller cases with smaller screens and lighter materials — like less-capable laptops. What Apple has done, is analyze the underlying needs of that user segment and create a device that caters exceptionally well to those needs. If i might make a fairly obvious prediction, this is going to be the next “must have” piece of mobile technology — it’s going to be the device to have if you’re a college student, a frequent traveller, a commuter, an artist, a reader, a movie fanatic… the list goes on and on. Only a month after it’s announcement, it’s relevance online in articles, searches, blog entries, etc., has proven the impact it’s already made, and it hasn’t even shipped yet.
One of the most exciting aspects of this device though, is what it means in the “printed page”/digital media arena. Last month’s New York Magazine commented that the iPad was looking to bring “old fashioned printed page graphic design into the digital era.” This is an exciting thing to watch. For years, designers have been frustrated by the limitations of designing for the web. In many ways, designing for print is far superior to designing for the web… we create a design that is confined to a target we choose, and once printed is “baked” that way. From that point forward, the experience is (hopefully) exactly what we intended for it to be. With the advent of web design, however, all of the limitations of the printed page were suddenly done away with –both the good and the bad — but along with that blank slate came the challenges of wrestling with variable page widths and lengths, different target resolutions, different color depths, different browser requirements, etc., etc. We would never again be sure that two experiences of the content created would ever be the same, and experience is critical.
All it takes is one look at the demonstration of how a book behaves on the iPad, and suddenly the possibilities become clear… all the welcome boundaries, physics and behaviors of a real printed page, but with the additional capability of including video, motion graphics, links, etc. A fixed display resolution, beautiful color depth and multi-touch interactivity. And most importantly, everyone that has one will see your content in exactly the same way. And that is a very powerful thing. A critical part of delivering a message is knowing that it will be seen as intended… the iPad provides us with a platform where we have that security. It is going to be the go-to device for college students, early adopters, alpha consumers, frequent travelers, readers, movie watchers, web browsers — and most importantly for us, people that are empowered to be brand champions.
I don’t know about you, but mine’s already on pre-order.