Do You Want Magic or Specs?


There is a lot of reaction to the iPad announcement and much of it is criticism. Fraser Spiers explains it as Futureshock. Much of the commentary is about how the iPad is not like other computers as if this is a bad thing. How would innovation occur if suppliers listened to sources like ZDNet (10 things netbooks do better) that insist that all the existing features of older technology must be provided in the old way. Ultimately it is not about technical specs. It comes down to meeting user needs and enabling productivity and creativity. What many analysts are missing when they complain about what can an iPad do that con’t be done on a laptop or even netbook is it is not all about WHAT. HOW is really important too and if something is even just a little bit easier and simpler it can lead not just to better productivity but in whole new uses by reducing barriers. Existing users can do more and new users start using new tools that are suddenly more appealing to them.

One way of thinking about it is to use the left brain/right brain paradigm. The left brain perspective compares the devices by the specs. Which device has more memory, hard drive space, processor speed, ports, etc? From a right brain wholistic perspective all the specs are irrelevant compared with what is really important – how does the device help me accomplish my purpose. How does the device make me feel, is it beautiful, how does it respond, what can I do with it, is it intuitive, can I accomplish my objectives without getting frustrated, does it distract me by making sweat a lot of details unrelated to my work or play?

One of the ways of explaining where there is magic is that something miraculous happens and you don’t have to understand how it was done. The technology is only there to make the magic not for its own sake. Sure not all the magic is there yet in the iPad since the platform has just been announced but where is the most potential for magic? What will best enable new ways of doing new things, netbooks or iPads?

Look at the advertising. Does the product emphasize specs or does it emphasize the experience, results, and use cases. Surely that is a clue on which is better value – what the product supports you to do.

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