I hate the iPad! I love the iPad!
I object to Apple’s sometimes farcical behavior when it comes to App Store policies, rejections, exceptions, etc. But my feelings are extremely mixed. I love the hell out of my iPhone, and I pre-ordered an iPad at 8:30 AM on Friday. I believe Apple has a morsel of magical quicksilver in its palm. As with the iPhone, I’m coming along for the ride, whether or not I like the way they are driving.
The iPhone and iPad are compelling enough, so why haven’t I released any significant apps yet? I still have several apps under development, but none of them is ready for mass consumption. Mainly because my Mac software takes priority for my attention, but also because I want to make sure I understand how software on touch devices should work before I tackle the problem.
I attended Apple’s iPhone Developer Tech Talk in New York in December. During the reception, I had the privilege of speaking briefly with Apple’s UI design rock-star evangelist, John Geleynse. I got to talking with him about the iPhone and its significance in the world:
“I’ve lost 20 pounds in the last 4 months,” I blurted out. “I don’t think I could have done it without the iPhone.”
I had downloaded an app called Lose It, and thanks to the ubiquity of the iPhone, I was able to use this simple calorie-counting aid to change my eating habits for several months. I was eager to share how this little app had changed my life. I struggled to make my point:
“The iPhone has changed everything. Surfers love waves, right? And they want to surf everywhere. But if you’re a surfer and you want to surf in Antarctica, you’re screwed. But if you had the right wetsuit, you could surf anywhere. You could surf in Antarctica!”
Mr. Geleynse indulged the metaphor, but seemed to be waiting for the punch line.
“So, I lost all this weight, and it wouldn’t have happened without the iPhone. Before the iPhone and before this app, losing weight to me was like surfing in Antarctica: I had no equipment, and no chance of survival. The iPhone gave me the equipment not only to survive, but to know that survival was possible.”
This is what Apple does well. While the rest of the world iterates on existing solutions to known problems, Apple discovers and solves problems we didn’t even know we had. I didn’t realize that the lack of a ubiquitous, hand-held computer was limiting my abilities. I didn’t know what had been impossible would become possible.
Skeptics of Apple’s innovation tend to be stuck in that mode of thinking which judges solutions only in terms of known problems. Imagine the poor inventor of the scuba suit, who upon first showing his contraption to peers, may have been met with flat rejection: “It doesn’t look very comfortable.” True, the scuba makes for terrible evening wear … unless you’re throwing a party at the bottom of the ocean!
If you’re not looking beyond the horizon, if you don’t care to expand the reach of civilization, or to solve impossible problems, then you don’t need a scuba suit.
If you are looking for adventure, suit up. Antarctica on a surfboard? April 3.