There are two types of iPad owners in this world: Those that use it, and those that don’t.
Half the people that read this article will have no idea what I’m talking about. The other half will know exactly what I’m talking about.
I’ve always owned an iPad. I can even remember lining up at the Apple Store at the Falls Mall in Miami, eager to be one of the first few to own the iPad 2. I’d click the smart cover on and off all day, and take silly pictures in the photo booth. But after a few weeks, I’d begin to lose interest, and it would quietly start to collect dust in the corner of my room.
Sadly, the cycle has continued ever since. The iPad Air had the best processor, and would triple my productivity! The Apple Pencil would convert me into a note-taking machine! Yet when the college classes ended and the new device shine began to fade, every single one of these tablets found their way into that same dusty corner; destined to be handed down or recycled.
That is, until recently.
In early March I, like most of the world, suddenly found myself confined to the walls of my home. My living room became my office, and my dining room my conference room. I began to treat the phrase “work from home” like every other buzzword before it, and with every Medium article I read my eyes rolled just a little bit further into the back of my head.
However, something interesting began to happen. In my endless amount of downtime, I found myself picking up the dust-collector and actually using it.
At first, it was a gimmick. I started with checking my email occasionally. I found the reading experience to be immersive and distraction free. Enthralled by my old-new device, I began to download more work-related apps, like Citrix and Zoom, and found that the experience was not all that bad.
And that’s when it hit me.
For me, the iPad hadn’t sucked because of what it couldn’t do. It sucked because I had bought into Apple’s piss-poor marketing of what I thought the device really could do.
Let me explain. I don’t like carrying bags. At the risk of overusing the saying: I’d lose my head if I was it wasn’t attached. The iPad has always been a clunky piece of tech that I’d never want to bring with me. If I was going to sojourn out to do some work at a coffee shop or library, I’d bring my laptop. A full operating system still doesn’t compare to iOS. If I could do something mobile, why wouldn’t I use my iPhone? It sits in my pocket faithfully, and travels with me, everywhere I go.
Yet now, as I sit in my house, it’s dawned on me. I have no need for the convenience of carry that my iPhone offers. Why not take advantage of the pencil, larger screen real estate, and immersive tablet experience that the iPad offers? There’s literally no downside.
So why did it take me so long to come to this stunningly obvious conclusion? Marketing.
Take a look at the latest iPad Pro video. Really, if you haven’t seen it, you should.
Now that you’ve watched it, I’d like to pose a question: What did they actually DO in that commercial?
It’s easy to get distracted by fast cuts, cinematic music, and rendered full-body shots. But putting blinders to those leaves us with some really basic tasks. Specifically look at [0:50]. Apple has even found a way to glorify checking your calendar.
I have to hand it to Apple’s team of marketing wizards. A video like that still sparks excitement in my inner being; it takes willpower not to hit “Buy Now”. But I think this type of advertisement does more harm than good to the iPad. Subtle comparisons to laptops and desktops mixed among a throng of Spielberg-like transitions will leave you craving the product, and immediately disliking it once you’ve got it.
The iPad, despite its convenience and power, still isn’t a computer. And, for the portion of the workforce who truly don’t need all the operations of a computer, that might just be ok. And maybe someday, in the future, it will check every box that I (or other engineers) would need for it to truly be useful to us.
But until then, I’ll just keep browsing my email on a screen that is conveniently larger than my phone.