I’ve shared plenty of jokes about the iPad — the netbook without a keyboard. I laughed when Apple announced it because to my mind a $300 netbook is a much better deal, and it has a keyboard. But I’m starting to think that I’m wrong; that people will buy it.
Many, many people still find personal computers mysterious. They have one but it’s full of malware, spyware, or worse, and it’s probably running some version of Windows. Maybe even Windows 98. Who knows. And often enough, these same people can’t even tell you which version of Windows they’re running because to them it’s all the same. Or they tell you that they’re running “Microsoft.” Yes, they’re running the Microsoft Corporation on their personal computer. Anyway.
Their computer sits off in a corner or in the kids’ room. They use it to check their webmail or to pay bills, but they don’t understand it and they only touch it because they have to. Perhaps they have a Facebook account and they like to sit there and stare at that, too. They do some shopping on Amazon or Zappos and they read the news. They check their stocks. They play games. When it breaks or runs slowly they buy a new one.
Really, for many people who own personal computers, their computer is a toaster. Just like their iPhone or other smartphone. Unlike a toaster, their computer can do unlimited things, but like the toaster (or better yet, their countertop oven) they use only a couple of its features because they have neither time nor inclination to dig deeper. Who wants to be an expert on their toaster?
Here comes the iPad. The pretty toaster that you can hold in your hands and that does pretty much everything that your computer does in a cute package. It will let you check your email, play videos, and most importantly, run iPhone apps. All of the scary stuff is hidden behind a cute interface and you just use it. For everyone who already has an iPhone (about 75 million people) this is simply a natural progression.
The iPad will sell because it’s a big, fat iPhone that’s going to make it a lot easier for the toaster set to use their computer. And that’s just about all there is to it.