Bob Sutton's blog Work Matters offers a few observations on the iPad. He is not impressed, but acknowledges that CEOs -as a group- seem to love them. And what that boils down to is the long battery life and the big screen to do email and web browse. He concludes that these people spend a lot of time in meetings (wanting to get on with other things) and on planes wanting to work. The iPad fits the bill. He, on the other hand, has minimal use for an iPad apart form the occasional web browse, or newspaper read, and his iPad sits unloved by his bed side for most of the time.
If I want to put my finger on what is going on here and why I love my iPad to bits, I think that the answer is one word: Apps. An iPad sans Apps is a email, web browse okay machine. Add the Apps, and you transform it into a living, breathing add-on to your life whatever that may be.
An example please! If Bob had downloaded iBrainstorm (for free), he could have taken his iPad to one of his 'Good Boss, Bad Boss' workshops and logged on all the other iPads in the room (75% of participants by his reckoning) and shared some great brain storm ideas. As he spoke, any ideas from anywhere in the room could have been captured for everyone, that would have suggested more ideas and suddenly Bob has a communication riot on his hands rather than an orderly procession.
My beloved Pages word processing app is brilliant for capturing the moment, and then emailing it to my self to be improved or filed somewhere else. Clicky Sticky stickers App has kept countless children amused whilst the adults can talk or do what they do. And it is more creative than plonking the child in front of the TV. Plus the kid can be where you are, not in the next room getting up to no good.
I now plan anything I am going to write on 'Notes' and that sits next to my laptop when I actually begin to write. I don't have to keep flipping screens on the laptop or trying to decipher appallingly scribbled notes from my notebook. And flicking through the daily amazing photo from Guardian 'Eyewitness' App is interesting and a comment on the world. I could go on and on but each App adds a little piece more of value to my iPad and many of the best ones are suggestions from other iPad users. If my iPad stayed by my bedside I would never have the conversations and the insights to move on.
Can we blame Apple for the confusions of the App store? Not sure. It could be better and if 'genius' worked in the same way as it does for music, I could be fed new suggestions. The chances, however, of stumbling on something totally new, on my own from the App store are remote. And that has to be a limitation on that critical first mover opportunity.
So here are some suggestions Apple:
Have a pre-organised bundle of maybe ten to fifteen Apps for kids, or games or travel or business productivity and let the user download all fifteen for free. After a week the user has to confirm a purchase or the Apps will remove themselves. So you can test out and then bail out.
Secondly allow users to assemble 'playlists' of favourite Apps and others can see them, test them and decide whether to buy them.
Offer users the opportunity to sign up to App of the day. Could be themed, ie travel App, or kids App etc. If they kept them to reasonably priced Apps it could be a low risk decision to try it out and see what the fuss is all about.
Finally publish a few case studies of real users and what their most useful Apps are with links to down load them.
So a bit more proactivity on Apple's part could transform the usage of the many people who have splashed out and can't quite see what all the fuss is about.