By January 28, 2010 5 Comments Read More →

Function follows form

Somehow, I’ve managed to avoid a lot of the discussion about the iPad — no easy feat considering Apple’s newest piece of technology has been the focus of a lot of buzz over the last 24 hours (er… several months).

With the exception of hearing that some people can’t get their hands on an iPad quickly enough and that others can’t believe Apple would release a glorified iPhone/eReader, I’ve dodged all of the details about the device. So, what I’m about to share is based almost exclusively on the demonstation of the iPad during yesterday’s product announcement which I watched earlier today.

Like many Apple products, the iPad is a groundbreaking new form with the potential for incredible function. At the moment it’s somewhere between a MacBook and an iPhone, offering some of the greatest advantages of mobile convergence (save the phone) and desktop productivity, with the added bonus of having an eBook reader built in. This means the iPad isn’t going to compete with eReaders like the Kindle and its brethren based on the iPad’s limited battery life (10 hours), but a brand new technology that will likely displace the eReader because it does so much more as both an entertainment centre and business tool in a single device.

That’s right. The iPad is supposed to make you leave your laptop and Kindle at home. If it had a phone capabilities, you could leave your cell behind also.

The iPad is first generation, though. And that means Apple put it on the market to make waves and set the stage for something bigger and better. That’s to say, future releases of the OS will make the iPad a Blue Ocean of mobile computing. Imagine – and I’m speculating here – a stylus that turns the iPad into ePaper. You could take notes, doodle, draw, sketch and design, and have the ability to dog ear and scrawl notes in the margins of your eBook. Uh, oh! There’s the real threat to commercial paper AND eReaders.In fact, the iPad could also become a threat to the Livescribe pen if Apple unifies a stylus and audio recording capabilities.

Remember when I said I wouldn’t buy an iPod? Now I don’t even own a PC. Yeah… I’ll probably get an iPad. Just, maybe not until OS or hardware 2.0.


About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.
  • Charles

    It's going to need multitasking, Flash and maybe even a webcam before it's going to be a serious mobile device. I agree with you Mark, this device is just to make a splash, the real mobile device will be released in the future maybe with version 2 or 3. Nice article. :)

  • Mark

    While I agree that multitasking will be beneficial, I feel Apple needs to make the move into ePaper first if they wish to create something truly remarkable.

    The camera/webcam and Adobe Flash features are also very important. However, I'm reminded of Apple's delay in putting “expected” functionality like copy/cut/paste on the iPhone and iPod Touch and I think that Apple probably isn't in any big rush to put the staples on the iPad ahead of new features and establishing solid vehicles for recurring revenue.

  • Mark

    This is exactly where Apple shines. They release the form with a few “groundbreaking” features, which makes the expected the unexpected. This of course means we can all fantasize about the cool new stuff we'd like to see in the unit which will surely come.

    In this way, Apple appeals to the early adopters and then has something extremely appealing to drive a new pitch in the curve.

  • pencaster

    Hi Mark,
    The iPad can never be a serious thread for the Livescribe Smartpen because of its size. It is much easier and convenient to carry around the smartpen and a pocket notebook (or just the pen, if you only need voice recording)


  • Mark

    As much as I have an unhealthy dependency on my Livescribe, and for all of the Livescribe pens my friends have bought on my recommendation (24 at last count), I have to be honest with myself and acknowledge that if the iPad allowed me to carry one device to manage my email, surf the web, stay connected on my various social networks, use a productivity suite to get work done, do creative multimedia projects, listen to music, watch movies, play games, read books and have electronic paper that captured my handwriting and drawings and even did OCR and recorded synced-to-text audio (like the Livescribe pen even if the mic is in the iPad and not the stylus), I'd probably find it very easy to leave my Livescribe pen at home with my laptop, iPod, iPhone and eReader (note that I don't own an eReader).