The Apple iPad Is For Old People

The guys at Ultimi Barbarorum came up with an idea—an idea we were tossing around after the event yesterday, and even talked about a little last night—and put it into words. The iPad is for old people.

Those that are dubious of the iPad's impending success (and I suspect that you are one of them, Baruch) are of course in danger or repeating history (qv iPod, iPhone). I have no intention of replicating all the arguments pro- and con the iPad, so I will limit myself to just one wholly original observation as to why I think the doubters once again are not getting it:

1. The iPhone was a success from the start, but it really became a ubiquitous device when it proved competent at a whole range of tasks beyond Apple's original marketing copy. (It was just "a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device," remember?) Now games rule on the iPhone, and as many parents will attest, the iPhone's one true calling is as breakthrough child pacification device.

A similar role awaits the iPad. No, not for children; rather, look to the burgeoning end of the demographic curve: baby boomers.

I know many baby boomers who are intimidated by computers. Plenty are not, but a great many spend far too much time wrestling with viruses and drivers, wondering what a DLL is, and generally not knowing the difference between their RAM and a hard disk - all just so they can read emails and check their bank account online. Some boomers have sired offspring who gladly help them with remote tech support sessions, but many others have not, and suffer for it. The reason for all this misery is simple: Computers are still too complex for those not prepared to give them their undivided attention. That's even the case for Macs.

Not so with the iPhone. I've seen that thing understood within minutes by 2 year-olds and 84 year-olds. It does one thing at a time. Your finger is the cursor. There is no need to tap things twice before stuff happens. You are allowed to turn it off with the power button.

But the iPhone isn't perfect for baby boomers. The screen and text are too small for aging eyes, the keyboard too cramped for confident typing, making it unusable for even basic office productivity tasks.

Enter the larger, faster iPad. It's a complex computer simplified, which makes it a perfect fit to those whose remaining life is too short to spend it defragging drives. Add the keyboard dock, and the iPad is versatile enough to be a baby boomer's only computer. The only thing it won't let them do is videoconference with their grandchildren - which is an omission I hope they fix in next year's version - but on the other hand, at $500 this much is forgiven.

My prediction: Within 2 years you will be reading articles describing how it was obvious - with hindsight - that the iPad would be a hit with aging baby boomers. But who needs hindsight when you have Ultimi Barbarorum?

Post syndicated with permission from Ultimi Barbarorum