There have been no shortage of jokes and sniggers about the "iPad" since it was announced, and it's getting more and more difficult to tell reality from a Saturday Night Live skit. Just the other day my non-technical wife asked me, in all sincerity, if "iPeriod" was a real Apple product (no, honey, just someone making a "joke" ... but there is an app for that.)
Apple isn't helping matters either. In the press release regarding the iPad's imminent arrival, Steve Jobs is quoted as saying the "iPad connects users with their apps and content in a far more intimate and fun way than ever before" and "[w]e can't wait for users to get their hands and fingers on it this weekend" in reference to the iPad's "revolutionary Multi-Touch™."
Really, Steve? Really?
The only people I expect to be this excited to get their "hands and fingers busy" over the weekend are teenagers who have just started dating.
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Apple announced they will "host special iPad workshops" beginning this weekend. Hopefully at least one of them will address the issue of "safe and appropriate" touching; although, I'm not sure any of us are ready to watch Steve give a Keynote presentation on "Good Touching vs. Bad Touching." If he brings Phil Schiller out on stage for a demonstration, I'm leaving.
Jony Ive, talking about the iPad, said: "There's no right or wrong orientation... I don't have to change myself to fit [the iPad]. It fits me." Rumors are that Apple initially had plans to brand the 64GB iPad under the code name "Magnum."
(Disclaimer: ok, I admit I made that rumor up, but it could have happened! Maybe.)
I'm not even going to mention that Apple talks about "spearheading" the digital media revolution.
Look, Apple, we're excited about the iPad too. Many members of the TUAW staff ordered them as soon as possible. I plan to get one too. Eventually. But your press release uses the word "magical" (twice in three breathlessly gushy paragraphs), as does the the iPad video. I have expected the video to end with Phil grabbing an iPad off the table and saying "I'll be in my bunk."
All kidding aside, what bothers me most about this is that it's not "magical" -- it's the end result of a lot of science and art, engineering and production.
I have no marketing degree or experience, but talking about the iPad in such odd terms only gives fuel to those who want to dismiss Apple's creations as hype and "reality distortion" when they're making the most innovative products out there. They didn't make the first portable music player, but they made what is widely considered to be the best one. They didn't make the first cell phone, but they made what is widely considered to be the best one. When every other computer company is making cookie-cutter netbooks which really aren't better at doing anything than a regular laptop, Apple creates the iPad.
Apple is blowing the doors off of the competition. The iPhone seemed to have been the straw that broke the camel's back when it comes to Palm. The iPad already has Amazon nervous about their budding Kindle business, and I'll be curious to see if Google's Chrome OS and netbooks find a market now that Apple has entered into the "lower-end" of that pool. Sure there will be people who still only want to spend $300 on a netbook or that $400 laptop from the Sunday paper that will need to be replaced in 18 months.
I just wish Apple's marketing materials would focus more on facts, and less on "magic."