Apple Talk: Why the iPad is no fad

Apple's tablet is attracting people who hate computers...

After months of using an iPad, Seb Janacek is convinced that Apple's tablet is leading a cultural shift in how we use technology.

As an Apple iPad early adopter and owner, I am frequently asked by people with furrowed brows: "Do you still use it?"

I get asked that a lot.

The question is simple enough but the tone is interesting. It seems to imply that I've been dabbling with some strange proclivity or have joined a cult.

The cult idea is closer to the truth but still wide of the mark.

Yes, I am an iPad user. Twelve months ago I largely rejected the idea of a tablet computer from Apple. My argument was that the form factor had never taken off and wasn't conducive to a compelling user experience.

Twelve months later and the iPad has become a rather big deal. Sales are booming and it is undeniably kicking off a new model in personal computing. This success is down to two things, I think.

Apple's take on how people use computers
The first is how Apple turned the tablet concept on its head, learned the lessons from the iPhone, rethought the user interface and how people want to use computers. The second is the way it has been marketing the iPad and, more importantly, where.

Apple's Steve Jobs at the iPad launch

At January's iPad launch, Apple CEO Steve Jobs sat in an armchair to play up the iPad's domestic qualities
(Photo credit: James Martin/CNET)

The early success of the iPad is the result of the successful alchemy between technology and marketing.

First and foremost, the iPad is not a replacement for a Mac, although it can do a decent job of standing in for a while. It's been described as solely a device for consumption. It's an unfair description: it just happens to be very good at letting you consume media and information.

A recent problem with my iMac's power distribution system confined it to a local Apple reseller's repair room for a week. Incidentally, that's the first hardware problem I've experienced with Apple kit in the 13 years since I first owned a Mac.

My wife tends to monopolise the MacBook Pro, so the iPad was my primary computer for a week. In that week I wrote over 2,000 words on the soft keyboard, including a 600-word column typed in the car. Not while driving, I might add.

iPad's portability and battery life
The soft keyboard won't suit everyone, as one reporter found in her own report. Certainly, it isn't a workhorse but the portability, range of productivity apps and fantastic battery life make it very convenient for light work.

Inspired by the week of productivity - as opposed to just mucking about with apps, movies, photos and the web, I bought a wireless keyboard, and was pleased to find that the £59 outlay was just about justifiable.

Some may say an iPad with a keyboard is...