Apple Talk: Why the iPad is no fad

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

...just a notebook. However, you can't rip the lower part of a notebook off and use the top half to browse the web while sitting on the sofa and not worry about charging it again until the weekend.

Doing useful, productive stuff aside, the iPad is a ridiculous amount of fun to use. It's the device of choice for looking at media and the web while lounging around on the sofa.

This leads us on to the marketing. Not for the first time, Apple's advertising tells you all you need to know about the product.

Forget the smug 20-somethings battling bespectacled dweebs with spreadsheets. The Get a Mac ads were successful and funny but always left me cold - and cheering the PC guy. For a dyed-in-the-wool Mac user, it was a worrying reaction.

Democratisation of media and information access
I believe this is a moment of significant cultural shift in how we use technology. Devices such as the iPad and the Kindle are reaching out, democratising access to media and information. They are devices for the people who want to use a computer but find the prospect of actually using a computer frankly terrifying. There are a lot of them.

Who are they? I think they're the same people that I alluded to in a previous column: the people who would like to be interested in computing but who have no truck with its traditional paraphernalia.

A key element of Apple's iPad marketing focuses on the geography - specifically, the geography of the home and the role of the computer within it.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates used to eulogise: "We started with a vision of a computer on every desk and in every home." He had some success with that.

More recently the shift has been to consumer technology. In a month when Apple dropped its Xserve server range, it's another symbolic shift away from the enterprise and from work.

At home in the living room
The iPad is very clearly a living room computer. Look at the advertising - it all involves sitting down. The signboards have the iPad in the foreground and a pair of crossed legs in the background - often wearing sensible shoes.

Props are rare in Apple keynotes but Steve Jobs added a large leather armchair to the stage when he unveiled the iPad and sat in it while demoing the device.

A lot was said about...