Apple Talk: Why the iPad is no fad

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

...this third category of computing device at the keynote and in commentary afterwards. My first impressions of the iPad were that it wasn't a big iPod touch or a netbook without a keyboard or any of the other things it was compared to. It was something else, which we'll call, for the sheer alliterative hell of it, a 'couch computer' or even a 'lounge lozenge'.

The new geography of personal computing is breaking ties with the desktop and with the office and even with power sockets. It is divorcing the use of technology from technology itself, from USB ports and even from things as fundamental as memory.

Ten years ago, the megahertz wars raged and numbers and incremental performance gains dominated PC marketing. Not anymore - and three cheers for that.

Domestic tech support
I have, as I suspect many other readers have, acted as the tech support for PC, Mac, phone and insert-your-gadget-of-choice for my immediate family - a thankless and Sisyphean task.

When something inevitably goes wrong with a computer, and it usually is a PC or Mac, the subject is raised with a palpable sense of dread from both sides. The computer I recommended six months ago has deleted a Word document - minimised document window not noticed. Or it won't print - printer not turned on or connected. Or, best of all, the Mac had a tennis ball on the screen - default image in a mail message from another Mac user. There's a sense of detachment from the device.

The response is all very different with the iPad. There's a genuine interest. For example, both my mother-in-law and more incredible still, my mother, actually got excited when the iPad was switched on and demonstrated.

They noticed the screen, the hands-on interface, the lack of buttons, the lack of peripherals, and how unfettered the iPad is by ports. They noticed the smooth and simple exterior, blessedly devoid of wires and mysterious blinking LEDs. For the very first time they were interested in a computer.

In my experience, the iPad captures the imagination of people who had previously viewed computers in a similar way to how medieval people viewed witchcraft.

Apple's ground-breaking change
This is a seismic shift, a sudden lurching of a tectonic plate a few feet to the right. It is not about the technology, the desktop or the office. It is about the user.

Microsoft and its hardware partners launched the tablet PC in November 2002. It's taken eight years for another company to turn it into the computer with a compelling commercial and consumer proposition. A company that is diametrically opposed in its ideology for what the user wants.

Apple claimed many years ago to have set out to make a computer for the rest of us. It may have finally arrived. Apple has started to make computers for people who hate and fear computers.

So in answer to the original question: "Yes, I still use it. It's great."

And for the record - this article? Made on an iPad.