Is the iPad like a Wonderbra?
I’ve gone and done it. I succumbed to the hype and bought an iPad.
I know I have spent weeks telling anyone that cared to listen that I couldn’t see the purpose of the iPad. It solves no need. “It does nothing that I can’t do with another device I already have”. Then again, Apple seems focused on creating products of desire and aspiration, not on technology that solves specific needs. After several weeks of meetings with people who raved about their iPad, and after an evening in my local with an old buddy (who really should work for Apple as his sales pitch was so good), I went online. A few clicks later the order was placed.
When the iPad arrived, my son was very excited. “Cool, can I have a go?” He hit his first frustration when he tried to navigate to one of his favourite gaming sites, Friv.com. “Daddy, it doesn’t work. Daddy what’s going on?” I had to try and explain why the Flash-rich site was not supported by the iPad and thus wouldn’t work and tried to lessen his disappointment by suggesting he browse the apps store for a game he likes. “You have to pay for all these apps, Daddy,” he complained a few minutes later. Then, in the dutiful words of a young Googler: “I can’t wait till they produce an Android version of this”. That’s my boy!
On a serious note, I saw in my early iPad interactions a few lessons that we should all heed. Apple has sold around 4 million iPads to date. Judging by the people on my train to work every morning, the majority of these sales have gone to well-paid business executives. Does this sound like your target audience? These people are accessing the Internet, accessing your sites, from their iPads. And thus there are opportunities to be gained from the iPad. For example, you can now specifically target iPad users through your AdWords account. One client told me last week that through a campaign targeting iPads alone they received $11,000 of sales from an AdWords spend of just $15. So this form of targeting is very cost-effective. (Find out how to set up such a campaign here.)
But what happens if your site is Flash-heavy? The same thing that happened to my son when he tried to access his games site: empty boxes and error messages. If you haven’t thought about how to design your site for iPad users and those accessing via other mobile devices, it’s now something you now should consider.
And what do I think of the iPad? I’m glad to say I was right. It doesn’t do anything that I can’t do on another device. In fact, it does a lot less than some of them. The ‘walled garden’ approach to software is frustrating and restrictive. There is no denying that it is, in words of my son, “it looks really cool.” But is this enough? As someone else (not my son) recently said to me: “the iPad is like a WonderBra”. I’ll let you draw your own conclusion as to what was meant. . .