… Last year Apple didn’t yet understand the iPad. They knew it was good. They knew it had potential. But they didn’t know what it was. They had a sense that in the conceptual space between an iPhone and a MacBook there was uncharted, fertile territory. And they set for themselves a wise metric: the iPad would only succeed if it could do some of the same things a Mac can do, but do them better. If it wasn’t better in several important ways for several common tasks, it would not succeed.
What they didn’t know last year was how people would use it, for real. They know now.
Last year’s flagship app demos were the iWork suite: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. The message was: the iPad is like a PC, just different — word processors and spreadsheets have been the standard answer to “Why would you buy this computer?” going all the way back to Visicalc in the early ’80s.
This year, Jobs stated explicitly and repeatedly that the iPad is not a PC. Jobs’s repeated categorization for the iPad: post-PC device. And the demos this year were of a slightly different tone. iWork is, well, work. Making movies and music, though? That’s play.
iMovie for iPad seems like the realization of Randy Ubillos’s vision for movie editing software. Seldom does an app as popular and useful as iMovie get a genuine “let’s just start over from scratch” redesign like iMovie did on the Mac several years ago. And the current Mac version is, without question, a major improvement over the initial redesigned version. This iPad version, though, feels like the real deal, and makes the Mac version seem like the imitator. The concept, visual layout, and intended workflow are naturally suited to touch. This is what the new iMovie is supposed to be.
And GarageBand for iPad — impressive doesn’t even begin to describe it. There are a bunch of musical instrument apps for the iPhone and iPad, and they’ve been used to great effect by many musicians. (Insert your own smirking mockery of those who insist the iPad is only for consumption and not creation here.) GarageBand for iPad is of a different scope. This is Apple taking the idea of the iPad as a musical instrument and tackling that idea with the full strength of its collective creativity. It is the most iPad-ish iPad app I’ve ever seen. Good iPad apps can make the iPad feel not like a device running an app, but like an object that is the app. GarageBand isn’t a musical app running on an iPad. It turns an iPad into a musical instrument. ...
Last year, Apple’s take on the iPad seemed to be that they believed they had something good. This year, they seem to know they have something enormous. Presumably, there’s an A5-based dual core iPhone 5 coming in June and a corresponding new iPod Touch and who knows what else coming in September, but Apple is already, a mere two months into it, calling 2011 “The Year of the iPad 2”. Apple sells every new product hard, but they’re not prone to that sort of hyperbole. ...
There are things any competitor could copy, easily, but seemingly don’t even understand that they should, because such things aren’t technical. Take the chair. The on-stage demos of the iPad aren’t conducted at a table or a lectern. They’re conducted sitting in an armchair. That conveys something about the feel of the iPad before its screen is even turned on. Comfortable, emotional, simple, elegant. How it feels is the entirety of the iPad’s appeal.
It’s a shame, almost, that we squandered the term “personal computer” 30 years ago.
That's a great line.
And if you haven't already, please see this video of the iPad in action.