Now, I’m not overly proud of this picture… it’s of the keyboard of our home computer, and it would appear to be a bit… errmm, dusty…
It’s probably very fair to say that since we moved in to our new place at the beginning of February, neither Helen nor I have been near the computer that sits in the spare room.
Indeed, I only noticed it because I had to go and print out some tickets to go to the Brighton Sealife Centre (print out!?! It’s 2010, codes & mobile ticketing, please…).
But it did get me thinking, about two things that are, quite possibly, on their way out.
Firstly, the ‘home PC’.…
Or at least, the description that will be familiar in many homes; a desktop computer that sits in a home office, or squeezed in the corner of the guest room, or wherever there’s room (or is close enough to a phone socket to plug a modem into)…
Like millions of other folks we’ve now got enough mobile/laptop shenanigans going on that to have a separate machine in a different, isolated part of the house is actually now just taking up space… desktops have been outsold by laptops consistently since 2006.
The desktop PC was designed not for convenience, of course, but for necessity. To get as much computing power in as possible (and make sure that you could power it, cool it down etc), you had to have a big bloody box sitting under a desk somewhere.
Nowadays, though, you can fit all the necessary power into a laptop that you can take wherever you wanted to be in the first place… which was unlikely to be the spare room.
Which means we’re seeing the rise of things like social television (which this article from the BBC will tell you all about if you’re unfamiliar with it).
Magical computery power is starting to change the dynamics of the home in lots of interesting ways, which will no doubt have more of an effect on the sectors people previously didn’t imagine t’internet would affect that much originally.
…the earliest is arguably the ‘Typowriter’ (patented in 1829 by William Austin Burt), but by far my favourite is Giuseppe Ravizza’s “Cembalo scrivano o macchina da scrivere a tasti”, which translates as “scribe harpsicord, or machine for writing with keys”
So approaching 200 years old is not bad going for a technology that by and large hasn’t really changed. People talk about touchscreen computers (iPad et al), and claim that they’re not great devices for ‘creation’, just ‘consumption’.
What they really mean is that they aren’t great for ‘creation of stuff I now use a keyboard for’.
My generation (I’m 32 now) were introduced to a keyboard as a route to playing, creating or working, but in ‘isolation’; what you played or did via keyboard you did on your own.
A generation underneath probably see the keyboard as a route to communication first (email, IM, social networks etc), then playing, working and creating together.
Whoever we are, we’re all still rooted in that keyboard tradition… so many of us have been trained to use it already, it’s going to be a hard habit for society to shift.
But a generation that grows up in a world of touchscreens…
…well, surely they’ll work out a way to get from this…
Just watching the wee fella with touchscreen devices is a joy… he’s only 7 months old, yet he gets the very simple concept that if you touch it, it does something.
He’s really, really surprised that ALL screens don’t work this way, of course. And tried to see if the fish tanks at Brighton Sealife centre reacted to frantic touch-motioning.
Which, admittedly, they did. Poor turtles.
Anyway, I reckon that keyboards might just be on their way out, but not for a good 10+ years or so.
Or are we confident that like the wheel, the basic keyboard model is here to stay forever?
Well, our superclever research team here at PHD (Clare, Chris & Carrie) have been working on a project to gauge the impact that this generation of devices (i-pad-tablet-slate things).
Here’s Clare to take you through what they’ve found so far…
Following on from this, I thought we’d add the view from the research
We recently did some work with people – not early adopters, not
geeks, just ordinary people who like gadgets that make like easier, or more
enjoyable – about how they use mobile devices (netbooks, smartphones etc) in
our qualitative facility, The Living Room.
The ulterior motive was to get
them thinking about mobile media use and then get them to consider how they
might feel about and potentially use iPads in the future.
The results were
fascinating. We found massive enthusiasm appetite for mobile TV.
While few had watched much TV on their iPhones to date, when asked to try it
out for a couple of weeks they came back full of enthusiasm and thought the
iPad’s combination of screen size and simplicity of use would offer an even
better way to watch mobile TV and video content. <o:p></o:p>
The possibilities for combining
viewing with interactions through social networks also appealed to some, with
the chance to watch and discuss things together while apart, or pass on
recommendations all from the same device you’re watching on.
They also thought it could
easily be an option to replace second and third household TV sets, and could
even replace some main set viewing – especially
where people have limited multichannel
access, which suggests potential for a “pay as you go” option for mobile tv.
Basically, they saw an
opportunity for telly, only more so. And better. And easier to
share. Whats not to like?
Mind you, the success of TV on
iPad will rely on Apple and other service providers marketing their mobile TV
apps clearly and effectively as awareness of existing services for smart phones
and computers was still pretty low (we had to show our groups some of the
possibilities to get their views).
I got my mitts on an iPad for the first time yesterday, thanks to David at The Guardian.
We worked with them and Canon on the Guardian Eyewitness app (now the SECOND MOST POPULAR free app for the iPad… FTW).
So we were understandably VERY eager to see the fruits of our labours.
(Apple, ‘fruits’? See, it’s a pun, geddit? Oh, never mind…)
Anyway, I took the opportunity to create a little video run through of some of the ‘media’ properties on it, just to get a first feel for what ‘worked’ on the iPad:
So, that was yesterday. My thoughts today?
All in all, whilst newspapers and magazines (and of course comics) can do some wonderful creative things with the iPad, having used it you realise what a great in between step between ‘lean back’ and ‘sit forward’ it is…
…which is perfect for just watching TV on.
Ben Malbon points out that the posters they’ve put up are like a giant user manual… “this is how you use it”.
Looks like a great way to watch content, yet still have access to everything the web offers at the flick of a finger.
And sure, as a device it has the potential to do untold amount of wonderful things, depending on the apps developed for it. And it may revolutionise many markets (news, games, work, healthcare…)
Yet given the amount of ‘watching’ people still do (television, films etc), and the quality and flexibility of the iPad for fulfilling that need, I believe that for mainstream take up it’s the viewing capabilities that will be key.
People LOVE watching TV, as we all know. This represents a different, flexible, personal way to do that, wherever you want. TV has a mass appeal that opens up the interest in the device to a wider audience than would be interested in more early-adopter tech (the iPhone, for instance).
Over the weekend, in passing I flicked through an article on PSFK talking about the relaunch of the Levi’s flagship store on Regent Street… “definitely worth a look” it said.
So when Sean and I found ourselves in the vicinity last night after a meeting, we thought we’d pop in for a look… and yes indeed, it definitely is worth a wander through.
From the gallery installation that welcomes you at the front door, the wonderful theatrical touches all the way through, to the basement ‘mine’ of denim, it’s not a shop, but an experience…
We both walked out with some new jeans, as you would.
Anyway, there’s two things of interest that I took from our little excursion.
Firstly, it’s the centrepiece of Levi’s attempts to rejuvenate themselves in the UK; in this Guardian article last week, European president Armin Broger neatly identified their problem:
“The presence of players like Uniqlo and Topshop is a fact, but it would be asinine to try to be them.”
Levi’s can’t afford to compete with the ‘fast-fashion’ houses when it comes to jeans, so they’re centring on a mix of heritage and craft to convince people of the value of the clothes they make.
But rather than just saying it in an advertising campaign, they’re committing to it in a space they own, and using that commitment to become the story that spreads.
The gallery installation which forms the front of the store (you won’t see any clothes at all until you’re inside) features young artists and musicians chosen (‘curated’ no doubt) by Levi’s. It’s not a temporary thing either, apparently; this space will permanently be reserved for artistic space by ‘craftworkers’.
And it’s not just for customers; the staff I talked to were all thrilled to be working there. One guy couldn’t believe it was the same shop when he walked back in after the refurb.
Now, it’ll be interesting to see how far this story, and the commitment, spreads… is it just a London thing? The store in Brighton looks the same as it did, largely. Is it enough to do something in the flagship store, then expect the whole UK business to turn around? We’ll have to wait and see I guess.
On to the second point…
In the changing room there was this delightful little touch…
It reminded me of a button I saw a few weeks ago in Homebase… same idea, but it failed to encourage the customer to press it with the excuses and limitations added by the staff in the store…
Clearly a top-down idea that the in-store management has decided is impractical, and tried to change. This is for ’tiling only’ now. So what if the tiling guy isn’t around? No-one answers? Nice one, Homebase chaps.
Anyway, we love a button, don’t we. There’s something very reassuring
in the modern age to see a button that says ‘get help now’.
Because we’re all used to have a button to press that finds us the thing we want, be it on a screen, wall or door.
Of course, with the advent of touchscreens, people have tried to replicate the physicality of ‘pressing buttons’ to give the same sense of satisfaction you get from clicks and physical displacement.
I used to own an LG Viewty touchscreen phone that had ‘haptic response’, which meant it buzzed back when you ‘pressed’ a button on the screen. It was useful, but only because the touchscreen was so rubbish you needed to know if it had registered your actions.
In the future though, kids growing up now won’t necessarily need that type of interface… they’ll be used to the fact that screens can be touched, and will react, to the simplest, natural gestures.
Have a watch of this video where a two and a half year old tackles an iPad for the first time…
Thanks, Foxtrot… ending the day with a suitably geeky joke 🙂
If you don’t get it, it’s about that fact that…
…oh come on, where’ve you been, the iPad doesn’t support Adobe Flash.
Seriously. Keep up…
Mind you, I don’t know if the iPad is going to be in the magazine/newspaper/comic saving business so much. Some things we’ve been looking into recently suggests that what Apple have created is actually a brilliant way to watch TV content & play games anywhere…
…from Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by location.
The location of not just people, but of things too (yes, like towels)…
…and of course of messages… the way people and things communicate with each other.
We’re living in a world where everything knows where it is (whatever it is, human or object) in relation to lots of other things.
So I thought it was worth expanding on why, including why it’s probably very important for marketing folks to be thinking about.
How things were
Some background; when I worked in the planning and insight function at Viacom Outdoor, location was very important for us. We were the guys charged with coming up with (occasionally) clever thoughts on why and how advertisers could use Underground & Bus advertising to target the right sorts of people.
We used to refer a lot to ‘recency theory’, as developed by a chap called Erwin Ephron in the US, which basically stated that the most important message you can deliver is the last before someone chooses to do something.
You can see why it would appeal as a theory to folk selling outdoor ad space… six years ago most transactions were still happening on the high street, and as a way to influence decisions posters were a pretty good bet.
Nowadays, of course, we’re no longer buying stuff exclusively on the High Street. In 2009, we spent nearly £50bn online (up 21% year of year). Total retail sales were £287bn, so just under 20p of every pound we spend is online. A fifth.
Which is enough, in combination with the recession, to make sad sights like this an everyday occurance… this is what you see if you visit the site of the former legendary shopping mecca that was the flagship Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street…
But still, there’s remains a fair chunk of money in people’s pockets to be had when they’re out and about, so the need for location targeting is still there, to guide people towards your front door…
…people aren’t alone when they’re out shopping any more. They’ve got their phone with them… and it’s not an ordinary phone anymore…
Of course, location based services in the shopping environment could simply drive
down prices, much as an insurance aggregation site does in that market (I talked about the notion of Perfect Competition earlier this year in this context).
The challenge for us in marketing is to create these things that continue to add value to the retail experience for people; it will be as much a part of the ‘brand experience’ as the store signage or the TV ad.
One day, there will be no excuse for anyone not knowing where their towel is. Or how much it costs, or which shop it’s in, or how long it will take to get there…..
So, if there’s one magazine that was always going to be all over the iPad and other touchscreen tablet devices, it was Wired…
Here’s Wired’s Creative Director Scott Dadich, and Adobe’s Jeremy Clark, talking about how they’ve been working on developing the magazine to take advantage of all the things you’ll be able to do…
It looks fantastic, doesn’t it?
Some thoughts occurred as I watched…
…it seems like it’d be pretty labour intensive to go to town on every page of a magazine. If more labour equals more cost, how does that sit with the notion that digital versions ‘cost significantly less’ than physical?
…it really works for Wired, it’s audience, and of course the subject areas covered. But you can see how it could work for any magazine; Hello could use something like Microsoft Photosynth to let you ‘walk around Fern Britton’s beautiful home’, and TV listings could have TV trails embedded right in.
…if magazine publishers put all that effort into producing a ‘magazine’ in this format… are they going to let you break it up and just read (and pay for) the parts you want? Or are they going to make you buy the whole thing?
The what? The Apple whodjimmy? The iPad? What, you hadn’t heard? Oh, they did some launch thing over in the States on Wednesday…
OK, so you can hardly have missed it, but here’s what I think are the headline points to bear in mind…
…but firstly, a quick overview of the device itself:
It weights 1.5lb (680g or so) so it’s pretty light, it’s half an inch thick, 9.5 inches high, and 7.5 inches wide…
…it comes with either a 16gb, 32gb or 64gb solid state drive, all models connect with Wi-Fi, you can upgrade to 3G (so you can use a phone network, though you don’t need to have a contract, it’s pre-pay)…
…it runs all the existing iPhone apps, there”s a bespoke version of iWork (Apple’s ‘Office’ equivalent) you can buy as apps too…
…and it works just like a big iPod Touch or iPhone, really.
Seriously though, of all the things mentioned yesterday, this to me is the thing that makes me think it’ll take off.
At a mere $499 for an entry model iPad, it’s already positioning itself as a device between a smartphone and laptop.
It’s not aiming to replace more expensive laptops, but to do something different in between. And I think that $499 is low enough for people to go and get one ‘just to see’.
Of course, netbook manufacturers, who led the way in producing small cheap machines whose purpose of existing was the access the internet wherever and whenever, are sitting this morning wondering where to go now.
Intel doesn’t yet have a proven track record in mobile chips currently (though have just contributed to their first Smartphone, the LG GW990), so Apple needed another option for the launch of the iPad…
However, it’s interesting news that the chip was made in-house, rather than sourcing another supplier. Yet perhaps it’s a move as you’d expect would have been the eventual step for a company who likes to do it all in-house.
Maybe at some point in the long term, they expect to make all of their own chips… which might cause a wee headache to some chip manufacturers…
3. Bye bye e-books
…though not as much of a headache as the e-book boys have right now.
But to save you the trouble, the reasons ‘not’ are pretty lame. So the future’s not looking great for the Kindle, but what about the much vaunted thought that…
4. “…it’ll save the newspaper industry!”
Let’s be honest; Apple haven’t exactly made it their mission to save the existing media industries.
Just look at music… it’s not like the iPod & iTunes did anything to preserve the existing model for the music industry; if anything, it hurried the mass population into a new way of behaving that could only hasten the industry’s model decline…
“I can pay much less for music, and only pick the songs I really wanted”.
In that light, can you really see the iPad preserving the income levels that the newspaper industry like to imagine a daily read of their paper is worth?
No, neither can I.
Sure, there will be a subscription model that’ll make a little money. Micropayments too, maybe, through iTunes.
But it won’t be anything near the level that newspaper owners think it should be; people will think…
“I can pay much less for news, and only pick the bits I really wanted”
5. It’ll have a big impact on TV
We like having lots of TVs in our home. Living room, then bedroom, then kitchen… the family could quickly disperse to the different rooms around the house to watch whatever they wanted.
The iPad is reportedly an excellent TV & movie device (it’s HD quality, of course). You can sit with it on your knee wherever you are (at home, on a train, in an airport, in the back seat of a car)…
…so watching content will be great; using a service like the iPhone TV Catchup anywhere you’ve got wi-fi would be a joy, much more so than it is on the iPhone.
But despite the ability to watch live TV like this, I think it’s still bad news for traditional linear TV viewing, and advertising by implication.
People will have another option to watch whatever they want wherever and whenever. It’ll encourage more use of downloading programming, which may have all the pre-rolls and whatever you like, but will not replace the money brought in by the traditional ad-break on TV.
And if content creators think they’ll switch to a revenue stream funded by ‘pay-per-show’, then they better be prepared to sell it cheap; already Apple clearly want to half the price of TV content on iTunes.
Finally, of course, we know that ‘two screen’ viewing is really coming into it’s own of late; sitting on the couch with your smartphone or laptop, with the TV on at the same time.
But if the device you hold is bigger. brighter, better, easier to surf… then less of your attention is going to be pointed at the screen in the corner of the room. The TV may be on, but the advertising will be increasingly ignored.
6. A new era of gaming
The iPhone was a huge success when it came to games. So much so, that it kinda caught Apple by surprise (they’ve never been that good on gaming, let’s be honest).
What was apparent that people really did want to play more intricate, complex games on a touchscreen platform…
…but in such a cramped space such as the iPhone, that made it hard; at times it seemed half the screen was taken up by virtual buttons.
But with a bigger device, you get more ‘game’ screen, and less pressure to squeeze in fiddly virtual buttons. Control gestures can be bigger, more natural.
And of course you’ve still got the accelerometer to control things by tipping and turning the device.
When the first iPhone launched, sure, there where a few things you could do with it.
But it was only when the thousands of developers populated the iPhone with the 100,000+ apps that everyone’s really been able to make it their own personal, perfect device. And now you can get all the iPhone apps on the iPad.
(BTW – Letting those developers in, whilst maintaining a level of control to keep quality at a decent threshold, was the smartest thing Apple may have done with the iPhone, IMHO)
But now there’s a whole new device to play with.
The gestures are based on hands, not thumbs. The viewing can be for many eyes, not just yours. The holding position is more book & magazine, less phone and iPod.
As Bryce says here, the iPad is about “packaging a new user experience which really comes down to the
software’s gesture interface, the SDK and the underlying hardware that
powers it all.” (HT David Cushman)
It’s not just a ‘big iPhone’; I think that’s just a lazy (if not snarky) observation to make.
When the developers are let loose on it in anger and start releasing proper iPad apps will we understand exactly what it’s capable of…
…and where it’s going to be of most use, like in…
I think there’s terrific opportunities to adopt the iPad (and the new generation of devices it will no doubt spawn from competitors) more in a work scenario.
Which Apple do too, given that they’ve launched special bespoke versions of the ‘iWork’ tools (Keynote, Numbers and Pages) as $9.99 apps for the device.
Now, as John Griffiths points out here it’s really at odds with the Microsoft Office charging model (who every time charge hundreds of dollars to upgrade to the next version of Office).
Though Apple of course want you to buy the new sausage, so give you the sizzle for virtually nothing.
But I was talking to Mike at Made by Many about this, and we agreed there’s huge potential for a device like the iPad to move into healthcare, education as well as traditional business.
It could represent a new way of accessing, creating and sharing information. Of course, you wouldn’t expect to walk into an NHS hospital and see all the Doctors accessing patient information on iPads, but there will be alternatives that are cheap enough to make widespread rollout possible.
The iPad will change the perception of what is possible & desirable from a device in the workplace, creating opportunities for many other manufacturers too.
9. Some folk are pretty disappointed
It’s well known that techy, bloggy types want the moon on a stick. For over six months, speculation has been rife about what the iPad ‘may’ be able to do.
Of course, when it doesn’t arrive, people get all disappointed… and start making (inevitable) Downfall versions of Hitler being told about it…
Sure, there’s no camera, no Flash support (Apple are clearly trying to kill Adobe’s Flash too, just for kicks), no multitasking (so you couldn’t run Spotify at the same time as a Keynote app, for instance)…
…but the overall disgruntlement is, I think, misplaced. Take this for instance…
“I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so
ridiculous! … I want something new! I want them to think differently!
Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!”
It’s not a reaction to the iPad this week. But to the original iPod, back in 2001 (via ReadWriteWeb). The first generation iPhone, when announced, faced similar disappointment and derision from within the techworld.
And look how they turned out…
10. The Market and Stephen Fry are impressed
Have a look at the Apple Share price over the last 6 months or so, ever since the rumour machine really started cranking up…
Not bad, huh? The market clearly thinks Apple are onto a winner…
“There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking,
still no Adobe Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute
you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgment
until you’ve spent five minutes with it.”
No YouTube film, no
promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even
hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and
interacting with one of these magical objects.”
I can’t wait to try it.
So there you have it, the Apple iPad. Personally, I think it’s going to cause big ripples across many markets, and you know what, that’s how I like things. Change is good. The iPad is great.
It’s going to revolutionise computing. It’s going to come packed with a free spaceship. It’s a window to peer backwards through time and alter the present. It comes with Wonkavision, so you can reach in and grab anything off eBay you fancy. It’s actually built from Sport Billy technology, so it shrinks to become a regular iPhone…
Well, no matter what it can do, a lot of the conversation so far has been about where it fits into folk’s lives. Would it replace the desktop computer, or the laptop, or the TV… or just aspects of all of these, but not as well..?
Well, here’s a thought; what if it took a trick out the Lego book, and the device as you see it above is just one brick… that can connect up to other bricks.
What do I mean? Well, take the MacBook pro below…
But don’t think of it as one whole device, but two blocks.
The first block is your Apple tablet. It can operate on it’s on, with the touchscreen, but you can then just slot it together with the keyboard element, and hey presto, you’ve got a laptop again.
Or think about a small television on a stand, like you might have in a bedroom or kitchen…
Again, the stand, the receiver, the hard drive with all your stored programmes are just other ‘blocks’ that you click a screen onto.
Of course, the laptop ‘docking station’ approach has been around for a while, and while I was looking around on t’net for an image, I found this patent filed by Apple back in 2008 (via Cybernet News, specced up by Gizmodo).
The supposition at the time was that it “looks like a typical Apple iMac screen base in which you would be able
to dock one of those ultra thin and light laptops rumored by sliding it
in right through the side of the screen. It would presumably fit
completely inside of the monitor.”
But what if it was never meant to ‘fit completely inside of the monitor.
What if it WAS the monitor…
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