I don’t think it is that I am getting used to the iPad that I’m writing this. But i do think that Flipboard does prove a point that the Kindle and other ebook readers and PDAs have been saying for years – make content enjoyable and we’ll read them with whatever we have.
It has gotten to the point now where I enjoy the iPad much more as a glorified browser than anything else. There’s the applications and all, but really, I’m hard to impress. Flipboard impresses me because of how you interface with the social content. It would make a ton of sense for many websites that act like magazines to push their content through to an interface like Flipboard, or even Adobe Digital Media Editions (which backbones the Wired app, also well done).
I describe the iPad and Kindle as coffee table computers. These are computers that would fit right in on someone’s coffee table to pick up and read/browse some content and then go away. And when you go away, contextually speaking, your device does this slide-show like mode where its updating feeds, threads, images, etc., but doing so as if it were a picture gallery. Then guest come into your home, and they get enthralled by a cover, pick it up, and begin to read/browse. I see this as the type of computing that these devices can facilitate.
I wish that I could say that I saw the iPad as something more. Yes, it can (and should) handle some project management tasks, but its not the place to create your BRD. The SharePoints of the world should love devices like thesse – and I’ve argued in the past that most PMs and BAs really need just a tablet, not a worksatation.
I don’t see the iPad replacing computing for many people at the bleeding edge of whatever it is they do. I see it replacing computing for those moments when they just want to read and rest leisurely, like in a setting where you’d find a coffee table.
Should the Kindle do more in response to this? I don’t know. It is very much the book-like device that works here. At the same time, its not as malleable to the environment, its still a very personal device. The iPad isn’t so much personal as much as it invites conversation and sharing. And these are good niches, just those niches that will and should continue to transform how we think of computing as an isolated experience from other media or means of interaction.
As I write this (on my N97), I’m reminded of the statement, “give a man a hammer and everything looks like a nail.” Maybe I’m in some respect evolving from that mindset with mobile becasue I do see the point of some interfaces and device types (and would argue that the best device type would transform between the user’s two best modes elegantly). And at the same time I see that there is a hammer that’s not yet gotten all of the nail’s attention – the internet is an answer for monetary and informational models that print media is having a hard time answering. Maybe to the need of those magazines, those magazine which want to be read, touched, embraced, maybe they should look at these platforms a bit faster – and then people look more closely at what it is they really do with reading, besides the emotional attachments.