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By Stephen Beals

About Stephen

Stephen Beals is a veteran prepress manager with some 30 years of experience in the commercial print business. He has written hundreds of articles for dozens of publications and owns the website "Printoolz" for software for print and multimedia production. Stephen also founded his own murder mystery dinner theatre troupe and is a Presbyterian pastor.


The REAL Reason the iPad is Such a Big Hit

I got my iPad because I won it in a contest sponsored by Agency Creative in Addison, TX, north of Dallas. That is not to say I did not want an iPad; I certainly did. But I would probably have waited for the second generation version.

I had considered a Kindle, and then I considered the Barnes and Noble Nook, which, by the way, I think is the best answer out there if all you’re looking for is a black-and-white e-reader, since it comes with free wireless and 3G connectivity and has some very nice navigation features.

I’ll hold off on the real reason I think the iPad will blow away all of the critics’ concerns for a minute and make a couple of comments first.

e-Readers will certainly dominate the publishing scene in short order. They're easier, faster, cheaper and much more convenient than a hard copy book. Folks who say they wouldn’t dream of giving up the touch and feel of a real live book either haven’t held an eReader in their hands or simply are waxing nostalgic. For a student, eReaders are a no-brainer. Why lug 20 pounds of books around all day when a two-pound eReader can hold them all? Magazines, books and newspapers will all benefit from the multimedia capabilities of the newer eReaders.

As for the environmental argument, I think the impact of eReaders vs. hard copy books has to be somewhere along the lines of a draw. And lack of availability issue will rapidly become moot. Publishers are hopping on eBooks much more quickly than printers jumped into offset and then digital print.

Apple has once again introduced a product that just works. It’s the right size and shape, the right ease of use and the right blend of applications. It will surely evolve over time to add the missing features critics say it lacks. But it works extremely well just as it is.

But what is that real reason I was talking about? The reason I think the iPad will be a resounding success? It’s not because Apple sold 2 million of them in 60 days, though that’s pretty solid evidence. It is because when my mother-in-law saw my iPad, she wanted one. Not only did she want one, she gave me a check and sent me off to the Apple store to get it for her.

My mother-in-law is 84 (most folks call her “Grammy”), and the iPad does everything she needs. Her email, her Web browsing and her word processing. And yes, she’s also on Facebook. More important is the iPad has Scrabble and Pages apps for $9.99 apiece.

Admittedly, she did not want to mess with configuring everything and her old G4 Powerbook wasn’t up to syncing with the iPad (Snow Leopard required). But I bit the bullet and updated my MacBook Pro and gave her my old one. Poor me! (I was thinking about doing that anyway). So if anyone is looking for a G4 Powerbook, let me know.

She is having a ball with her new iPad. And she’s only asked me once how to use it. There’s a video on YouTube of a three-year-old using one and just figuring out what she needed to do to make it work. My mom-in-law cannot be considered a computer geek, but she’s having no trouble at all figuring out the iPad with almost no coaching from me. Apple has made a product that’s a joy to use for young and old, and that’s rare in any market, let alone the tech world.

That’s why the iPad is going to be a smash hit.


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