Computing UIs and the iPad

“So, let’s call attention to the one key area where Apple didn’t beat estimates: iPad sales. Analysts were estimating about 13 million units sold, although the range seemed to go from about 9 million to about 15 million units. Turns out that apple sold 11.9 million iPads in the last quarter. That’s a ton of tablets and it’s a massive year-over-year increase, but we’ve been talking about iPads as if they were *the* future of computing. Yet in a quarter with a new iPad launch, Apple managed to sell 12 million units worldwide. I don’t want to overpredict based on one number, but I’ve had a nagging sense from my own spotty iPad usage that the devices may remain a luxury. They don’t quite replace your computer and they’re not as mobile as your phone. What if the incredibly enthusiastic, urban, travel-all-the-time iPad early adopters actually have very different needs from the broader mobile computing market? What if beyond the perfect world travelers, the price is just too high for what you get? What if the upgrade cycle is going to be much, much slower than for phones?”The One Fly in the Apple-Earnings Ointment: iPad Sales - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

This is precisely what I’ve always felt - I feel like the needs we have from our computers, and the expectations that we’ve come to develop from our computing devices, make the iPad a bit of a luxury device.

Multitasking is a big part of that: I think less and less, as I’ve said before, are we looking at activities as isolated. As we do one thing, we may be taking data from that thing over to another thing, wanting to refer back and forth between things, etc. Our way of thinking is networked and associative, not linear and single tracked. The iOS computing interface, compared to the “paper on a desktop” model of the traditional OS, isn’t quite natural for computing tasks that increasingly reflect the way we approach content.

I think as we move forward, more and more people will want this from their computers, as creators or otherwise - and that that isn’t just a luxury of power users, but rather the other way around.