115 Comments

Summary:

It is easy to get caught up in the drama around iPad sales, the death of the laptop or Apple’s tussle with Google’s Android. However, once I handed an iPad to my mom, and after her FaceTime-ing with her grandkids, none of the drama mattered.

momusingipad

Apple is about to introduce a new iPad. Good — for I need to buy a new one. I left my old one with my mother. When visiting my folks in India, I decided to leave my Macbook Air at home — I didn’t want to write and just wanted to spend some quality time with the family. Instead, I carried my iPad 2. (I don’t leave home without it.)

When at home, I did a FaceTime call with my siblings who also live overseas. I handed over the iPad to my mom. She had this look of amazement, one of pure unadulterated joy as she chatted with her grandson.

Being a broadband nerd who cannot stop thinking and talking about the need for speed and connectivity, I felt this moment captured essentially what I, and by extension GigaOM, am all about — connectedness and the change it brings. For once, the technology didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter how it was happening — just that she could talk to her grandson who was oceans apart from her. If there ever was a moment that captured the emotion in a piece technology, that was it. The look on her face made me realize how lucky I am to write about an industry that makes such things possible. I also thought to myself, maybe somewhere Steve Jobs is smiling too.

Apple, clearly, is not for everyone. But for me that moment of joy experienced by my mother is enough of a reason why there will be no other computer company. Apple’s competitors will do their own thing. Some, like Samsung, will do spectacularly well. But for me, Apple finds ways to delight people, pushing technology into the background. When Steve Jobs passed away, I wrote:

Jobs put life and soul into inanimate objects. Everyone saw steel, silicon and software; he saw an opportunity to paint his Mona Lisa. People saw a phone; Steve saw a transporter of love. People saw a tablet; he saw smiles and wide-eyed amazement. They made computers; he made time machines that brought us all together through a camera, screen and a connection.

The smile on my mother’s face captures what I wrote the best.The iPad is now with mom. She set up her iCloud account. She figured out Skype, browsing and email. She knows how to send iMessages. More importantly, she has created FaceTime connections for all those who matter to her. I get a feeling that her Windows PC will gather dust and she will be bothering me a lot — right in the middle of a meeting in San Francisco. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

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  1. This is a nice article. Clearly technology is just a tool for making human lives better, and Steve Jobs understood that and used technology like an artist would use his brushes!

    1. Well said Gautam. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Like Legos, soon the iPad packaging would have “2-100″ on the packaging.

    2. Nothing to add. 100 percent agree!

  2. Jitendra Vyas Friday, March 2, 2012

    Agree with OM. iPad is really awesome. Kids and Older people learn it instantly, even it’s easier to understand then a Mobile/Smart phone

  3. Reblogged this on Mark Roddis and commented:
    I came across this over on Gigaom and I think Om really manages to get across just how back to front we often get when talking about technology.
    It must always be about the user

    1. back-to-front is a quaint phrase. I might have to use it in the future, with your permission of course Mark.

      1. Your comment made me go reaching for your terms and conditions and realise that I may have fallen on the wrong side of your copyright so I shall correct this straight away and apologise however in doing so I have come across something rather odd.
        I used the WordPress platforms REBLOG function which places a short excerpt of your blog and then a link through to the full article here. In my view there is never any claim that this is other than a pointer back to your article.
        BUT
        The Reblog feature is effectively offered as a button on your website (in the same way as the like button etc) and reading the WordPress terms and conditions it seems to imply that this is acceptable.
        So what is right here?
        Have I breached your copyright by using a function offered up by your host (WordPress) in which case I apologise or am I reading too much into your comments?

    2. “It must always be about the user” is exactly why Apple is so successful.
      And you who disparage “Apple fanbois” act like you don’t get that.

  4. Manish Goyal Friday, March 2, 2012

    Om your articles are always a delight to read ..this one is on the same line

  5. Zarani Barrow Friday, March 2, 2012

    Awesome! I LOVE all things communication technology related. I can’t get enough of this site. It is a must read every day. Most of my dad’s siblings live in the US while my grandmother remains in Guyana. I think I’ll pull a Mailik and leave my iPad2 behind when I visit this winter.

    1. Zarani make you grand mom happy :-)

  6. Brian S Hall Friday, March 2, 2012

    Your 1000 words were great but I think the picture says even more. Good stuff.

    1. Agreed. The photo says it all. words come in the way…

  7. Mihir Khajanchi Friday, March 2, 2012

    My 80 year old granny loves the iPad and plays Solitaire on it! Her latest fascination is accessing Facebook on iPad and commenting on pictures! This definitely wouldn’t have been possible in the PC era! :)

  8. Aanarav Sareen Friday, March 2, 2012

    Completely agreed, Om. Recently, my grandfather experienced Skype video calls for the first time and was stunned. Technology is great for those who create it, but even better for those who use it to make better connections.

    1. Well said Aanarav.

  9. My little niece has been using my iPad since she was 4 yrs. she will not even appreciate Steve Jobs when she grows up because she would think that this is how it has to be anyway. That is the power of true design.

  10. Lets be honest though. If you had given her any other tablet with video calling the delight would have been exactly the same.

    1. Maybe. Maybe not. Its not about the tablet as much as the thought apple puts behind the UI. Its not about video calling but the ease of using facetime. Think of the emotional connection made by a product that makes a non-techie feel like she can do anything on a tablet. Its the ease, not the tool.

    2. Nicu Mihalache skc Friday, March 2, 2012

      Yeah, we all know, Android is great!

    3. I would have to disagree on that! it would have taken a lot longer!

    4. You are correct but the author and many posters just want it to be about Apple. Hell on just my phone I can simply touch an icon and I’m doing a video call. Nothing difficult. And you can tell the author knows its BS because the rebuttal is addressed before it even happens.

      Its fine to like Apple, MS, Google or whoever. But this picture painting that some Apple product is the easiest or worse yet only way to do something is crap. For instance my niece which had a really crappy Android budget phone upgraded to an iPhone. Within two hours she felt it was crap and took it back for a Galaxy S2 which she loves. That’s the story that’s rarely told. And say what you want but the overall platform market share numbers say that this isn’t a story that rarely happens.

      1. Exactly my sentiment. Instead of facetime it might be some more universal technology. Better interoperatibility instead of learning some apple lingo. What bugs me is that as journalist, the perspective painted by the apple philes leaves out that there are other (many times better) options out there.

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