Blog Post

Your Mom Wants an iPad

I’ve been amazed by the flood of negative press surrounding Apple’s (s aapl) latest offering. I like what David Pogue had to say about the shape of a typical Apple product release — “months of feverish speculation and hype online,” followed by “the bashing by bloggers who’ve never even tried it,” followed by “people lining up to buy the thing” — and the iPad release has followed that trajectory quite nicely.

But what’s so surprising to me about the bad reviews is the general condemnation of the iPad’s features. According to the blogosphere, most of the things that make the iPhone good make the iPad bad, which doesn’t make a lot of sense. What’s worse, though, is how much of the criticism is just facile. Are we really going to give big-name, prime-time, above-the-fold blog space to the iPad’s bezel?

I am disappointed.

So while I agree that the iPad looks like the iPhone grew up and got a job as a picture frame, I’m disappointed that only very few seem willing to look past that to see that the two devices have very different goals. Whereas the iPhone was about convergence of features, the iPad is about convergence of activities.

The iPad Versus the iPhone — What, You Mean They’re Not the Same?

The iPhone was designed from the ground up to change the mobile phone game with its features. Feature convergence was already a longstanding trend in the U.S. device market when the iPhone was released in 2007, having started with the first true smartphones like the Palm Treo in the early ’90s. But despite a full decade of “convergent” devices, there was still no one device in the U.S. market that combined telephone, music, contacts, high-quality GPS, and usable Internet browsing until the iPhone. The iPhone let people do things that no other phone would. Add the iPhone’s intuitive interface, polished appearance, and Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field to the iPhone’s (at the time) one-of-a-kind feature list and you get a bona fide, must-have, status symbol phenomenon on your hands.

The iPad, on the other hand, is designed from the ground up to be incredibly simple, but still useful and robust. Whereas the iPhone let techies do things they couldn’t do before at all, the iPad will let muggles do things they already do more easily.

Time has turned the iPhone’s touch interface from “newfangled” to “natural,” especially for the non-tech savvy crowd, so many people will find everyday tasks like email more satisfying on the iPad’s intuitive touch interface. People can say a lot of things about Apple’s products, but they can’t say that they’re hard to use. Apple’s track record on usability is stellar, and the iPad is more than living up to its pedigree.

The iPhone has also proven that apps are serious business, which means that iPad users can rest assured that if they want a simple-to-use app for playing poker, or planning a trip, or even looking at funny pictures of cats, the worst they’ll have to do is wait. And remember, all 185,000 apps in the App Store work on the iPad out of the box. (They may not be pretty, but they work.) The App Store will make the iPad the average user’s one stop shop for simple tasks and casual recreation. And because all apps come from the App Store, which has ratings and reviews for each one, finding good apps is easy because they’re all in one place and just a keyword search away.

But even though it’s obvious that the iPhone and the iPad are pursuing different goals in different markets, the most common criticism of the iPad by far is still its perceived lack of features. It’s true: the iPad lacks Flash support and HDMI output, and is not widescreen. But the people who have bought or are going to buy the iPad don’t care. If these features are important to you, then the iPad isn’t for you. Don’t buy it. But it’s important to understand that these features aren’t important to everybody, even if they’re important to you.

The Whole Point of the iPad: The Market

Because of the incredible amount of buzz that has surrounded the iPhone since its launch, it’s easy to forget that not everybody has one, or even wants one. The iPhone was aimed at techies who needed access to high technology anytime, anywhere. That’s a lot of people, to be sure, but it’s not everybody. The iPad is aimed at a different market: people who want an easy-to-use computer that’s powerful enough, as opposed to a souped-up phone.

Is there overlap between these two markets? Sure. But they’re not the same. The purpose of the iPad is to take iPhone technology and boldly go where no iPhone has gone before.

There are three kinds of people when it comes to the iPad: people who won’t buy it, people who will buy it and use it as their primary computer, and people who will buy it but will not use it as their primary computer. (There’s probably at least one more group that says something like “*@#$ no I won’t buy it!” but I’m trying to keep this article family friendly.)

The iPad as a Primary Computer

The people who will buy the iPad to use as their primary computer are not who you would call “power users.” They do simple things on computers, so a simple computer suits them just fine. How about your mom, for instance? Your mom uses her computer to play solitaire, check her email, poke around on, and leave embarrassing comments on your Facebook wall. The iPad is perfect for your mom. It’s easy to use, hard to break, and (compared to a “real” computer) not too expensive.

To your mom, the iPad’s simplicity is a feature, not a bug.

And when was the last time your mom complained that she can’t distribute her app to her friends because there’s no ad-hoc app distribution? How about never? Your mom loves that all apps come from the App Store because it gives her a better-than-chance shot at actually finding them.

And to those who call Apple’s closed platform restrictive and controlling: Bingo! But stop saying that like it’s a bad thing. Instead of thinking about what you can’t do on the iPad because it’s closed, start thinking about what your mom can’t do on the iPad because it’s closed:

  1. Install that friendly-looking free PC tune-up
  2. Claim her prize for being the 999th visitor to
  3. Streamline her iPad with “convenient browser toolbars”
  4. Download RealPlayer and its 517MBs of “must-have!” add-ons

Since Apple checks all App Store apps one-by-one, malware on the iPad just doesn’t exist. I don’t know why more geeks don’t support the iPad for exactly this reason — it’ll cut their mommy-related tech support calls in half.

And about the other “missing” features: Does your mom even know what HDMI is? How about widescreen standards? Product features are only important if they’re important to the people buying the product.

(By the way, it took all my discipline not to crack a joke in a whole section of talking about your mom.)

The iPad as a Secondary Computer

The people who buy the iPad to use as a secondary computer will be trying to do one of a couple of things: liven up their dead time, or make their hard work easier.

For the first case, think about a commuter who doesn’t drive to work in the morning (New York City, anyone?). Now that the iPad 3G has hit the streets, they can read any newspaper in the world, catch up on their reading, play some games, and look at compromising pictures of their friends on MySpace with multitouch goodness on a beautiful 9.7″ color screen all for $629 down and $15-$30 per month. It’s hard to call Kindle a good alternative for this market, even with free 3G wireless and a price tag of $259, because of its non-touch screen, lack of an App Store, slow Internet browsing, and because gosh, isn’t color nice? The Nook hits a little closer to the mark because of its color touch screen, but it’s still really just for books and other digitized print media, not for videos and apps. And both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have (or will soon have) iPad e-Reader apps, too, so it’s pretty clear they don’t expect their devices to out-compete the iPad on its own turf. But if you still don’t think the iPad will be used by morning commuters to catch up on the news and such, there are a couple small companies like the Wall Street Journal and NPR who disagree. If I weren’t so addicted to writing software in the morning (OK, all the time) and I didn’t drive my morning commute, the iPad would be a no-brainer for me.

The second crowd is thinking: sure, it’s expensive, but so what? This market of overworked high rollers like doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers value their time more than they value their money, so any product that can make catching up on email or keeping up on the news either (a) go faster or (b) suck less will be on their Amazon wish list in a big hurry. And these guys aren’t exactly what you’d call “price sensitive,” so for them productivity is king. Even the most expensive $899 price tag on the top model is well below their flinch point if it makes their work just a little faster or their life just a little more fun.

The iPad As a Viable Product

So if the iPad looks like a huge iPhone…well, good. I know a lot of people who could really use an iPhone-cum-tablet. iPhones don’t do everything, but they do a lot and they do it well, and most important of all they just work. And if the iPad bears more than a passing resemblance to an iPhone, that’s not a bad thing if you want to buy something that’s a lot like an iPhone. And it looks like that’s something a lot of people want to do.

Your mom doesn’t need a new widescreen computer with HDMI output and an open development process. Your mom needs a computer that does what she wants to do quickly and easily. That’s why she wants an iPad.

And she’s not alone.

62 Responses to “Your Mom Wants an iPad”

  1. Dylan Weber

    Well, I agree with half and half. Yes, Apple does not support Flash. I go with them in that, but for now, the really need to put that on there. Maybe in 3 or 2 years they can shove it away. Secondly, some is Apple’s fault. Facebook chat doesn’t work, so Apple have to fix it. They are trying to shift internet trolls away from Flash. This is like saying removing fur from dog: Yeah, it is possible, but it’s too much of a hassle and they might freak out and mess everything.
    If it was a Mac OS X tablet, and not iPhone OS, everything would have gone smoother on everyone’s part.

  2. You need another computer to use it?

    You need another computer to use it? And still people are beaking off about what a great computer REPLACEMENT it could be for your Moms. Wow, real brilliant. It’s a fucking toy, deal with it and stop crying.

  3. Patrick

    Hey, I don’t know if this has been said already. But the more people you get using the “internet” the better. the ipod and iphone have gotten my brother used to the internet since he was young. He’s figured out basically everything on our computer on his own. The ipad can do that to the technophobes in society. It should be considered commendable just for being a good learning tool.

  4. Hamranhansenhansen

    I’ve been amazed by the flood of negative press
    surrounding Apple’s latest offering.

    Yeah, the nerds protest too much. They’re like some kind of religious police force.

    The people who will buy the iPad to use as
    their primary computer are not who you would
    call “power users.”

    Yeah, I have a friend who wants an iPhone for the apps, but she keeps dropping her feature phone all day long. When she saw my iPad she goes “it’s so small! That is going to be my next computer!”

    Her entire computer use is Web and email, partly because she doesn’t know how to install a native app on Windows or Mac. A feature phone she can treat badly and an iPad in her purse is ideal for her.

    It’s true: the iPad lacks Flash support

    The thing that non-iPad users don’t realize is that when you go to many websites with a PC, you see the video in Flash, but when you go to the same website with an iPad, you see the video in HTML5. For example,, or, and many others. Same with all the Vimeo video, Brightcove video, and of course YouTube video. And watching the video takes very little battery power via HTML5 because the video is being decoded by iPad’s built-in video player.

    So if you’re only using a PC, you think “OMG not having Flash would be terrible” but it is not. It’s actually great. The browser is fast, the video is integrated, the battery life is long.

    There was an Adobe evangelist who made a list of 10 Flash websites you wouldn’t be able to see on iPad, but when you actually went to look at them, 8 of the 10 were viewable. And 1 of the 10 was Hulu, which is not even viewable on Android v2.2 mobiles with FlashPlayer because Hulu is only licensed for Mac/PC. So it was really only 1 site that had video that was not viewable, out of his list of top video sites.

    That’s just not worth the security risks, battery drain, and constant updates of Flash.

    For the first case, think about a commuter
    who doesn’t drive to work in the morning
    (New York City, anyone?).

    I take the train in Northern California, from Silicon Valley to SF. It is a joy to use an iPad in this context because you can take it out and put it away instantly, it fits easily with the seat in front, and I can watch video podcasts of news, read the Web, do email, watch movies, play games, it is absolutely perfect. It’s a digital newspaper.

    Even the most expensive $899 price tag on the top model

    iPad 3G is $829 for the top model. In California it is $915 total with tax and shipping.

    If you buy a $300 netbook with $60/month 5GB 3G, that is $500 more expensive over 2 years than the high-end iPad with $30/month unlimited 3G. You can actually buy the high-end iPad 3G plus service plus a $300 netbook (without 3G) and an iPod nano and you still save $50 over a netbook with 3G.

    Most websites do not display correctly on the iPad.

    It depends what kind of sites you browse. For me, my favorite sites work great.

    The key thing with this is that it will get better quickly because the Web is clearly moving very quickly from IE6-centric to HTML5-centric, especially since Microsoft announced that IE9 is a full HTML5 rewrite of Internet Explorer and since iPad shipped with HTML5 browser. IE6, IE7, and IE8 are all dead-end browsers, and all the rest are HTML5, so there is really no choice but to go to HTML5. I’m a Web developer and I spent my last year converting Flash to HTML5 so that it runs universally. The trend is unmistakable.

    Even so, I would take a few websites not working quite right over a virus-prone Windows system. A friend of mine who uses Windows has had his system totally destroyed by viruses 3 times in the past year. Much worse than a few sites not working.

    My Mom definitely isn’t going to want to put
    her credit card information into iTunes (which
    you have to do even to access free content)

    No, you don’t. You can buy iTunes gift cards at supermarkets and drug stores and use those. A credit card is not required.

    Typing on the iPad is slow and awkward on
    the wrists. My Mom would be much more
    comfortable with a keyboard.

    iPad supports any Bluetooth or USB keyboard. I use the Apple Wireless Keyboard with my iPad when I need to do any serious typing, it is a piece of aluminum only a few millimeters thin with keys growing out of it. Extremely portable. It fits in a pocket of a briefcase I have that is made for passports.

    The media has downplayed the importance of
    the lack of Flash on the iPad,

    No way. It’s the opposite. The sturm and drang over Flash is way overdone, especially when you consider that Adobe has not yet come out of beta on a mobile FlashPlayer. I do both Web and Flash development and there has been no new Flash projects at all for 2 years. It’s going away faster than Adobe can get a FlashPlayer for Mobiles up and running.

    It’s not just that mobiles don’t have a FlashPlayer. There are no 64-bit versions of FlashPlayer for Windows, Mac, and Linux, either. Game consoles do not have it. Set-top boxes are starting to run the Web now and they do not have Flash. All these devices have native H.264 video players, Flash is not required to play H.264 anymore.

    In short: Flash is going away fast. No need for any freaking out about it like has been going on in the media.

    You can’t print from the iPad (easily). My mom
    loves printing coupons.

    That is so adorable I can’t stand it.

    If you press and hold on a coupon in the Web browser, you get a button “Save image” that puts the coupon in the photo library. It’s easy to print from the photo library via 3rd party app, but it may be enough to just show the photo of the coupon on the iPad at the store.

    The iPad has to be held in one hand and you
    type with the other

    No, not at all. It can sit flat on a desk, flat on your lap. I use it a lot sitting on a desk with the Apple Wireless Keyboard on my lap.

    If you’re walking around with it, yes you hold it in one hand and type with the other. But do you walk around with a netbook or laptop? That is even worse.

    Facebook games are all in Flash, and Apple
    has declared war on Flash.

    No, Adobe declared war on Apple. They blamed Apple for their own inability to ship a FlashPlayer for ARM mobiles for many years. There was 3 years of anti-Apple PR from Adobe before Steve Jobs “Thoughts on Flash” which was the first time Apple even confirmed they have decided not to support it. And they did so after waiting 3 years for Adobe to come up with something. Adobe said in 2007 that they had a functional FlashPlayer for Mobiles ready for iPhone and Apple won’t use it, but then in 2008 Android called their bluff when they cloned the iPhone and asked Adobe for FlashPlayer. They just shipped a beta for the first time like 2 days ago, and it requires a 2010 phone. So Adobe has lied and lied and lied.

    Flash is 100% Adobe’s platform. If you have any kind of complaint with it, the blame is 100% Adobe’s. They could have built mobile players in 2005, they could have opened up Flash years ago. Apple WebKit is on every single computing platform running at high efficiency because Apple open sourced it. FlashPlayer is all Adobe’s, nobody else can build one.

    The Facebook games are all coming to iPhone OS as native apps. There are over 50,000 games in App Store. There’s no lack of games on iPhone OS. There are even many great HTML5 games that run in the browser. Google’s Pac-Man game runs in the browser on iPad.

    I don’t want to type a long e-mail on a touch screen,

    Then use a USB or Bluetooth keyboard. I don’t like to play piano on my Mac keyboard, so I plug in a piano keyboard. Same principle.

    It’s a testament to the strength of Apple’s
    following and their cool in the marketplace
    that the device is selling as strongly as it is

    Half of iPads are being sold to PC users. 25% of iPads are going to people who have never owned an Apple product.

    For the type of person who keeps a laptop
    on the coffee table for random browsing?
    It can replace that laptop for sure.
    For everyone else? I think we’ll be seeing
    a lot of buyer’s remorse.

    iPad has 95% user satisfaction. That has already been polled.

    You missed the point of this article. It’s not just for browsing. There are almost 200,000 apps. The device morphs into other devices. Art tools, audio tools, musical instruments, writing tools, photo editing tools, and on and on. It has a WebEx client, it has Citrix Receiver (remote PC access), it has Keynote, the best presentation app in the world.

    Besides the printing problem,

    There are 3rd party apps that will print anything out of your photo library, and you can put anything into your photo library from almost any app.

    How does mom update her iPad without a computer.

    How does your mom update a Windows PC? How does she clean viruses off it? How does she back it up?

    Chances are, your mom or dad is not doing any of these things. Whoever would do them for their Windows PC (a techie son or daughter or hired I-T consultant) just has to sync their iPads with an account on a Mac/PC from time to time. There is a setting in iTunes to encrypt the backup for privacy. It takes only a few minutes and almost no techie skills.

    I would much rather bring my notebook by to my parent’s place and sync their iPad with iTunes than maintain a Windows PC and clean viruses off it and so on.

    I thought about buying the iPad for my parents,
    but as long as they won’t be able to print
    this just won’t work. My parents love printing
    out every other email and every photo they take,
    so this is a must-have before the iPad is

    The thing is, iPad is a piece of digital paper. You don’t need to print your photos since you have your whole photo library in vivid 8×10’s on your iPad. You don’t need to print emails if you have all your emails on iPad. In other words, what is on iPad is already “printed.” iPad actually replaces a printer in a PC setup quite readily. All the stuff you’re used to printing you just put on iPad.

    If they do need to print, there are 3rd party apps that can print. You can print from iPhone for a long time. But I think you will find that they don’t want to print if they have an iPad.

    I totally agree with your post. I wish reviewers
    would start reviewing products with respect to
    their target market.

    Agreed. Not just the people such as moms and dads, but also they should keep in mind that iPad is a “consumer electronics” device, not a PC.

    For example, many reviewers will say iPad is “closed”, yet by the standards of consumer electronics, iPad is an incredibly open device, with open source core OS, open source browser core, all open standard formats and interfaces, and anyone can write C apps for it with the free tools, even young kids are in App Store. Compare to PlayStation or XBox they are totally closed source, weird formats and interfaces, and you have to pay thousands of dollars to make an app. Compare to Android, where the C API is totally 100% closed, the only people who can run native C on Android is Google. 3rd party developers are limited to Java applets.

    So it is not doing anyone any favors to compare an iPad to a PC and announce it is “closed.” Which is especially weird given that Windows is totally closed source, weird formats, it doesn’t even have an HTML5 browser built-in yet.

    In consumer electronics, it is also common for devices to only support standard formats. Your DVD player can’t play Ogg or Flash, it only plays universal standard MPEG videos.

    iPad is essentially a printer, not a PC. I haven’t seen any printer reviews that complain the printer is too closed, you can’t hack on it, or root it and install Linux. It just shows how closed-minded many computer nerds are. No wonder so many are still running Windows/DOS/IBM monopoly systems.

    • Gazoobee

      Someone really likes to hear themselves talk. :-)

      The thing that gets me is that this guy writes a nice positive article that’s actually well researched and well written and so many people take the time to crap all over it. I’m certainly not above criticising, in fact I do it all the time, but only when the article doesn’t make any sense or is poorly or negatively written. There is none of that here.

      Also, some of the replies are so weak! Especially the guy running down the standard list of Android complaints but claiming it’s “his mother” that thinks so. No one believes you dude.

      For those arguing about Facebook, you should know that Facebook is planning an iPad version, that the iPhone one works fine already, and that the Flash games like Farmville are already in the process of being ported to iPhone OS. Did anyone really think that Facebook wasn’t going to be workable on the most popular platform since sliced bread? Get a grip guys.

      Printing is also a lock for the next iPad OS revision and both the iPad and iPhone OS planned to be identical at the OS 4.1 stage around September. All of this is common knowledge.

    • You long winded moron

      $100 says not a single person read that in its’ entirety – what a long-winded twat you are. I hate everything about you. Nothing is worth writing that boring drivel. Go get a hobby or something, your time can be much better spent.

    • KTLawrence

      “I’ve been amazed by the flood of negative press surrounding Apple’s latest offering.”

      No one cares what you think. At least you aren’t completely one-sided and offer a fair unbiased opinion. Oh wait…

  5. I totally agree with your post. I wish reviewers would start reviewing products with respect to their target market. As a computer technician the iPad won’t replace my laptop right away, but I am definitely going to start recommending it to my customers.

  6. Michael

    I thought about buying the iPad for my parents, but as long as they won’t be able to print this just won’t work. My parents love printing out every other email and every photo they take, so this is a must-have before the iPad is “elderly-friendly”.

  7. Jethro Bodine

    Right On Bro (don’t taze me) !

    Granny loves her iPad.

    Uncle Jed is being stubborn but he will come around to Apple’s way of thinking.

    I love doing my double not number crunching on the iPad.

    Ellie May wants to borrow my iPad for her girly stuff.

    Mr. D and Ms. H like the revenue potential of the iPad for their bankster activities.

    In Summary, everything is good up here in the Hills and we are lovin our iPads.

    Y’all git u some iPad Ya hear !

  8. The decades I spent in sales and marketing taught me long, long ago that garden variety human beings buy most of everything.

    Pundits and ego-smitten pipsqueaks talk mostly to each other.

    Steve Jobs and Jonny Ives are laughing all the way to the bank.

  9. How many Mum’s (sorry Mom’s) are going to forget to charge it ?

    Its a great device however prices in the UK are far higher than the US – over US$600 for the basic model. Unfortunately I think a lot of Mum’s over here might have to wait a while while sons and daughters save up !!

    • In the US prices are quoted before sales tax. So my 16GB iPad 3G cost me $629 + 6% NJ state sales tax = $666.74 or approx £460. If I lived in New York City the sales taxes would be higher. So New Yorkers pay more for the iPad than people in New Jersey.

      In the UK the prices are quoted with VAT (value added tax) already added in. The 16GB iPad 3G in the UK is £529 tax included.

  10. Glenn

    I wish people would stop complaining about how closed apple products are. For me it’s a total relief and confidence that firstly, I don’t need to worry above virus’s or malware, or even apps that cause my PC to crash, or have no idea where they come from, they, along with all apple products come through a safe reliable trust worthy channel and that ultimately makes for better computing.

    • Larry

      I wish un-informed Mac users would stop saying every PC gets a virus. If this was true everyone would be buying Mac’s insted of the 3-5% that are.

      I have not seen a Windows Vista and Windows 7 with UAC left on, and updated get a virus. I have seen XP, user running as a full administrator get a virus in a second by going to some shady website.

      On Snow Leopard you run as a limited user unless you enter a password, just like Windows Vista or Windows 7 with UAC on. My Snow Leopard install on my 3 Mac’s seem to have constant updates from Apple, not really different from my Windows 7 computers.

    • Sucker

      suckers… one born every minute. Yes, let them guide your computer life, you certainly can’t do it yourself. You’re right; Apple is good for helping out people that like to have their decisions made for them. Sad.

  11. Larry

    Mom uses Quicken every day. Mom runs a scrapbook app on her computer. Mom downloads videos (HD no less) from her new Panasonic ZS7, and edits them and then uploads them for all of use to see.

    The iPad is magical….for some things. A computer replacement its not. A media consumption device, sure.

    If you want to try and replace you computer with your iPad…have it, I will just sit back and watch.

  12. Newstech

    Bravo for all these points. But to expand on this, you can be a geek and still think iPad is great. I started programming more than 40 years ago, and was a technology manager (PCs and Unix) for the last 24 years. I got to play with an iPad for the past 3 days, and now my name’s on a waiting list. Why? Because it’s the nearest thing to nothing between you and the content. The device almost vanishes.

    Using the iPad was up there with a handful of other technology moments where I felt a chill go down my spine, like seeing the first non-public demo of a graphical web browser (Mosaic) at a trade show in early 1993.

    The haters need to get one in their hands first and give it a fair shot.

    • There are some people who would prefer to hate a thing sight unseen. Then they argue that since THEY see no need for that thing then the no has no utility to anyone else and the thing should not exists. The fact that others have a use for that thing does not matter.

  13. michaelant

    You wouldn’t truly be able to give your mom just an iPad if she doesn’t already have a computer, would you? What about backups? If she created any Pages docs or anything, she’d have to remember to email them to herself, and that’s a pretty techy thing to have to remember to do.

    • Someone

      When you purchase an iPad brand new the first thing it asks you to do is hook it up to a computer. The device will not work until you do this. You need a computer to set up the device, so no – this is not a standalone replacement for a real computer by any means.

  14. Besides the printing problem, How does mom update her iPad without a computer.To me the iPad seems to be somewhat of a toy for computer owners. Somewhat like the truck that enjoys his corvette on weekends

    • If by update you mean “update the firmware” then yes your are correct. But … you do not need a computer to purchase music, video, ebook, apps etc.

      Of course the iPad (small car) does many things a desktop (SUV) or laptop (sedan) can’t do. Last longer than 10 hours (get more than 25 MPG) without causing back strain.

  15. Huck500

    This isn’t just for mom…

    Here are the things I use my iPad for instead of lugging my laptop around:

    Surfing tech forums that are blocked at work to troubleshoot computer problems my coworkers have – can’t actually do this with the laptop, unless I get a 3g card
    Checking/sending e-mail around the house
    Watch movies/tv anywhere
    Sketch/paint in artstudio – would need a tablet for this
    Check the weather in the morning
    Read books and comics
    Some basic songwriting
    Amazon shopping – this is dangerously easy…

    There’s more, but much of this stuff I do at my desk with a laptop sitting right there…

    I run Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu on my MBP, but the only thing I use it for now is WoW and software development… and I’m getting sick of WoW.

    Oh, board games with my wife, again, anywhere. Just set it between us and it’s just like a game table.

  16. You got me thinking. For sure this is what my mom needs. No mouse, simple touch typing, access to email and web, and not from a desk, but in her LazyBoy chair. Perfect. No question.

  17. I have an iPad, and I would absolutely NOT recommend the device to my Mom, for the following reasons.

    Browsing the Internet on the iPad is like browsing the Internet on your phone. Most websites do not display correctly on the iPad. I can already hear my Mom asking me “How come I can’t view this video someone emailed me? How come Facebook chat doesn’t work?” Even the videos on the front page of Yahoo don’t play. She is too used to this content to simply give it up.
    You have to pay for any decent apps. My Mom definitely isn’t going to want to put her credit card information into iTunes (which you have to do even to access free content) to access content that can be found online for free. She isn’t going to want to pay for an iStock application when Yahoo & Google are both free.
    Typing on the iPad is slow and awkward on the wrists. My Mom would be much more comfortable with a keyboard.
    The screen on the iPad is impossible to read in the sun, so it isn’t appropriate as an eBook reader. The Kindle is much easier on the eyes, and you don’t have to pay a monthly fee to access books via the cellular network. However, I think my mom still would opt to borrow books from her friends than read from a Kindle.
    You can’t print from the iPad (easily). My mom loves printing coupons.

    The media has downplayed the importance of the lack of Flash on the iPad, and unfortunately this is the main dealbreaker of why I wouldn’t recommend the iPad to my Mom. Try using an online vehicle configurator for any popular automaker on the iPad (My Mom is currently shopping for a new Buick) – it doesn’t work. Checking stocks via Yahoo or Google finance doesn’t work. Facebook chat doesn’t work. Videos from our local newspaper’s website don’t play on the iPad.

    The vast majority of interactive web-content doesn’t display on the iPad, and for this reason alone I wouldn’t recommend the device to anyone – especially my Mom.

    • Those are some great points, Ryan. The lack of flash is a big deal if your mom uses sites with a lot of Flash, and the printing problem is one I hadn’t even thought of.

      In some ways, I think Apple missed the boat a little on their market. People are using the iPad as an honest-to-goodness computer as opposed to a device, which I don’t think Apple expected. In that context, printer support seems like a no-brainer, now that you mention it. I wonder if that’ll be coming soon to an iPad near you.

      Regarding the keyboard, though, an iPad keyboard could solve that problem. Your mom would lose some portability if she only wanted to use it with a keyboard, but it would at least help.

    • Jason Harris

      This sums up what I was going to say much more eloquently.

      My mom goes online to chat with her friends, type facebook messages, and play facebook games.

      The iPad has to be held in one hand and you type with the other, which is going to make her awkward and uncomfortable very quickly when typing a lot.

      Facebook games are all in Flash, and Apple has declared war on Flash.

      Basically, it’s a great device for consuming, but the more you use it for interacting, the more it’s going to become a chore. I don’t want to type a long e-mail on a touch screen, and I can bet my mom wants to even less.

      It’s a testament to the strength of Apple’s following and their cool in the marketplace that the device is selling as strongly as it is, but it’s basically a “pull up a quick website on the couch” computer. Trying to fit it in to replace a full computer will work for a bit, and then people run into things they can’t do, go back to their regular computer and realize the iPad is collecting dust.

      For the type of person who keeps a laptop on the coffee table for random browsing? It can replace that laptop for sure. For everyone else? I think we’ll be seeing a lot of buyer’s remorse.

    • Alejandro Perez

      I use Facebook Chat all the time on my Iphone via Facebook app, I really doubt the Ipad can’t handle it. I really haven’t used an Ipad still waiting for it to get to my country.

      • There isn’t an iPad facebook app – just the one for the iPhone. You can chat in facebook with the iPhone application, it looks terrible though.

        The point is, the chat functionality works fine on the website when accessed from a computer, and it doesn’t work on the iPad unless you run it in a separate application. It works fine every other device (even my phone!)

        Want to browse facebook while chatting? Can’t do that on an iPad.

    • Your Mom seems like a PC mom ;-) Or you can let her play a few minutes with an iPad at an Apple Store and see what goes… Maybe she’ll be ready to change some habits and enjoy other ways of “computing”.

      The first iPad is out since less than two months. I bet that all main web sites and services will have a Flash alternative very soon (things are evolving at a fast pace on that front). And new features are already on their way (SJ wrote printing is one of them) with next OS iteration, based on iPhone OS 4, and scheduled for fall. During that time she already can enjoy a virus-free and symantec/norton-free platform, a flash ads-free browsing experience and thousands of cheap or free applications that she can choose and install without your help.

      Well… the thing is for now it seems next to impossible to get an iPad as all retailers are out of stock ! ;-)

    • Based on your description of your moms requirements, the iPad does not meet her needs. Maybe a latop or desktop computer. But neither of those meet the last requirement of being able to read a book while sitting out in bright sunlight so I’m not sure what you think your mom needs.

    • Miles

      Ok, I just can’t let this go. Bottom line, your argument is akin to fussing about not being able to haul dirt with a Ferrari. If it doesn’t fit the need, then it’s not the right tool.

      None of my older relatives have a Facebook account, let alone do they worry about not being able to watch a video on it. I’m going to guess you set an account up for her. Otherwise, you’re trying to convince me that she’s fully prepared to submit all matter of personal information to Facebook, but she won’t buy an app online??? I agree with Negroponte some years ago that a credit card online feels safer than handing it over to some waiter that takes it in back to process it.

      So she needs a few apps to manage her stocks? Then do what I’d do for my mom. Buy the iPad, set it up and install the apps she’ll need. configure her email and bookmarks, and be done with it. I’d have less support issues and my mom would have something that just works. If she needed more than what the iPad provides, then I buy her a laptop.

      Seriously? Reading it in the sun? I keep hearing about how the iPad is “impossible” to read outdoors. I wonder how many people that know how to adjust the brightness have actually tried it. I have, and it works very well. More to the point, if I’m out in the sun, I’m not worried about reading – anything. I agree that lying under an umbrella on a beach, catching up on the latest no-thought-required “best seller” has certain appeal for some, but for most of us, we’re too busy building sand castles with our kids or enjoying being outside to be concerned about not being able to read an electronic device of any kind. Isn’t that the point of being out in the sun, to get some time away from the screens?

      As to your other points, as someone has already mentioned, get the keyboard, or, from what I understand though haven’t tried, just about any bluetooth keyboard will work. As to printing, there are apps for that, and OS4 is predicted to resolve this point this fall. So flash doesn’t work on the iPad. It hasn’t worked on the iPhone for three years and in that time and millions of users, there hasn’t been enough of an argument to validate that point.

      Anyone that is looking for an iPad for an older relative, or for that matter, anything for anyone, should consider the needs of the user that the device should cover. If an iPad won’t do it, fine. Get what will and don’t rant about perceived shortcomings of a device that doesn’t meet your criteria. So she can’t configure a Buick online. How often does she buy a new car? I could have just as easily expounded upon how a spoon doesn’t function as well as a fork. If it doesn’t work for you, or more to the point, for your mother, then don’t get one. Do your mom a favor and don’t let your prejudice get in the way of what would work for her.

      • Clarkson

        Ya, clearly you can’t let it go – you wrote a fucking essay. Get a life, the guy has great points, stop tearing it apart piece by piece. Fuck I hate people on the internet.

    • Michael

      Actually, you can access free content in the iTunes store without ever providing credit card information. Just enter the store without an account, select a free app to install, and in the following window select “create account”. The screen that pops up then has an additional payment method labelled “none”.
      This feature is documented on the Apple forums somewhere, and it was set up just for people like your mom who would never enter their credit card information in an online system.

  18. Steven

    I can’t decide if to buy a Mac Book Pro 13″ or buy a Mac Mini along with an Ipad. I mainly use my computer for surfing, I-tunes, pictures, etc. I would also have to buy a monitor if I went with the Mac Mini. Anyone know when the Mac Mini is due for an update?

  19. Sadie

    This article reeks of sexism. Who are you to proclaim that my mother has nothing more substantial to do with computers than trivial housewife distractions? Why wouldn’t dad love the simplicity of the iPad?

      • moleskinegurl

        I agree with Sadie. As a techie who happens to be female, reading articles like this one that reinforce stereotypes can be downright disheartening.

        Aside from the (hopefully inadvertent) sexism, I thought it was a good article :-)

    • Tsubame

      Really? Would it be sexism if he said ‘dad’ instead too? Or would you really want him typing ‘mom/dad/ ‘him/her’ everytime?

      Or would that be offensive to the hermaphrodites or transvestite parents out there? I think the point remains the same, the gender doesn’t exactly matter here.

      • Spoken like someone who has no clue the sexism women experience in regards to technology. Sadie and Moleskinegurl have right pointed out the article is sexist. The article is good about looking at the ipad from the view of its niche market, but using the tasteless marketing scheme to get people to look at the post, while effective I suppose, doesn’t make it any less tastless.

  20. alexis

    great article…this is what I am talking about…if you continue to place those other articles pretty much begging for money from your readers then they will not be able to read such great writing like this one because they will be gone

    think about it

  21. Indeed, this was the first thought I had when I saw the iPad. This is also the computer for people who used want to email and browse a bit on the Internet.
    Switch it on and it works, browse, email and shut down. I showed my mother an iPhone and she was able to use it in minutes, opposite to other mobiles. The iPad will be her next computer. No more calls from her the PC (windows) is not working, or will not shut down or takes ages to start.

    • thenikjones

      I don’t understand how anyone can use an iPad as their only computer. I get how easy they are to use so they would be fine for email and web browsing.
      But how do you get your music and pictures onto the device? Sure, you can buy media from the iTunes store but all those CDs you have at home, how do you get them on without using a computer?
      Someone can only use this as their only computer if they rely on someone else to do this grunt work for them. In that case, why not get them to set up a laptop for you?

  22. Kaydee

    I doubt my mom-in-law, specifically would be able to use an iPad. She can’t even use a dish-washer or book a hotel room without seriously hand-holding, much less do anything on a computer. Some people just don’t have the capacity to learn even the simplest things. But she’s in the minority. My own mother would loooove it; Windows always confuses her. There is definitely a market segment for the iPad, “moms” being one of them. I’m a techy, but I love the iPad because it fits in my purse easily, and I generally don’t do anything but surf when I’m out and about.

    • I dunno, give your mother-in-law some credit. She might actually love the device.

      If she can’t grasp the concept of touching a giant, candy-like “Mail” button to read/send emails, you might want to think about taking her to the doctor.

      A 2-year old can understand this most basic of concepts.

  23. Cubed

    My mom has an iPad 3G. Just saw her last week. She was showing me how it interfaces with her favorite knitting website and how she can download knitting patterns onto it.

    • Sounds like your ex-mother-in-law is smack in the middle of Apple’s target market for the iPad: she needs something that’s more than a phone, but also simpler than a regular ol’ desktop computer.

      Apple is eerily good at defining and building new markets, and Luddite-cum-Early-Adopter looks like it’s next in line.

  24. MIke2078

    Chapeau – Very good article! This is exactly how I feel about the iPad. My granny does not touch a computer because it’s too complicated – all these files and folder things are weird to her.
    But she does understand how to touch a mail icon and what “compose mail” means… so this is a big chance for granny to get more in touch with her family via Email or to write down her memoirs.

    To people afraid of technology (there’s a whole generation of them) the iPad is is a blessing!!