The joy of iPad

115 Comments

Apple(s AAPL) 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(s MSFT), 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.

115 Comments

ari newman

I’m looking forward to the new iPad myself. Skipped the 2 and my kids have taken over the 1st one…

Yogi

Nice Article. My mom & dad who struggled a lot to learn the PC, instantly got hooked to iPad when they visited me in the US. It’s now become their Indian newspaper where they read an Indian newspaper online. I don’t have to explain to use it more often.

Girish

The only thing my 3 year old need is for me to login the passcode. He is on his own then…can swipe, find the netflix app and find his favourite Thomas the train episode and when that bores him goes to the ‘ABC’ app and takes it from there…for us technology was an external stimulus, for kids these days, technology is woven into the fabric of their daily life. And nobody makes it so as Apple’s devices..

Rohit Shankar

Experienced the same few weeks back with my parents. The key is they can figure it out which has not been the case with Windows

Matt Kitchin

Nice story – a change from technology forn echnologys sake…
Is your mum available to give lessons to my folks in Sydney?

Kris

Could not agree more with you. I gifted an iPad to my sister in India last year and was stunned at the ease of use of facebook. The most important thing about the iPad is that it rings like a phone. My 70 year old dad can call me any time, and I get the call on my iphone or ipad wherever I am. More importantly, I can call him anytime, and he does not have to boot the PC at a mutually agreed up on time and start skype etc. I am planning to gift one to my father-in-law now.

John

I am in the same boat. When my mom (she is 78 and has never used a computer) saw the iPad and started using it without any help – that was the moment of my life. My mom could surf the web and play games on a computer and talk to my sister.

Steve Jobs did something that was unique. Lets all hope that Apple will continue to follow his legacy.

Om

One of the BEST POST I have read on gigaom.com.

Going to send this to all my friends.

Very proud of you Om. Great gift to your mom

Bhagya

There is an old saying in India, that the Grandkids are the return on your investment. I’m sure that she sees the ipad as the best tool for her to keep an eye on her investment and enjoy the return. Great Article

Anesh Mistry

Thanks Om for sharing something thats very personal …. I think everyone has a story of how technology helped bring them closer to their loved ones, this is so today and the reference to a windows PC being “not the right tool” should echo to people that still believe that they need a computer/laptop at all.

PBJake

In my opinion, Apple is the only company that makes devices you can give to anyone, without even thinking about their level of expertise, be it a 5-year old or an 80-year old. You just know that the user will somehow “get” how the device works. It’s a true magic of Apple, in Jobs’ words, to create devices very “intuitive”.

Ari

Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of love and opinion.

adityakane

Of all the stuff I have ever read about iPad, this is the best endorsement of iPad I have ever read.

Rafael

As a foreigner living in the US I always had the frustration of not being able to communicate with my elderly parents, except by phone. For years I wanted to be able to Skype with them and send interesting articles I find online to my father. But at 87 years of age, and never having used a computer in his whole life, a Windows PC or even a Mac were out of the question. He would have never learned how to use them and much less how to keep them free of viruses and in good order. The one time I tried to teach him how to use my laptop, we ended up in a fight and frustrated. I thought about giving him a laptop, but shuddered to think what would happen when he would be confronted with the usual dialogs asking him if it’s OK to update this or that program, or that some cryptic error had occurred. And how was I going to keep him safe from viruses, and from him deleting things or changing something important by mistake?

My conclusion was that the only computer I could give my dad was an iPad. As soon as the iPad2 came out I gave one to him and it has been a wonderful experience. He still struggles a bit with learning how to use all the features in the device, but we can Skype and e-mail regularly. He loves reading all the articles and eBooks I send him, and he feels very proud of finally owning and using a computer. It’s wonderful to see how my parents get so excited when we Skype, and I love being able to see their faces and show them people and things, all without worrying that my dad is going to over his head on computer configuration issues, viruses, crashes, and the like. Many other people in my family that had never been interested in computers, because they seemed to them like exceedingly obscure and complicated things, have bought iPads and are using the daily with great satisfaction.

Even though I’m an engineer, trained on microelectronics and programming, I’m tired of the PC using experience being such a pain. Me and my parent want a device that is as easy to use any other appliance to communicate, browse the web, read eBooks, watch movies, etc. I don’t want to feel like I’m working every time I or a relative is using a computer. My vacations back home are spent fixing everybody’s corrupted or infected computers and teaching them how to do certain things in Windows. Steve Jobs understood this better than most Silicon Valley people and that was his genius.

I’m tired of the arrogance of all the techy uber-geek types that abound on-line and in Silicon Valley that think using gadgets should be a test of one’s intelligence and technical prowess. I want my media consumption and communication devices to be as simple to use as any other dumb appliance, just like the iPad is. I can indulge enough my geek side at work, fighting with Windows and engineering design software. No need to do the same at work, and no need to make my parents suffer through it.

Rafael

The last sentence should read “No need to do the same at HOME, …”

EricE

Maybe if people like Brian could check their prejudice and really read your post, Rafael, they might jut understand that it’s not the same or as simple.

Excellent post and echos my own experience with my father. People like Brian have “geek goggles” on – to them the differences between an iPad and a computer (Ubuntu? Seriously?!?) are trivial. Good for them. To the vast majority of humans on this planet the differences are using a tool or not using a tool.

The main difference between Apple and their competitors – Apple focuses on the user and everyone else focuses on the device or tech itself. This is second nature to geeks, but an ocean of difference to normal people.

People like Brian and A S can continue to completely miss the point and wish Apples success a mere fad. I see more anger and frustration in their future. Perhaps when Apple passes the combined market cap of Google, Microsoft and Samsung combined they might take a hint that the issue isn’t Apple or those who like Apple products.

Then again…. Sigh….

Haseeb

I had the same experience when I went back home to Pakistan in December and got my dad an iPad 2. The look of awe and joy on his and my mom’s face when they facetimed with my sisters in different cities in Canada was worth every penny I spent on that iPad.
My cook couldn’t stop laughing, he was so excited and shocked :)

Krish

I would say the best part about a device like iPad is that I don’t have to convince them to use a computer. They just use to get things done. End of story.

Barbara Tofel

Thank you Om for the wonderful story. We can connect too as a similar experience happen with my Mom this year.

Anne

love this! very touching article because I also have given my mother and iPad and she LOVES, LOVES, LOVES it. her happiness is priceless and we have Steve Jobs and Apple to thank for this!

Thomas Gehrke

Good to see that my experience isn’t unusual. I gave my sister’s family (in Florida) and my parents (in Pennsylvania) each an iPad 2 for Christmas. My mother (in her 60’s) was appreciative but apologetically asked if it could be returned because she’s somewhat technophobic. I talked to my dad and explained what my reasoning was for sending something that made it seem like I was completely out of touch with what they wanted or needed.

The reason, in a word, was Facetime. My mom talks to my sister and her grandchildren almost daily. In addition to saving them from a phone bill, the ability to see your loved ones is huge.

A couple weeks later, I got an email from my mom. She was thrilled and basically said that anyone wanting to take her iPad away from her was in for a fight.

Sent from her iPad.

Gaurav Khanna - G

I used to call my folks every Friday on my way to work but now I Facetime every Saturday morning.

Mokey

Very nice piece. I’m very happy that your Mom embraced the technology. My Mom passed away a few years ago. She had grandchildren all over the map. As hard as I tried my Mom refused to try email or video chat. She was afraid! I think if an iPad had been available, it’s ease of use would have won her over. May your Mom have many more years of enjoying her grandchildren.

Andrea

Yes. It makes lives better. Unless of course you are a Chinese factory worker. Read mikedaisey.blogspot.com and tell me if your iPad is worth destroying thousands of people’s lives.

bpgd

Om, agree with you , Apple knows how to make a simple UI. Wait till mom asks you about jail breaking :-),

Mike

It’s pretty cool that Apple has the insight how to make a person’s life easier instead of more complicated like some companies.

Ashu Joshi

This is what stands out, the personal touch in the post, and at the end of day in our lives this is what matters:

“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.”

And that makes me love Om’s writing even more…

Pearse

Lovely story. I had a similar little epiphany with my own mother. At 78 she was pretty set in her ways namely completely apathetic to technology and would never use a pc. We sat with her to show her pictures of our kids on an iPad. We persuaded her just to try it, just swipe your finger to change the picture mom. She did the first one and smiled. Then she did a fantastic thing – she licked her finger and swiped, the same gesture I’ve seen her do a million times with magazines. I couldn’t help but smile. It echoed a normal behavior for her. After that she was hooked. Many people could do touch and gesture, but Apple made it mainstream and an Irish granny very happy.

Xiao Bai

Interesting post, I was always under the impression that Apple sold experiences and and values, based on a lot of their advertising campaigns. But this is actually the first time that I’ve seen someone give a real-world example of the emotions and feelings that Apple packages into its products. As social media and connectivity continues to grow and take over more and more chunks of our time and lives, Apple has increasingly stepped its game up to bring devices that help simplify all these new outlets. This is crucial because Apple basically expanded its demographic markets into almost all age groups, a pretty impressive feat considering all the somewhat technologically-challenged people out there. And your example epitomizes this concept, thanks for sharing!

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