Let me start with a quick confession. I am King Hypocrite.
Until about 5am of the day of the iPad launch, I wasn’t going to get an iPad. Since it’s late January announcement I’d been one of the naysayers, who focused on the things it couldn’t do (Flash, multitasking, install apps from anywhere, no physical keyboard, it’s just a giant iPod Touch). My vision for the iPad was as a personal video and entertainment device – one where I could pull up NetFlix Instant Streaming, watch a bunch of streaming TV shows, and movies. I saw it as the ideal platform for watching video. Yes, you can do this on a laptop with Flash, but, to me, the keyboard was this weird mental barrier in a purely psychological way. A physical keyboard said to me, implicitly, that this was an instrument of work first, which happened to play video and music and movies. In many cases, the delivery device was a webpage, which meant there were artifacts and links and barriers around the actual content. The experience wasn’t immersive. Consumption had barriers that were just difficult to overcome.
Well, no Flash, meant most online video was out. This left the iTunes video store as the only way to get most content, parceled out at $1.99/$2.99/$3.99 per download. No thanks, I thought, I’ll stick with cable.
I saw its Kindle fighting potential as a way to read books too. It appeared as if the only way to do that was too through the iTunes “iBooks” store. I actually thought my experience with the Kindle iPhone app was not terrible, but, yes, it was harder to read an entire book on a device so small. And there didn’t appear to be any potential for an iPad one.
So, come March 30, I was pretty much deadset against buying an iPad. And, that was it.
So, what happened?
Starting around April 1 came news that NetFlix would be offering an iPad app to watch instant streaming. Gamechanger. Not soon, after, ABC announced their player app, and CBS announced that select episodes of their shows would be available to iPad users as well. Hulu’s app is likely forthcoming. Check. (Not surprisingly, NBC changed their mind about offering their shows to the iPad. Another classic move by a company who just can’t seem to stop shooting themselves in the foot)
And then Amazon announced their iPad optimized Kindle app. Check. And newspapers started to unveil their apps.
I saw fun games like Flight Control HD, and the fact that OmniGraffle, my favorite wireframing application would be available. And Keynote, Pages and Numbers would have iPad app as well. This could be something I could use in my class to replace my laptop. This could be a great personal entertainment system and a whole lot of other things.
That’s when one word started to flood my consciousness was one word – potential. This is the real selling point of the iPad, that’s really hard to explain to the masses. That this could really be anything you wanted it to be – for an hour or two a day.
So, in the excitement, there I was, at 6am, with my girlfriend, who heartily endorsed this idea, on my way to be a part of a throng of people, waiting in line for a device I could get a week later waith no issues. I wanted to be part of the Hollywood like experience of it all. I figured, if I was going to be King Hypocrite, I may as well have fun with it.
Reporters seemed to think that I looked like i knew what i was talking about, so I did some short interviews with NHK, some Indian network, WCBS 880 and got quoted in PC World and by the local NBC affiliate.
So, that filled the bulk of the two and half hours I waited. We were also joined by a good friend, Mashable COO’s Adam Hirsch, who was great to hang out with and talk to.
But, it was idle time until Gizmodo brought gift bags for the first 50 or so in line. Unfortunately, I missed out on those (there appeared to be really great swag in there).
But the reality of it all really set in when I saw someone who as before me in line, who had already gotten theirs, playing with an iPad one the street, and I was instantly extremely excited for the first time.
And just like that, it was go time. Nine A.M. came, and the crowd was orderly ushered into the store, through a gauntlet of cheering Apple employees. Never have I experienced such a thrill just going to buy a computer product before. We were ushered downstairs to a second queue, where Apple with their personal Point of Sale devices were waiting. I got two iPads, one for me (32GB), and one for my girlfriend (16GB), who I knew would have been pretty sad without one!
The whole purchasing process was done in about 5 minutes. Two iPads, two Incase Neoprene Sleeves, a dock connector to VGA adapter and we were done (They didn’t have the keyboard dock in stock, and won’t for a few weeks).
I’ve never seen people so ravenously excited – off in the center, was a throng of people, ripping open the box to get started with their iPads.
Out back through the crowd of clapping Apple employees and we were done.
We did some errands around midtown after the purchase, and rather than be the object of a million demos from onlookers, and a likely mark from crooks, we left the iPads in our Apple bag until we got home. But, after we turned on the device, we were both pretty floored but what it could do, and the quality of the first generation of iPhone apps.
Books? Yeah, we got that. iBookstore, Kindle App, Google Books, Free Books App.
TV? Yeah, got that too. ABC Player , CBS with Survivor for now, Hulu coming.
Movies? NetFlix, of course.
News? Still a bit stingy, but free apps from USA Today, NY Times and Wall Street Journal all look nice. NPR has a great app for audio broadcasts.
Games? Flight Control HD and Scrabble.
The iPad is certainly an amazing content consumption platform, but it’s an even better at being a chameleon. It’s the most immersive device I’ve ever seen, and it will change the game. Does it have shortcomings? Sure. But, the potential upside is nothing short of amazing. It’s a device that only works because of the times. It’s made major media companies bow to their knees. The question really is – are YOU in or are YOU out?