the ipad is the family computer // 27 Jan 2010

My quick take on the iPad: this really is an entirely new class of device. Not because of the form factor (neat!) or the technology (fast!) or the vertically integrated content distribution channel (smart!). Instead, the iPad is something new because of its intended use. I see the iPad not as the next evolution of the personal computer, but instead the beginning of the family computer.*

It looks like a great machine to travel from the living room to the kitchen to the kids room to the bedroom. We'll search the web on it, read the news on it, the kids will do email on it, play Brushes and Bejeweled on it, and it'll be the perfect complement to the Sunday afternoon TV football ritual. We'll use it to control the music in the house, and do some quick bet-settling during dinner. I'm sure we'll eventually enjoy some multiplayer "board" games on it, or read a book on it, or watch a TV show on it. And the kids will argue with each other over who gets it next. (Dad will.)

Essentially, this is already how my iPhone gets used when I'm at home. So a family iPhone with a bigger screen? Sign us up.

* To be clear, I define "family" in the most expansive How Berkeley-Can-You-Be kind of way. I thought about using the term "social" computer, but the term "social" has been so deeply coopted to imply "social networking" or "social media" that it just doesn't fit here. Yes, of course you'll use the iPad to do those things, but that's not what I mean in defining the device this way. Thus "family," which implies lots of things, including multiple individuals living under one roof, sharing things with one another. It's my lens, and I'm seeing through it.