After years of speculation, Apple finally released a tablet computer yesterday called the iPad. There was fanfare! There was rejoicing!
There was also much criticism: everything from it doesn’t have a camera or USB port to it doesn’t support Flash or HDMI out to it doesn’t let you multi-task. In 24 hours we have dozens of reasons why the iPad will fail in the marketplace.
But what if the iPad simply isn’t for the people who are critiquing it? What if the experience the Apple designers have in mind isn’t the one the tech writers and bloggers have been dreaming about for a half-decade? What if you, early-adopter geek fanperson, aren’t actually the target audience?
Humans suffer from a subjective viewpoint. We see the universe with us at the center of it. It’s almost impossible to gauge anything outside of our own desires…when we size up a new gadget such as the iPad we consider first and foremost: “What good is it TO ME?”.
User experience designers, however, cannot long suffer this fate. We must design (and hopefully critique other designs) from a more objective viewpoint.
As our initial subjective viewpoint fades, we might consider the iPad anew. Judging from the videos and early reviews, it makes many common activities very easy such as email, watching videos, and sharing photos. So let’s ask: “Who out there, what market, is this attractive to?”
The iPad is attractive to people for whom a laptop is overkill. Many spouses, parents, siblings, and children in our lives do not use computers in the same way we do. They are likely the primary audience for this device…the people who don’t need single pixel precision but can get by on single finger precision. They may use the iPad in the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, even the bathroom. But they probably won’t use it in the office…
As designers and critics we must get out of our own head. Subjectivity, our inability to see as others do, can be a cruel master.