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Technically Geeking: It’s Magical?

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a blogumn by Justin Time

iPad

I’d be remiss as a pretend tech blogger if I didn’t talk about the iPad this week. You may not want to hear another word about the latest prophecy from his Jobs-ness, in which case, watch the MadTV video. At the risk of sounding like a zealot or, even worse, an Apple fanboy, I believe that this device will change everything. But here’s why I defend my reputation against being a brainless fanboy who will buy anything Apple just because it’s shiny and emits a pulsating glow…

Apple didn’t invent anything new here. 1) Tablet computers have been around for about 5 years. 2) It’s really just a giant iPhone… without a phone… or a camera. 3) It’s just like an Amazon Kindle, but with a real actual hardware company behind it. 4) The low price with built-in Internet access is the reason why netbooks have done so well the past two years.

So if it’s no huge innovation why do I think it will change everything? ¬†First, some evolutionary history.

Desktop computers used to tie us to our desks. When I was a kid, you went to the computer lab or the library to use a computer. You carried your data with you on floppy disks, which hopefully didn’t get exposed too much sunlight or warmth or liquids, otherwise you could lose three years of research.

Notebook computers and large hard drives set us free. We went out into the world, bought a latte, and surfed the web on our lappies. The drawback was carrying around 6 pounds of metal and glass is tiresome and we tend to break things by repeatedly dropping them on hard surfaces.

Then came the iPhone, not just a phone but a smartphone, but not one of those that only a geek could love. It puts the Internet in our pocket. It isolates each application into its own little walled garden, preventing viral infections, slow performance, and constant crashing. We can customize our user experience with over a hundred thousand applications that are insanely easy to buy and install and which are anxiously awaiting our greasy fingers. We leave the laptop at home when we go to the cafe, as it’s easy enough to check email and facebook on our little glass palettes. Still, it is a pain to type on, and watching a movie, reading a book, even playing a game (like Bananagrams) can be frustrating. When I’m sitting on the couch, I wish my iPhone was big… and had a real keyboard.

So those geniuses at Apple gave us what we want. But the question is – what does it mean for the future? Will desktop and laptop computers fade into the minority of the computing world? They already have. Should you sell your laptop and buy an iPad? No, but if you get an iPad, I bet your laptop gets jealous, as you spend less and less time with it and eventually you put it in a closet somewhere in case you need it from time to time. It does not make calls or do video chat, but it will, I’d guess within¬†in one year. So your grandma will buy one and plug it in by the old landline, so she can video chat with you and occasionally look at a YouTube you sent her. Women will carry the iPad in their purse (not that iPad), and a smaller version will be made for men that fits into their jacket pockets (and/or jacket pockets will get larger).

I’m not saying it’s just going to be Apple. Hell no and Hallelujah! Android has already been working on similar tablet devices, Windows has been all over the tablet scene forever, and Nokia too. But the reason this is a game changer is because of the integration of the media – the music, videos, books, and most of all, apps – are all going to be easy to get. The entire desktop computer experience will be wrapped up into a small but usable device, that can adapt to the user. And all the other guys will be trying to replicate that. The only one I’d bet on at this point is Android. Apple is the new Microsoft, and Google is the new Apple. Welcome to bizarro 1999.