What characteristics make the iPad a disruptive technology?
The iPad is the first device designed from scratch entirely to facilitate the consumption of Internet content.
In contrast, most computers are built to create as well as consume content, yet ordinary people consume content 10x more often than creating content, except when at work. In so far as normal Americans create content, it is fragmented, short-form such as a Facebook status update, a tweet, or a brief email. By stripping down the iPad to the core consumption features and optimising the performance of those, Apple will utterly displace laptops and other computers in the home for many and substitute for between 50-80% of the usage of the computer for those who have both devices.
Specifically, the UI for accessing a website via touch is an order of magnitude enhancement via a mouse/browser. The speed of the device is incomparable, the audio is excellent and the notion of storing a favourite website (whether an iPad app or just a website) via an icon on your homepage makes traditional web navigation feel archaic.
In addition, the form of the device is much more amenable to enjoy in any position other than sitting at a desk, which is a highly unnatural activity at home or when travelling. I can now return to using my sofas and leisure chairs, which is both comfortable and improves my posture and back/shoulder issues.
By complementing the Internet consumption with the convenient consumption of other media (books, video, music, etc), Apple has ensured that no other company can deploy a truly comparable consumption machine.
Pierre Omidyar distills it well with his Tweet: “Yes, I bought an iPad. It’s the most significant consumer computing device since the 1984 Macintosh.”
Keith Rabois is EVP of strategy and business development at Slide. This post was originally published as an answer on Q&A startup Quora and is re-published here with Keith’s permission.
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