For the religious, this past weekend was Easter. For the Apple faithful, it was iPad launch weekend. Since I attended the iPad Announcement Event, I had the opportunity to use the device before the general public; so, buying it was not a problem, finding a place from which to buy it was! Currently, Rae and I are on the other side of the United States screening our documentary film Autumn Gem! Knowing that I would be in Boston, I skipped the initial pre-order rush and scheduled my iPad to arrive in the second batch of shipments on 4/12. As with any big Apple release, however, I found myself restless on Friday night. The apartment in which we were staying was only 2 blocks away from the Apple Store in Cambridge. What reason was there not to go there in the morning or camp out with the rest of the Apple faithful? The weather here in Massachusetts and Boston has been fantastic over the past few days, unlike the wet and cold conditions seen back in the Bay Area.
So, this was how I found myself waking up at 4:00am to walk over to the store. I soon realized that things play out differently at this Apple Store than my local ones. For starters, the doors to the mall were locked, and there was no one else waiting to get in! Contrast this with the Palo Alto and Valley Fair locations, where people were lining up the day before to be the first to get their iPads.
So, I went back to the apartment, did some work and slept for an hour until 7:30 am. Despite there being a little over an hour to the launch, there were only a handful of people in both the reserved and non-reserved iPad lines! I figured most people arrived at the store to get in line at 7:00am. I guess the shortage was due to several factors: (1) the ability to pre-order and have the product shipped to your house, (2) the fact that the hype was not as big as the original iPhone. Furthermore, the iPad is a device you have to see and feel to understand, it’s not something like a cellphone which everyone has. Back in 2007, it was easy to understand why the iPhone was so much better than the crappy phones we were all carrying at the time. While the iPhone was an easy sell, the iPad for many people posed more questions than answers.
I was in and out of the Apple Store in 40 minutes by the time the doors opened at 8:55am. Everyone in line got their own Apple Specialist to assist them with the purchase. I ended up buying the case and the VGA adapter for two reasons: (1) I needed some case protection for the iPad when I stuff it into my backpack and (2) I planned to run our Autumn Gem tour presentation using the iPad during one of our remaining (and future) screenings.
Probably the biggest question regarding the iPad is why buy it in the first place? Do you need an iPad when you have a laptop and a phone? What is this third class of mobile devices that Steve Jobs… err… Apple is trying to sell us? How is the iPad better than a netbook? I’m going to end up answering this question in a somewhat roundabout way. In the coming weeks, there’ll no doubt be plenty of bloggers and writers coming up with interactive charts and scorecards comparing the iPad with various devices. Instead, what I will talk about is how I view the iPad through the prism of being involved with mobile computing for the past seventeen years.
And, seeing that I was in Newton, Massachusetts the other night for a screening, it’s only appropriate that I mention Apple’s first handheld computer, the Newton, at this point.