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Jeff Jarvis And Parsons' Students Agree on iPad--It's For Consuming Media, Not Creating It.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on April 06, 2010

When Apple first announced the iPad, I asked students at Parsons what they thought of it and they immediately said it was for consumption, not creation of content. No camera, no USB, no flash—not much to remix and make. They weren’t going to buy it. Maybe their parents would to watch TV and read newspapers.

I just read Jeff Jarvis this morning on the iPad and he totally agrees and goes further, saying that it is perfect for the mainstream media giants and Apple who are into controlling content and selling it. In fact, Jarvis says it’s a throwback to another era before the net was democratized and we all got the tools to make our own content. “The iPad is retograde,” he says on his blog. “It turns us all back into an audience again.”

Now I don’t mind being an audience from time to time. I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on Kindle. I watch Damages on cable. I see Avatar in 3D in the movies. But I don’t need another expensive screen to do that. I also love to create online with blogging, tweeting, connecting, mixing, collaborating. Until Apple upgrades and opens up the iPad, I won’t be able to do the generative thing on that screen.


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Reader Comments

Pete Mortensen

April 6, 2010 05:21 PM

I think Jarvis is really over-stating the case here, and that your students might change their minds once they use an iPad.

It is possible to directly import photos and video to the iPad, and there's a really solid photo editor available via the App Store. Apple doesn't offer an iPad version of iLife yet, but there are amazing music remixing applications already, and it will be the weapon of choice for many laptop DJs in the near future.

And with the new Wordpress app, it's entirely possible to use as a mobile blogging platform. The lack of a camera is an issue, but it's entirely possible to save photos direct from the web and use those on posts. In all honesty, there's nothing about the iPad that makes it less good for creating content than any of the other tablets on the market, such as some of the new Windows 7 tablets the PC-makers are rolling out. It might even be better, as its UI was built from the ground up for touch instead of being tweaked from a desktop interface to be used for touch.

Only time will tell, but I think many of the people saying the iPad is too locked down to be useful for more than consumption will be surprised in the next couple of years.

Justin Howley

April 6, 2010 08:41 PM

Excellent! Well said. Just a means for the iTunes store to sell more, Apps, music, movies, books and junk. Retrograde is an understatement, maybe cell phone makers will bring back the LARGE phone look also.

Dan McKenzie

April 6, 2010 09:25 PM

Respectful of everyone's opinion, I think we're missing the potential for app developers to create something special for this device. There are applications that will be designed and built that we have yet to imagine! In short, I think it's way too early to define what the iPad is.

Ali Khan

April 7, 2010 12:29 PM

Just because iMac, iPod and iPhone were successful and masses were flocked like cult, there is no guarantee that iPad will survive. Consumers are getting sophisticated by day. Apple like any other software / hardware manufacturer likes to milk the market by making consumers wait for the next year. Well, time is now or never. If something better comes up, consumers will move to that. As like any other company, Apple is also prone to failures. That can be seen when Apple introduced its PC late in the game or Apple Newton or dilution of Apple's intrinsic value by allowing the licensing for volume profiting. Should I need to go further? By no means other readers should think that I am in PC camp or cynical, I bought my sixth Mac recently and I am hard-core user. But there should be some realistic perspective of what it is going to be used for and what consumers are expecting of it. To simply put, Apple's PR campaign backfired.

steve baker

April 7, 2010 04:08 PM

Bruce, I think a lot of the discussion (and criticism) of the iPad is based on the questionable assumption that it's going to be people's only computing device. I bet if you surveyed the people who have bought it, including me (I ordered one), you'd find that they have numerous other devices on hand to create content, if and when inspiration strikes. True, the iPad's limitations might might mean that the new machine is not going to provide computing for the "next billion," or, as some have predicted, replace the laptop. I think of it as a gadget for the world's "haves"--sort of like the iPhone.


April 7, 2010 07:01 PM

My understanding is that the ability to create on the iPad hinges on the sophistication of the apps that reside on it and the ability to task switch.

The nature of the touch interface will push to app developers to become more intuitive in app design, while the screen real estate entices more complexity. The price premium for iPad apps is certainly an incentive to balance the two. iWork apps are a great example.

Multitasking capability is fundamental to allowing people to multi-thread between generative app's, web, video, and image content.

Combining high functioning and yet intuitive apps with multi-tasking will bridge the device from consumption orientation to generative orientation.

If the iPhone is a derivation of the iPod, it too is a consumption device, yet far more complex. Like the first version iPhone OS, there were no applications or application store, it was consumption and utility oriented. I guess that the iPad will follow a similar development path and evolve a higher level of complexity. Watch out for multi-tasking iPad OS, it will change the iPad from consumption device to generative device!


April 12, 2010 03:53 AM

So what's real innovation? The out-there revolutionary gadget or the machine that makes my mom go online to read her newspaper?

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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