I had a chance to attend ipaddevcamp last weekend at the Paypal offices in San Jose. Great event, some great keynotes, and some amazing people in attendance.
One of the speeches that really stood out for me was the one given by Flurry / Pinch media. In short, Flurry (who merged with Pinch media this year) helps gather usage metrics for application developers. As such, they’re swimming in data which shows how and what users are using their iPads and iPhones for.
Flury presented some pretty interesting usage metrics. Most of it which aren’t that surprising.
- iPad sessions are on average 2~3X as long as those on the iPhone
- iPad game, video and book sessions are about 10X as long as those on the iPhone
- iPad book sessions average about an hour. (I was a bit surprised it was that long)
One stat that was a bit of a surprise to me was that social app usage on the iPad was far less than on the iPhone. They attributed this to the lack of social apps on the iPad. But I have to disagree with this explanation. I think social apps are all about quick interactions consuming or producing content. Quickly check twitter while you’re waiting in line. Check into gowalla when you enter starbucks. Look at your facebook stream while you’re waiting for the light to turn green, upload a photo to flickr that you just shot. The iPhone is perfect for this type of quick consumption and generation of content.
So I think Steve Job’s was right that there’s a market for a device situated between the mobile device and your laptop. It’s all about the hour you have to kill while sitting in the airport, sitting on the sofa as opposed to the 10 second interaction perfect for the iPhone and the 4 hours you have with you laptop. The iPad has it’s flaws, but to me the tablet fills this hole perfectly … and Flurry’s analytics seem to reinforce this.
Yes, I’m a bit of a tech gadget geek. I own way too many toys for my own good, But 99% of the time I don’t think the hype lives up to my latest toy.
Despite it’s ridiculous and never ending hype, my iPad has exceeded my expectations.
It’s not the Version 1 of the iPad … but it’s the computing shift that it so obviously represents. The iPad has it’s short comings – a keyboard that’s still only about 30% as effective as a real one … limited multi tasking … just to name a few. But these are minor notes … and are gonna be washed away in future hardware and software updates.
What do I really like about it?
1. Limited device, all your apps and data
It’s been several years since we’ve been talking about dumbed down devices that connect to your media and applications hosted in the cloud. I was reminded today that we were looking at doing this 4 years ago at Saflink with the miValet project. But the iPad is the first device that really nails this. It’s a limited device (crummy CPU, memory and hard drive space), but it gives you access to apps and content hosted from the cloud. The iPhone was a step in this direction too, but lacked the screen real estate to really allow you to consume your content.
2. Usable multi touch
While multi touch has been around since the iPhone, it’s finally usable with the iPad. The set of supported gestures is rich, given the extra space. Not only can an individual manipulate the interface, but multiple people can interact on the device at the same time.
3. Intuitive interaction using multi touch
To me this is the big one. I often forget what a barrier the mouse is between a user and the computer. We’re accustomed to it, but when you think about it, it’s a completely unnatural medium between you and the machine. Try to teach someone who’s never seen a computer (good luck with that) how to use a mouse and you’ll see how bizarre the mouse is. On the contrary, manipulating the user interface using touch and gesture is just so natural. Treating objects in the UI as if they were real objects just makes sense. Flip pages in books by … flipping pages in a book. Steer the racing car by … steering the iPad …. sign your name on a document by … signing your name on the document with your finger. The list goes on and on. I was reminded of how natural the interface is when my friends 4 year old got a hold of my iPad. Sure … kids these days … even 4 year olds are pretty good with a computer …. but I was amazed how quickly he picked up using the iPad.
OK … I’m done my apple fan-boy-ism …. I swear I’m not a fan-boy, but this device is awesome.