iPad in the Twitterverse
By Tony Kontzer
It's déjà vu all over again.
Less than three years ago, Apple revolutionized the mobile phone market with the introduction of the original iPhone, and now Steve Jobs & Co. are banking that the iPad will do the same to the e-reader market. Or is it the gaming market? Or the netbook market? Or the social networking market?
And therein lies the difference: With the iPhone, there was a specific market to revolutionize. The iPad, however, needs to be too many things to too many people to have the same impact. The hundreds of thousands of iPad sales over the weekend don't provide much of a measuring stick--they represent assured sales to the Apple diehards. In fact, most of the reviews of the iPad I've read--even those written by journalists who are clearly taken with the device's seductive qualities--see lots of reason for skepticism.
Time Magazine or Slate, for instance, both wonder if the iPad is really needed. MSNBC went much further, providing a pretty compelling list of shortcomings. (Perhaps all of the above read my post on the topic two months ago?)
Of course, all of the journalistic feedback in the world pales in comparison with the response of the buying public. And where better to gauge that than on Twitter? Which brings us to my newest edition of Twit Digest, a series of periodic attempts to distill technology news through the Twitter universe.
When I checked on what Twitterers were saying about the iPad Monday, posts were going up at the staggering rate of 10,000 an hour. Many were banal marketing messages about iPad giveaway scams. A healthy chunk were the rants of Apple fanatics who clearly would buy a bag of uranium from an Apple store if it were available in the right colors. But a few observations rose above the noise. Here's what they had to say:
- The first post that caught my eye coming from user jlnelson711, who wrote, "Sitting next to a guy who has the new iPad. He is trading stocks in class...that thing is sharp!" Then I remembered--people trade stocks on their cell phones every day. Nothing new there.
- Another tweet from drebarnes hinted at skepticism even amongst Apple fanatics: "I have to admit, I love Apple, I have two of their products, but I am not feeling the iPad. I would buy it for my mother, however." Buy it for my mother? Ouch. Not exactly the sales hook Apple has in mind.
- WndrWmn poses this rhetorical: "If you're going to hook up a keyboard to your iPad, what's the point?!" My sentiments exactly. And if you want to skip the keyboard, good luck typing on the touch screen with the iPad's smooth, curved back causing the thing to slide and rock on a table top. Oh, but wait, there are accessories to address all of these problems!
- Later, an astute user named astaraell spotted an iPad being used in a surprisingly high-profile sighting: "Ugggh. No joke, Duke coach was using an iPad. Didn't want them to win in the first place, now even less. Really, I wanted MSU." Wait a second--the NCAA Final Four was played the day the iPad was released, and a coach was using it on national TV already? Sounds like a suspiciously quick learning curve to me.
- Then, after passing several posts from obvious Apple fans waxing about how they can't wait to play with one, Tweeter scottsimpson posted: "People think I'm using my iPad to surf the internet. It's not even on. I'm just staring at myself. Killer app." Ironically, this seems to be the iPad's main appeal initially--as a shiny toy to show off and validate oneself.
Finally, user stefandevries chimed in with this: "Any medium or journalist still reporting on the iPad today is sooooo last week." That's me: Soooo last week. And--in the words of Maxwell Smart--loving it.