Whether you’re a die-hard Apple fan or a PC-loving naysayer, chances are you’ve heard about the iPad by now. Apple’s latest gadget hit stores April 3, with droves of early-adopters waiting hours in line to buy one.
Personally, I was sleeping that morning. I haven’t rushed out to grab an iPad yet for several reasons: first, I’m a poor college student; second, I like to wait until Apple releases the second generation of a product so I get the version with fewer inherent kinks; third, I simply cannot see where this new product would fit into my life — at this point.
Yes, the iPad has a sleeker design and prettier graphics than the other readers available on the market now, like Amazon’s Kindle. Yes, it can e-mail. And, like the iPhone, it will have an app for just about everything, although many iPad applications are still in development. For me, the gap between cell phone and computer is not a large enough void that I feel as though I need this tool. Yet.
I could change my mind, though. I think the big issue is not what the iPad is or does now but what it will become in the future. Bloggers and communications professionals are already pondering the implications of this new technology. Some critics have said this tool is a step back in technological development; in an age where everything is becoming increasingly hands-on, the iPad offers little opportunity for production of content or interaction among users.
In its current state, the iPad is less about creation and more about consumption; people now have the opportunity to virtually subscribe to magazines and publications that traditionally appeared in print. Some are calling the iPad a revolution and a savior for dying print media, while others focus on the iPad’s potential effects on advertising within these print media.
After examining the opinions of the host of critics chiming in about the iPad, I’ve concluded that there’s nothing conclusive at this point. As Brian Morrissey said in a blog for AdWeek, we “would be advised to channel [our] inner Donald Rumsfeld,” who infamously said, “There are known unknowns. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.”
My point is that we’re not entirely sure what the iPad means for media and public relations as of yet. And we’re not sure what it will evolve into over the coming months and years. It could be a fleeting fad that fizzles out as quickly as it came, or it could be the next big technological revolution.
As PR professionals, we can’t automatically assume either end will come to fruition. But we shouldn’t simply ignore the iPad while we wait to see what will become of it. Instead, we must watch cautiously, observe and learn as much as we can about the development and uses for this new tool and be ready for any outcome.
If the iPad is a game-changer, it won’t be changing the game overnight. But if the game does change after all, will you be prepared?