iPad: Game-changer?

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?

by Caroline Beard

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8 Comments

Filed under Trends

8 responses to “iPad: Game-changer?

  1. Meredith Julian

    Caroline,
    I have to agree with you! Sure, I’ve never been the first to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to technology, but I as a PR student I feel that a laptop or desktop computer is still best suited to my work. While the ipad may be convenient because of its size and sleek design, I still prefer the full keyboard and screen of my old MacBook as opposed to the cramped space of the ipad. While certain sectors may immediately benefit from this new technology, I think you are right in saying the real test will come in the next few years. Only as we evaluate the ipad’s performance will we be able to understand its relevance and possibilities for our field…should be interesting!

    • Caroline Beard

      I’m with you, Meredith. Even after playing with a friend’s iPad (and being thoroughly amused), I’ll stick by my laptop for the time being; right now, it’s all I need. We’ll just have to wait and see whether the iPad becomes another necessary gadget in our PR toolkit.

  2. Megan Cotton

    On March 30, Seton Hall, a liberal-arts school in Pa. (not the one in N.J.) announced that they will be issuing iPads to all of their incoming freshmen next semester. As a part of their Griffen Technology Advantage, the iPads along with a 13-inch MacBook Pro will be included in the student’s tuition. They then will be able to use these in class to take notes, record lectures and buy their text books electronically.
    It’s interesting that before the iPad was even released or tested a school committed to having their entire freshmen class use them. This speaks greatly to the success of other Apple products and also to how useful Seton Hall thinks the iPad will be. While I personally don’t think I would need or use an iPad in my classes, Seton Hall freshmen are going to find out first hand how convenient the iPad really is. If it becomes the next “must-have” in our social and professional lives they will already be one step ahead of the curve.

    • Caroline Beard

      I hadn’t heard about the Seton Hall case until you posted it, although I’ve read about other schools beginning similar programs. I agree–it’s fascinating that schools are adopting a brand new technology. It definitely says a lot about the public’s loyalty to and faith in the Apple brand. Yes, if the iPad becomes the next necessary PR tool, the Seton Hall freshman will be ahead of the curve (and ahead of me).

  3. Sade Cade

    I am also not a person to buy the first edition of a new product. But, I feel at least apple could have added more things to the new sleek gadget. For instance, I hear that it doesnt have microsoft word on the gadget. I would have been a little more drawn to the product if it was more like a macbook. I consider the gadget just a larger form of the ipod Touch. Who needs such a large electronis as the ipad to carry around to listen to music and check e-mails? Thats what the iphone is for, right?

  4. Lizzy Griffin

    I just became a believer in the power of an Apple product. I have had iPod’s before, but never a MacBook or other key Apple gadgets. I finally received a MacBook Pro for Christmas and I will never go back to a regular PC. After hearing that the iPad was coming out onto the market I was excited and went straight to the Apple Web site to learn more about it. Honestly, I was disappointed. I love my computer and it has done wonders for me and being on an Apple kick I was highly considering purchasing an iPad. I changed my mind very quickly when I learned that the iPad is inadequate of what a computer can do. It looks glossy and beautiful, yet it does not have the functions that a college student truly needs. I hope in the future after a few redesigns that Apple considers this key audience and makes it more applicable for our age group.

    • Caroline Beard

      Lizzy and Sean–

      I was initially excited and consequently disappointed by the release of the iPad, as well. It definitely seems that it’s lacking certain necessary tools and features right now, but it will be interesting to see how the product and its use develop in the future.

  5. I think Apple has released many great products a lot of which I own, but I agree as a poor college student it is very hard to keep up with all the new technology coming out. I feel like once you buy something the next month they upgrade and then you have to go out and buy the new version. Honestly I get a little freaked out by how fast technology is moving and I think that all of these new things, such as the ipad, are not really necessary to have.

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