Making It Magical Again

Apple’s just announced their biggest ever quarter and it was largely due to the iPhone and – the iPad. You know I have to say that even though I’ve been a lifelong Apple (Mac) user and the owner of both iPads – I’ve never been SO impressed with them, personally. Yes I’ve understood the overwhelming response they’ve had in terms of sales and critical reviews. I’m happy for the iPad. And I’m happy for Apple. And I know I’m wrong and it’s just probably me that’s not getting all excited.

But this week, in the bus on the way to work, I figured it out.

There was this guy on the bus playing Scrabble. SCRABBLE  on his iPad. Next he was viewing photos. You could do this (and you have been able to do this for years) on just about any other device! But that’s been my (and I humbly say many others, like Microsoft) fundamental flaw. I’ve been looking at the iPad as a functional device. It is of course in someways, but really isn’t is so many others.

Being an Apple user for more than 20 years has spoilt me. Really spoilt me. So I suppose like many lifelong Mac users, I’ve come to expect amazing hardware and software. So other things impress me now – like how amazing Airplay is as a technology; like how tightly the iTunes credit ecosystem is such that I can literally spend my credits on anything (books, music, movies, apps), anywhere (AppleTV, Mac, iPhone, iPad) – if you think that’s easy ask just anyone else (like Nintendo). And the amazing engineering and product design that goes into the logic board and chassis of the MacBook Air.

But this over-sized iPhone with rows of icons and so much wasted space between them?

I realize now how I’ve overlook the simpler things. I’ve forgotten how magical it can be to fall in love with a device for the first time. Or a user-interface. Or a way-of-working.

I can remember how magical it was for me, back in the day when I first discovered the MacOS after seeing the hell that was DOS. I remember spending nights, NIGHTS designing icons using ResEdit. The amazing joy of learning how to get photos onto your computer for the first time and then – Adobe Photoshop 1.0!

Those were magical times and sometimes, I do wish I could go back to those days. Not the CPU speeds mind you, just the delight in discovering something so elegant for the first time.

And so I do envy those first time iPad / iPhone users.  It probably IS a magical experience for them. It’s not about the OS or hardware or the apps or the ecosystem – it’s the greater sum of its parts that makes them just want to do something on these devices – what? Well, anything…that’s where applications help. But I suspect it’s not just about the apps.

It’s more emotional than functional and one could say, almost magical. And Apple seems to have done that again for a whole new generation of users.


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