The iPad: a device to consume, not produce

By Grant Jacobs 04/04/2010

With the distribution of iPads to start this Easter weekend, there have been numerous reviews of the what the impact of the Apple‘s iPad might be.

(Source: Wikimedia Commons.)
(Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

I’m particularly impressed with a point David Pogue writing in the New York Times makes about consuming content as opposed to creating it.

He distinguishes techies and your average ’Joe’ or ’Jane’.

I’m going to distinguish these two as producers and consumers, terms Pogue introduces later in his article.

That’s not consumers as in spending money or producers as in movies.

By consumers I mean those that use goods or services provided by a computer, and by producers I mean those that create things on computers. (You could alternatively call producers creators but I don’t wish to confuse this with those that create in the sense of smaller tasks like simple drawings or short messages.)

Apple’s inclusion of their iWorks application (‘app’ in Apple parlance) and a yet-to-come add-on keyboard not withstanding, the iPad is clearly mainly intended as a device, not a ’computer’ in the traditional sense, for those that wish to consume–use not create–services provided by computers.

The reason this matters is that direct comparisons with laptops are meaningless.

Laptops have a different target audience.

It seems to me that people pointing out the lack of keyboard or whatnot are missing this vital point. The iPad, on it’s own, is a consuming device, not a producing device.

As Pogue’s article relates, the reason it is polarising is that it is stripped back to the point that more-or-less the only thing it does well is to consume.

This may be it a very good fit for those that mostly want to consume services.

It will mean that those who also want to produce in any large way, will want a laptop in addition or instead of an iPad.

You’ll notice my tentative ‘mostly’, ‘in any large way’. Limited keyboards are fine for short messages; we already have the same situation for cellular phones and other devices.


I have yet to experience the iPad first-hand.


I meant to write keyboard dock, rather than ‘add-on keyboard’. I’m wrong the keyboard dock not being available; Apple’s on-line store indicates that it comes in the box. I’m learning here, like everyone else! One thing I would like to learn is if the dock allows a keyboard cable to be connected such that the keyboard can be placed independently, away from the screen.

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