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Archive for October, 2010

I recently wrote a blog about my conundrum as to whether I could trust my new iPad for a big European work and vacation trip. I had to balance the challenge of enabling my wife to do serious dissertation work in the British Library, while keeping my kid entertained. The good news is that the iPad largely passed the test. I’ve had some time now to reflect on how my family interacted with this technology during such a demanding trip across 3 countries.

Entertainment. As anyone with young children will attest, it is amazing to witness the accelerated proficiency in navigation children have with touch screen technology. In a few hours, my son was switching apps and turning the devices on and off. Wow! Well, not really, I’ve seen other kids pick up this technology equally fast. What was a surprising observation to me occurred during the flight home from Rome when he started banging on the tablet. I asked him why he was behaving in such a way and he told me that the movie wasn’t working, even though it was playing just fine. He could not discern between movies, games, and interactive books. He expected everything on his tablet to be interactive, which leaves me with the question:  Are movies as we know them dead?

Work. The iPad was largely a success for my wife. Using Pages and GoodReader for collaboration, content creation, file management and file export she was able to conduct her research; albeit the experience was not as user friendly as we’ve come to expect from other aspects of using the iPad. Where things didn’t work so well was with regards to her need to read existing Word docs that contained comments and edits. She couldn’t view any of the comments; therefore, she was required to drag hard copies around London or do without. The silver lining came with the small form factor and long battery life of the iPad.

Conclusion. There is no question at this point that a new category of device has been created. The connected home just got more crowded, making technology divergence more the predictable path than convergence – darn, I was hoping that soon a single one of my devices could own the living room. What is clear is that new attributes must be factored into customer segmentation and user experience research. Interaction ‘savvyness’ is critical to understand. To draw a comparison, my wife trucked an Apple wireless keyboard into the library each day because there was no way she could type on a touch screen all day long since one error in transcribing from a thirteenth-century manuscript would have been detrimental to her research. My son on the other hand, tried to swipe the top of a glass case when he was looking at a medieval manuscript in Siena’s Duomo.  It was a bummer to see his disappointment when the page didn’t turn!

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