There appear to be three types of iPad buyer currently circling the iPad pre-orders and each is decidedly different. They range from religious types who think the device is the equivalent of Moses’ tablets all the way over to folks that just want a bigger iPod.
It might be fun to assess, if you are pre-ordering one, which group you belong to.
The iPad Zealot
This is kind of a scary group of folks. They seem to connect the device to some kind of religious event as if his holiness Saint Steve Jobs passed down from heaven (I’m assuming it is heaven but often wonder) this divine iPad and that anyone that does anything else but praise it should be punished as severely as possible.
They use terms like “magical” to refer to the product and expect it to transform the world with its magic powers. When asked what they will use it for, they often don’t know seemingly expecting that this use will pass to them through some spiritual process which will infuse them with wonder and amazement. While they acknowledge that others may not see the iPad Divine powers they connect this lack of sight to these people being unworthy or as having some not-so-secret connection to an Apple competitor like Dell.
Competing products are discounted as the tools of heretics and those that even suggest these products be considered are castigated as outcasts. To the iPad Zealots there is only one Divine CEO that can bring out magical products and that is Steve Jobs and only one product that optimizes Jobs’ Divine inspiration and that product is the iPad.
I haven’t yet discovered a good defense for this group but am stocking up on crosses, wood stakes, and silver bullets just in case I find myself accidentally pointing out that the iPad is just an oversized iPod Touch.
These are folks who can’t figure out what the iPad is good for but are convinced someone close to them will love it. They haven’t ordered it for themselves but instead for a dear loved one as the gift of the decade. Kind of like the canary in a coal mine, they expect this loved one will enjoy the product and then be able to explain what about it makes it compelling. If it isn’t compelling at least they didn’t buy it for themselves and therefore won’t have to explain why they bought such an expensive useless item.
This is actually rather smart as it gives a loved one a gift that is difficult to match and puts the pressure on that loved one to find a compelling use for the product. If they are successful, the gift giver has a reason to buy one for themselves or enough information to make a more informed decision and even the possibility they can borrow the thing to play with. If the recipient isn’t successful, well it’s their problem and given they probably wanted the thing, will be too embarrassed to point out they have no real clue what it is good for.
In addition, the recipient will be in a poor position to ask for another expensive gift any time soon. If they do the gift giver need only point to the iPad and use that as a reason to avoid another expensive tech product that might end up on the shelf.
The iPad for the Gifter may be the perfect expensive gift as if it turns out to be useful it will be very hard to top and if it doesn’t the related embarrassment could provide a lasting argument against additional expensive tech gifts. In short the iPad could truly be the gift that keeps on giving.
These are folks who love the video side of the iPod/iPhone but hate the screen size of the device. Some may not even have an iPod Touch or iPhone because they really love videos but simply can’t get into watching them, or web browsing, on a 3.5” screen. They are buying the iPad as a big iPod so they can have a video appliance that will allow them to watch their movies on the road. Many have figured out how to rip DVDS and plan to put much of that library on their iPad so they can watch the result away from home.
Some think they may want to try this as an eReader or as a large portable browsing platform but accept that without Flash support and with an LCD screen the device will likely suck for both uses. They don’t care because they know video is stunning on the device and think going outdoors is overrated anyway. In short they see the iPad as the natural evolution of the iPod Touch and want to be part of this evolution. They don’t particularly care whether others use the device or not and are likely to be more than happy to show off what they have and share their experiences. To them the iPad is a tool they plan to enjoy for years to come and they actually know what they will use the iPad for.
Apple products seem to have a mystique about them and they attract different kinds of buyers. These buyers range from those that attribute some kind of magical, religious significance to them, to folks who see them as realistic purchase fulfilling a very real need. Most of you likely will wait until the 2nd or 3rd generation of the iPad if you ever buy it, but for those that ordered one, which group do you fall under or do you think there is a group I left out?