There’s always something to howl about

iPad observation #2: Find a bigger dead-pool: The iPad eats everything.

Kicking this back to the top. This is me, writing just after the introduction of the iPad — two very short years ago. At the time I wrote these essays, every so-called “expert” on the nets was insisting that the iPad was an unforced error. I was right, they were wrong. But I’ve been right about a lot more than I’ve seen in the marketplace so far. Note this, for example: “I hate the remote controls for electronic devices, and one thing we should insist on, going forward, is that every wired device in our lives should be IP-addressable and fully-controllable by internet connection.” It’s interesting to revisit these ideas now, to see where we’ve gotten — and to see how far we still have to come. –GSS


Real life at my house: We actually like to watch television, if watching TV means watching DVDs (lately almost entirely Netflix DVDs) or watching selected cable shows. This usually happens very late in the evening, usually when we’re pretty much exhausted.

But: TV at home used to be TV with laptops. Now it’s TV with iPhone. In six months, it will be TV with iPads — or just iPads on the sofa.

Take careful note:

Broadcast television is dead, as is broadcast radio. Let’s free up the bandwidth now. The iPad is the ultimate perfect television. On-demand. Stop and start at will. Goes with you when mom says you have to go to soccer practice. The iPad is the perfect entertainment-consumption device: Personal, portable, programmable — and infinitely extensible.

As was inferable from my first observation in this series of posts, the annual Christmastime frenzy of cheap-shit electronic children’s “educational” toys is dead. Anything that anyone in your home does while laying stomach-down on the carpet will be done on the iPad.

As I pointed out the other day, Microsoft, Amazon and many, many other hi-tech vendors are dead. (I have a quality/integrity argument to make about this, as well, but I haven’t gotten to it yet.)

Despite the iBook store, books are dead. I love literature and I love the drama, but you don’t have to spend seventy-five bucks a head to discover that the audience for live theater is dying. Books have it that much worse: The honest audience is dying off and the dishonest audience — thoughtless people who buy way too many non-fiction books out of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt — are able to capture much better information for free on the internet. Words-for-sale is as meaningful, by now, as air-for-sale.

And despite the hopes and the hype, magazines-as-we-know-them are dead. There is a future for magazine-like content, but it will probably require a revolution among publishers. The current doofuses think their job is to assemble a collection of readers — people with a shared interest in expensive stuff — so that the publisher can betray them, over and over again, to the advertisers.

The new magazine business model — I’m guessing — is being pioneered by unsigned rock bands. To get attention and build an audience, bands are releasing their content as iPhone apps. It’s give-to-get, and with Facebook and Twitter hooks, it’s social. The magazine of the future will be a real community — no betrayals — much like the relationship between striving young bands and their fans.

(This goes for every kind of marketer — including Realtors and lenders: If you’re making friends just so you can sell them out, you’re screwed.)

(I have Big Ideas on the marketing power of iPhone/iPad apps, but I may keep them to myself.)

I tweeted this last night: “If Apple and the data processing industry get this right, the iPad can become the first truly universal remote control device.” I hate the remote controls for electronic devices, and one thing we should insist on, going forward, is that every wired device in our lives should be IP-addressable and fully-controllable by internet connection. But the iPad is the perfect device for controlling any device or system — anywhere! — that can be driven through an internet connection. Let us all look forward to the day when we can chuck every useless, impenetrable remote control in our homes, at work, everywhere!

(On the subject: A useful remote control — useful for any purpose — will be context-sensitive. Instead of a sea of maddening little buttons, each one unreadably-labelled, you will have only those controls — big bright readable virtual buttons — that are appropriate to your current context. If you’re playing a DVD, you don’t need to worry about, wonder about or accidentally hit the buttons that switch you over to the cable-TV set-top box. (And death to it, too, as soon as possible!))

(One of the missed opportunities of the iPhone was the web-based, server-side service. Apps are really clients, like your mail client, and the app serves as as the client/server user interface. This makes for good static vertical market tools, but what we know from the web is that dynamic data is hugely valuable. The bigger screen on the iPad may result in more web-based services that look like apps to end-users. This gets the iWorld back to the constant-beta idea of Web 2.0: Web-based services are infinitely and instantly upgradeable. Combine that with social effects, and you can have sites that self-construct, on the fly, in response to user interaction.)

(And: So far we are not even taking into account the impact of simulated realties, which are right around the software corner, as it were.)

What else is dead? A lot of stuff. Dedicated devices as a group. Your daily schlep is down to a phone — doesn’t even have to be a smartphone — and your iPad. The iPad has the potential to become the universal interface to everything else, so why carry anything else?

What else? Home control. All those wicked-stupid little red LEDs, useful only — admit the truth — for telling you when your power has failed.

Here’s something you may not have thought of: Your wallet may be dead. Do you carry photos any longer? There’s is an app available that will mimic all of your frequent-shopper cards. Why not your credit cards, too? Why not your car keys, for goodness sake?

That stuff might be a few hardware/software revisions out, but consider this: Your sales resistance to the iPad will drop to zero. Wait for Version 2? Why? Let’s just buy a new iPad every year. If we get tired of the old ones, we can leave them in the guest bedrooms. That’s the completely-personal computer completely taking the place of the television, at the very least.

This is an idea I have discussed at BloodhoundBlog Unchained: The geeks have inherited the earth. From pay-per-click advertising to social media to the ability to suss out any marketing hustle, the world is being transformed into a place that makes sense to INTJs.

Here’s the social trend to watch: Will the proportion of INTJs go up over time?

Meanwhile, integrity selling is all that’s left. Hoke, smoke-and-mirrors, juice, jive, hype and hustle are all dead. The dinosaurs of lies will still be with us for a little while, but their extinction is already assured. If you find yourself mourning them, it’s because you’re one of them. Amend your ways or you will lose everything.

I’ll have more to say about this, but the essence of my case is this: What happened this week was the premonitory death rattle of every business model based on laziness and lies. The iPad is not the efficient cause, it’s just a precipitant. But the demise of every-sure-fire-gimmick-that-always-worked-before commenced this week.

Don’t know about you, but I could not be more delighted.

Further notice: Amending this in light of my third observation:

The implication of a computer that can train its end-users how to use it is that teaching as a profession is dead. All teaching, at all levels. Just imagine what the iPad could do for you if you really wanted to learn a foreign language…

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7 Comments so far

  1. Brad Nix January 31st, 2010 6:39 pm

    Greg, you’re still one of my favorite thinkers and writers in this world. (not that you care, which makes me like you even more) I’m with you, the new community building must be authentic in order to actually work.

    I also just enjoyed one of the most beautiful experiences as a fan/community member for a small band: The Rentals (see more here… Their app is on my iphone!

  2. Greg Swann January 31st, 2010 8:22 pm

    > I’m with you, the new community building must be authentic in order to actually work.

    Precisely. Now combine that thought with observation #4 and use an iPhone/iPad app as a way of bonding more securely with your own real estate community.

    I have to come to Georgia sometime. I know you are way ahead of us on everything, and I want come to see the future in action.

  3. Brad Nix February 1st, 2010 7:54 pm

    You need to come in March (REtechSouth 3/25-26). I doubt you’ll find we’re doing anything ahead of you. In fact, you could teach us a thing or two – lead a session maybe? Email me if interested, brad at retechsouth dot com

  4. […] Therapy, Innovation, Technology) by Greg Swann on 01-29-2012 This is me, writing two years ago, when the iPad was first announced: The implication of a computer that can train its end-users how to use it is that teaching as a […]

  5. […] BLOODHOUNDBLOG UNCHAINED There’s always something to howl about « iPad observation #2: Find a bigger dead-pool: The iPad eats everything. […]

  6. Teresa Boardman February 14th, 2012 4:48 pm

    I watch netflix through my Wii. That way I can have full use of my iPad for more important things.

  7. Jaime Fernandez February 26th, 2012 11:33 am

    Thanks for the post, Greg.
    I completely agree. It doesn’t take an Apple Genius to see that every company that resists going digital or opt for a more efficient means of transporting their media is doomed. Take for example, one of the oldest institutions of mobile information at an affordable price- the newspaper. We all know that newspapers are going the way of the dodo, but as you pointed out, so are many other staples of media from the 20th century. Whether its theater, books, television, music, those in the businesses have to change. Being in the media/entertainment business is changing for better or worse and to survive you must cater to people’s ability to choose what they want to consume and where they want to consume it.