The iPad is an addictive device. So was the iPhone (and iPod Touch), but the iPad takes device addiction to a new level. For kids, that’s mostly because of the size (vs. iPhone): it’s bigger, easier to handle, and the graphics look fantastic. I think the iPad will fundamentally change how children interact with technology. There have been several videos showing young kids playing with an iPad as if it’s second nature. I can attest to the fact that this happens – my two boys (6 and 3) picked up my iPad and started using it almost immediately. Once I walked into the living room and my 3-year old was playing on the iPad (I had left it out by accident.) I asked him, “What are you doing?” He replied, “I played Angry Birds, some Shrek Kart, Super Why and now I’m doing Pokemon.” (Note: He said it so casually it was absurd. He also never looked up from the iPad screen.)
As iPads drop in price (and other tablets emerge), I believe they’ll be the “throwaway device” that hangs around living rooms, basements, dens, etc. sitting on sofas or coffee tables waiting for anyone to pick up and use for a few minutes. You can’t say that about a laptop computer. And according to Duncan Stewart, tablets are not just an additive device, they’re a replacement device, which means they’re eating into laptop sales.
Back to device addiction.
Kids get hooked on things very quickly. If you’ve ever seen a kid watch a commercial on TV you’ll know what I mean. Days later they can still be singing the commercial ditty, or worse (for parents), asking you to buy what they saw. Kids are a susceptible audience. And the iPad is the near-perfect device to attract kids – big enough, shiny, colorful and easy to use. That ease of use and intuitive use is what makes the iPad almost instantaneously addictive. That’s a homerun win for Apple. Two additional points:
- Instant gratification – Kids can get access to fun stuff almost instantaneously on the iPad
- Endless content – Kids quickly realize that content on the iPad is essentially endless (the same holds true on the Web, but it’s less obvious)
I’m more comfortable letting my kids play on the iPad instead of my computer. The computer always has a bunch of business stuff open (and therefore accessible to my kids dragging stuff to the trash bin for fun!) and it’s setup at my desk where I’ve got papers piled all over the place, bills, etc. The computer is a work device that doubles as a toy. The iPad serves both more easily.
Dave McClure recently tweeted: “Holy Crap: srsly rethnkg @500startups investment thesis & platform priorities re: 2011 iPad sales projctns. fucking *massive* disruption.”
I couldn’t agree more. And where I see huge opportunities is with kids.
The iPad wins by default because the device itself is addictive. Kids will want to use the iPad early and for years to come. That’s a huge opportunity for companies to reach that audience. What we need to see however, are new business models around “apps” because kids are an extremely fickle audience. They have very short attention spans and once they realize that “content is essentially unlimited” they’re loyalty to a specific app or brand (speaking of which, why aren’t more brands on the iPad??) will deteriorate even further. Connecting with kids might seem easy, but it’s far from it, and this is made even worse by the “come and go” nature of the App Store.
The innovation on the iPad isn’t going to be hardware (sure it will improve, but that’s not the priority) or with apps themselves, it’s going to be around business models and more all-encompassing businesses built around apps. For kids that means tie-ins with physical goods, other media and new ways of keeping kids hooked on individual apps. For businesses to succeed on the iPad they have to go beyond addiction to the device itself and create persistent addiction to their own apps.