Today I received an email from my newspaper, inviting me to start using their iPad edition for my daily dose of news. It’s the last in a long list of invitations to switch to a digital subscription. And I suddenly realized that it’s the end of an era, as this news paper was the last paper subscription I had. From now on, every subscription I have I will read on my iPad. And that made me think how Apple has profoundly influenced the way I consume information and has in fact ‘digitalized’ my life.
Three years ago, I bought a Windows laptop: it is one of the worst decisions I’ve ever made, since I hardly use it. That’s because I also bought a new flatscreen TV. When looking for a media center, I picked a Mac Mini. I had never owned an Apple product before, but some of my collegues were waxing lyrical about their Macs, so I decided to give it try. I hooked it up to my TV and my stereo and stored all my CDs and DVDs on it. I’ve not bought a physical disc since. I use Plex to watch what I can’t get on iTunes or stream television programs. It completely changed my media consumption: I never watch real-time TV anymore, I just stream everything I like to watch when I want it.
Because the Mac Mini was so easy to use (and I’ve been with Windows since the beginning – MSCE certifications and everything) I decided to get an iPhone 3. Unfortunately that was stolen (I hope someone in Spain enjoyed it as much as I did) so I replaced it with an iPhone 3GS. That iPhone completely changed the way I communicated as I was now able to carry my email around and access the Web on the go. It gave me mobile freedom to work anywhere and still be available to my customers. With iPhone 4 the user experience vastly improved, and now I don’t only use it for communications, I also take pictures, upload blog posts, make payments, Skype, play games, show airplane tickets, measure my heart beat, challenge sport friends; in short it can do a lot of things that I previously needed my laptop or paper for, but it’s much smaller and very convenient to travel with.
And then came iPad. I have to admit, at first I was sceptical and wondered why I would need an iPad. But since I like to try out new gadgets, I decided to get one anyway. I could always sell it on eBay. Boy, was I wrong. I have never spent so much time on a single device. I use the iPad to read books, newspapers and magazines, to communicate with my social networks, to study, to play games, follow news, watch videos and movies. I hardly watch television anymore – my iPad is always on and information is really at my finger tips. The iPad gives me access to a wealth of knowledge and Apps are improving every day, like the new Google App with speech recognition. If I have a question, I pick up the iPad and find the answer. When I want to talk to my family and friends, I call them on Skype or we chat (but please Skype, fix the memory drainage). I still buy paper books, but within a year, my iBooks collection grew just as large as my library ( and I own many, many books). I exchange photos and information with Dropbox, create presentations, and look at Salesforce charts to follow sales progress. I use it for personal as well as work related tasks and the combination makes my life much easier.
So why did these Apple devices catch on so quickly? They are certainly not cheap. I think it’s because they are easy to use, beautifully made, give quick access to everything you need online and always work. Yes, battery life of the iPhone could be much better and I would like it to have NFC and biometrics, but overall Apple has done a wonderful job creating fun, simple devices that are quick to master. Yes, sometimes a faulty App ruins the performance, but once you delete it, everything goes back to normal. Everyone I give the iPad to knows intuitively how to use it, even when it’s the first time. You only have to watch all the “baby on iPad” videos on YouTube to understand how amazing that is.
Steve Jobs once described Apple as the intersection between science and aesthetics, and simplicity as the ultimate sophistication. Using that mindset, they have created beautiful, elegant devices that work. And they’ve changed my life from paper to a digital one. I’m looking forward to what comes next!