31 January 2010

In case you've been hiding under a rock (or living on another continent): The iPad is here!

All jokes aside about its less-than-ideal name, it seems to offer some amazing experiences for users and developers. As someone who cherishes her iMac and iPhone, I'm a truly committed convert and I can't imagine working with any another brand. So I feel like a fair weather friend by posting this.

But as I watched the launch presentation, all I could think was, "How will this be applied to those who fall outside of Apple's borders?" Is the iPad only usable for those who can iAfford it? It's been positioned as a very accessible tool (compared to other products) but is it affordable enough? As I listened to everyone talk, I heard about social media, photos, emails, presentations and games. I heard from developers and how they can benefit from the software development kit for the device.

But if you are going to brag about your billions, then wouldn't it be amazing if your next announcement included a story about how this tool could actually improve things beyond gaming and graphics? What about innovations in health and economic development that can help the billions living on less than $2/day? The type of interface that the iPad offers, could be an amazing way to empower those who may not have access to information or the level of literacy that would enable them to engage effectively. I'm sure it all sounds very Pollyanna-ish, but shouldn't a global brand be truly global?

Ironically, when I travelled to Rwanda back in 2008, I contacted Apple and asked for the donation of one laptop. I had aspirations to offer design training to university students who were focused on education, technology and agriculture. In the end, I never heard from Apple. Looking back, it might have been for the better. Because you see, Apple support wasn't available in Rwanda. And this reality may be why my post is moot.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a designer. I got invigorated by everything that was shared at the launch. Apple products are smart, beautiful and intuitive. They value typography and graphics in ways others have yet to demonstrate. And this is why I would love to see these tools made available to those who may not yet know how this accessible tool could offer even more accessibility.

With all of this technological advancement, will the iPad only benefit the 10% who can access it?

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