Average Users Aren’t Idiots (We Don’t Live In Narnia and Your Friends Aren’t Talking Otters)Thursday, January 28th, 2010
Ok, the iPad.
I’m annoyed by all the defense of the device’s failures by my peers who are justifying the shortcomings as features that only mega-geeks want; they say that the mythical ‘average user’, like some strange breed of lobotomized unicorn, is not interested in these issues. (*cough* Jeff Croft’s iPad Thoughts and Jason Beaird’s iPad: It’s not for us are two stellar examples of this ‘average user’ argument *cough*)
Really? Are you patting yourself on the back that much about how awesome you are that you think it’s still 1999 and we’re logging onto the Internet via a series of loud angry screeches? (Oh dialup modems, how I don’t miss you.) Virtually everyone (in America, at least) uses browsers on a very regular basis. Over 350 million people use Facebook. There’s been these little instant messaging programs with names like MSN or gTalk for a long, long time now. My friend’s grandparents use Skype to talk to their friends in other countries.
What these people lack isn’t a taste for the features we geeks have been talking about. What they lack is the terminology for it. My mom isn’t going to say she wants “multitasking.” She is, however, going to want to have her browser open to look at websites while having access to her IM program to chat with family and friends.
That basic pair of tasks: browsing + chat, does not exist on the iPad. That is a single example that fits the everyday life of millions of people. To tell me that some sort of mythical upper class are the only ones who want to do that is to live a magical life in Narnia, where your friends are mostly talking animals; the majority of which lack opposable thumbs.
One last thing: the App Store. You want to run a program on the iPad? Better hope that Apple wants you to have it. Have fun surfing the Internet without Flash. For better or worse, a good part of the web still runs on it. Apple seems to be pushing farther towards a closed ecosystem, which is the complete opposite of what most of us standardistas believe in. You can’t pretend the device is the replacement to a netbook when it doesn’t have the same breadth and variety of software. Some people celebrate it, claiming the closed ecosystem of the App Store makes it somehow better, filled only with quality software.
Like iFart, which for a time was the #1 app in the store.
The iPad does have a lot going for it (however, the name is killing me.) But let’s not pretend that we’re some rare breed of horse, and that these shortcomings only impact 1% of users. Because that’s clearly a fantasy, and the average person lives in the real world, just like us.