For all I see see and hear about the iPad, I still don’t see a lot of them in the wild. Even at sit-down venues like Starbucks, most everyone plus dog is still peering – or shouting – into their more-portable smart phones. Since Apple is definitely selling millions of iPads, it seems likely that they’re mostly being used out of sight: at home, at the breakfast table or on the couch.
I’m just guessing about that, but there does seem to be some data to back it up. According to this, it appears iPad usage peaks at the same times as TV-watching: mornings, lunchtimes and evenings from 7 to 11. So people are sitting down in front of their big-screen televisions and devoting a fair amount of attention to the small screen on their laps. In terms of capturing attention, I suppose it’s kind of like picture-in-picture without the hassle of trying to achieve that with the elusive remote.
Thus, the iPad can be viewed as a really portable second TV set, or a really expensive newspaper or magazine. Or, in my case, as a keyboard-less laptop with a screen that must be held at the proper viewing angle. Sure, it’s more than that, but the main thing is that it’s being used just like any of those more-primitive technologies: while sitting on one’s ass with one’s feet on the coffee table.
The thrust of the CNN piece is that TV executives should worry about the iPad further eroding the amount of quality time Americans spend watching “Jersey Shore.” I think that’s needlessly alarmist. As passive consumers, Americans aren’t going anywhere. For significant periods of the day, we’re still at home with our eyes glued to one or more screens. The medium remains the message. In the case of the iPad, the message is often also the medium. The only challenge for those who create and control the content is how best to sell us stuff through whatever devices we have handy.
Challenging times, to be sure. But somehow, I think they’re equal to the task.