Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Psychology of the iPad

Did you hear the one about the iPad?

Yes, but it all Depends.

This is not just another bad joke about a feminine product. It's a doubly bad joke because it adds a layer of excremental whimsy. Mix it all together and you get pop--I'm not even going to say it--psychology.

So why all the jokes about the iPad? And why the association with a feminine product? The best answer is in the question: why are some of the most popular iPhone apps about farting and other body noises? Freud wrote that even the slip of the scribe is significant, except if you're a scribe and a marketer like Steve Jobs. It might be true, as some bloggers have suggested, that there were no women on the iPad launch team, thus the linguistic stumble.

I doubt it. My guess is that the team figured there would be a few days of jokes and lamentations before consumers got sick of the silliness and started to look closely at the iPad, as a lean-back friendly, super-thin screen in which they could see themselves as clearly as that ancient lad who worshipped his spectacular image in the pond. It was love at first sight.

That's right. It's not about her; it's about us and our vanity.

During the recent Consumer Electronics Show there seemed to be more talk of the new Apple fantasy product than the tens of thousands of flesh-and-blood products on display. It was as if somone painted a giant Ink Blot on the Las Vegas sky and the 120,000 attendees at the show discovered the features of Product X writ large. If they saw images of their moon-lit mothers; they were sent home.

So I have this screen and I fill it up with my hopes, dreams, applications and, if there is any space left, my neuroses. In a way this iPad offers a clean slate for content producers to begin again, as if turning back the clock on Google and others companies that savage our collective psyches.  We can only be thankful that the product was not called iTablet because we have enough Commandments already.

The dust has settled and we are all taking a second-look at the iPad. Some of us are seeing a hole for a camera that might or might not be there.  Others are even dreaming of Flash so we can stream video, primarily of ourselves, at will.

This has always been about the "i," the small ego nestled in its own solipsistic, super-cool pad that I can finally call home. The ceiling is coated with mirrors; the walls are covered with screens. Everywhere I look, I see myself in what Henry James called my "brown study," a kind of 19th century, first-generation iPad that is black-and-white and feels a little like the Hotel California. 

No comments:

Post a Comment