The iPad is four years old today and my mom hates it. Maybe not hate. Dislikes. Loathes. I don’t know the right word but for two weeks it sat in Apple’s pristine white box, unwrapped, unlocked, setup and then discarded; snuggling in its brown leather SmartCover completely untouched.
After dismissing it as “just a big iPhone” it’s grown on her in four months, just like it’s grown on us since 2010. Now it’s the only place she watches YouTube, looks at pictures, reads websites, FaceTimes and gets down on Solitaire like Kim Jong-un at a nuclear buffet.
Thing is I don’t care if she likes it or not because it’s the best damn thing to ever happen for children with tech-illiterate parents.
Since its introduction on April 3rd 2010, Apple has gone on to sell nearly 200 million iPads. Cupertino quickly made tablets cool – something Microsoft failed to do for years – and spat out five generations of the device over four years, plus expanded with the iPad mini lineup.
Everyone from Obama to Nicole Kidman, Lindsay Lohan to Vanilla Ice, has been spotted using one but its appeal isn’t just glitz and hype. It’s the utter simplicity of the hardware and software. It’s almost too easy-to-use, which makes it feel nothing like a “computer” at all.
iPad spread through schools like a mutant winter flu, capturing 94% of the education market by the end of 2013, but make no mistake, it is popular with parents too. Nearly 80% of U.S. tablet users are armed with iPads, probably because just like mom they’ve realized you can do everything on it if you want to, and you don’t have to be a geek to figure it out.
Thanks to the iPad, my family and friend tech support requests numbers have plummeted lower than MH 370. Obscure cousins no longer text for help trying to rip DVDs into MP4s now that Duck Dynasty can be streamed from the cloud. Gone too are the complaints from parents that a virus or something worse must’ve been downloaded and now I can’t use Pandora or Yahoo Chat or play Bejeweled.
Apple isn’t the only one benefiting from iPads’ popularity as tablets outsold PCs 4 to 1 last year, but fueled by competition, iPad has been gotten increasingly thinner and lighter while also adding Retina displays, bigger batteries and 64-bit processors for better production.
In four quick years iPad created entirely new industries, put others on the endangered list, and invaded our culture. And even though we still laugh at people like Spike Lee who use it as a camera in public, my mom’s most intimate moments, playing with her grandson as he battles cancer, have been captured on using nothing but iPad.
She swears the iPad is probably just a waste of money, but when I stop by to visit and spot her swiping through her Photo Stream, I know she’s lying.