Attention Apple: The iPad needs to support multiple users. Now make it so
As much as I hate it when my wife and kids manage to pry my iPad out of my death grip, I understand. It’s new, it’s cool, and everyone loves it. Apple truly created something new in the gadget space – something that’s not quite a netbook, and not quite an iPod touch. Yet unfortunately Apple has decided to treat this new appliance exactly as if it were just a big iPod, when in reality it is not. The iPad is not the individualized, handheld, go anywhere device that the iPod is – it’s really a more of a HOME appliance than a personal device. Sure, Apple may be pushing it as a Super Kindle right now, but it’s basically for playing games, surfing the web and watching videos. It’s more of a family-centered media device than a gadget that belongs to any ONE member of the family (at least MY family).
The problem is each member of the family wants to be able to do different things. We all want to have our own high scores in games, our own bookmarks in Safari, our own mail accounts, different apps arranged in different orders, and with different wallpapers behind them. The solution to this problem is easy: Apple need to enable multiple users on the iPad.
Sure, there’s the chance that enabling multiple users might go a little ways towards stopping households from buying TWO (or more) iPads, but in reality, the price of the iPad is currently enough to stop that for most people. Only the wealthiest of people with the brattiest of kids would buy an iPad for each member of their family, and I’m guessing those people still would, even with multiple users.
But what I’m talking about is the average family who has somehow convinced themselves there is room in their digital life for yet another Apple gadget. THOSE are the people who Apple needs to think of. Currently the iPad, as fun as it is, fails miserably at being the home digital hub it was designed to be (whether Apple knew it or not). The iPad is not simply a digital book. The uses of the iPad are limited only by the imagination of the developers who write apps for it, and it is this diversity of applications that has caused each member of my family to use the iPad in a very different way – From looking up recipes, to watching Netflix movies, to playing Plants vs Zombies – the iPad appeals to everyone. What DOESN’T appeal to everyone is one child picking up the iPad only to discover that the other child has beaten a level on a game he was playing, or worse, started that game over. Or that the only way my wife can check her email on the iPad is if she also can see all of MY email, and it’s horrible,horrible secrets.
Perhaps Apple is counting on the this annoyance eventually driving people to buy multiple iPads, but if so, they’ve misjudged the appeal of their own product. Apple needs to remember that just because the iPad can only be held by one person at a time does not mean it is only being used by one person. The iPad is not an iPod touch. It is something much larger (literally) and meant to enjoyed by multiple people. Make it so, Apple.