Paradigm Shift or just a big iPhone

When Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad, many of us expected some disruptive move regarding the user interface. In fact, there was nothing revolutionary new in comparison to the iPhone – yes, the iPad is bigger.

There is one thing to keep in mind, though. The computer in its current form is a general purpose computing device, which tries to offer everything from programing to multi-media. Given this general approach, we must assume that more and more of the current applications will move away from the general computing device to, e.g., a handheld device to read and browse the internet – let’s call it iPad for now …

Here is an entry from the latest HCI International Newsletter, which asks whether or not we will see this paradigm shift with the iPad.

Will the Apple iPad be a paradigm shift that will change the way we use portable computers?

On January 27, 2010, Apple launched the iPad,  a device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, photos, watching videos, playing games, reading e-books, and even more. The device has a high-resolution Multi-Touch display that can be described as a bigger, more refined version of the iTouch. Although the tablet computer is not necessarily new, other computer companies have offered similar tablet products before, the success of the Apple iTablet, along with the Amazon Kindle for digital book and iPhone/iTouch that had haptic interfaces, indicates a paradigm shift in portable computer usage. This could also be another major change in the way that people apprehend portable computers, considering the following major changes: graphical user interfaces in making the computer software accessible to everybody, portable music players in the way that people listen to music, and portable computers for giving the opportunity to have a portable office, as well as the Internet’s refinements in breaking the wall and connecting and making everything available to everybody, and finally mobile phone’s in making it technologically possible to connect anybody to everybody almost anywhere. Even though we still need to physically experience the exact behavior of the iPad, we can anticipate the following major changes in user behavior.

  • Reading from a vertical screen to physically changeable position in the way user wants to view or read.
  • Cut and paste versus keyboard data entry.
  • Direct access to desired application versus free navigation.
  • Multi tasking all the time. We can already see that many people have their eyes usually focused on a small screen of a handheld device even when they are walking or talking to someone.

Thus what would be the impact of this device on user behavior?  And what are the other changes that we should expect to see soon? These are the questions that HCI experts will need to research.


  1. CrisisMaven says:

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts. IPad and the slates to come are not a paradigm shift…it is just a big smart phone. I don’t have an IPad…it does not have all the functionality that I want…yet. I am waiting for the HP Slate or something like it. I have a G1 and love it. I call it a device, not a phone…it is so much more and I really want a bigger version of that. I do most of my work online…I don’t need MS Office Suite outside of my home… now… thanks to Google Docs. The paradigm shift will be in the psychology of big business trying to devise systems to capture users attention and money.

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