It’s all about perspective.

Business writers love hyperbole (I’m not one of those – I’m just saying…).

To wit…

…The ground will swell. The paradigm will shift.

But, what if occasionally a new tech gadget comes along that really does shake up society?

Apple’s iPad, may just be such a one-device-to-rule-them-all.

This is the vital difference between “rolling boulders up hill”, and “rolling boulders down hill”.

The timing certainly makes sense.

The iPhone is three years old, the U.S. economy is rebounding (I recognize this is a relative term), and gadget demand is pent up amongst Americans who held off on toy upgrades during the recession. By spring we’ll no doubt be past the holiday sales of the black-and-white e-readers that still look vaguely like medical prostate screening devices. I still like my Kindle (read more about that here: evil wireless empires (and their minions): a prudent and optimistic comparative Analysis), mind you, but it won’t surf the net or track my email like the iPad is designed for.

The world is recovering from its Wall Street hangover, and it’s looking for a new tech party invitation. The Apple iPad will be the guest of honor. Laura DiDio, an analyst at Information Technology Intelligence, has predicted the Apple iPad will be “the next big thing”.

I find that trite and obvious. However, it’s likely going to be true, for awhile, because we WANT it to be so. And, Americans must have progress. And, it’s gotta be big and profound. That’s our way. How we “roll”, as it were.

Other manufacturers such as Dell (DELL) and HP are preparing tablets, too, but Apple is the one to watch because Apple is best at making radical new hardware formats undeniably cool.

Yes… The “Jesus Tablet” will be available in April (there were some production delays that took it out of March). NOTE: I use “Jesus” instead of “Moses” (relative to tablets, eh) because Jesus was an actual trend setter, like Steve Jobs is, today – and, it’s all part of the setup around me trying to make a point, here.

But, there are going to be some other unexpected ripple effects as the iPad is skipped across a veritable sea of technology change in the coming year (Hey… I actually just engaged in some of that aforementioned hyperbole).

And, as that happens, the iPad, like the Ten Commandments, and the Bible, will change the world in at least six ways (I know the Bible changed the world in more than five ways. Just work with me, here):

Off we go, then…

Magazine and Newspaper publishing will bounce back as consumers rediscover paid subscriptions. Sorry, Chris Anderson, but not everything will revert to free. It’s no mistake Time Inc.’s (TWXSports Illustrated invested in a provocative tablet magazine demo that’s also due to hit the market next year.

Publishers realize they have a very narrow window to recapture the paid subscribers they lost to the Web, and they’ll do a lot in terms of grabbing you with the Apple iPad. Expect to see publishers launch visually stunning versions of their magazines with swooping typography, video insets, CNN iReporter-style news uploads, social media overlays – whatever it takes to make you think you’re seeing a magazine or newspaper like never before, so much so you’ll even want to pay for it. And, the iBook Store is going to give Amazon a real run for it’s own money.

NOTE: A conspicuous lack of FLASH on the iPad might be an issue. But, this is where you can probably expect Apple to lead the way to a solution for that, as well. Think in terms of how Apple made Bluetooth a “can’t live without it” part of technology.

Television and Radio ratings will continue to fall. Unlike print, television and radio won’t fit easily into the Apple tablet’s format. Sure, U.S. consumers still watch 5 hours and 9 minutes of live television a day, but the problem is ratings don’t hold when commercials actually air. Downloads are starting to count when it comes to viewers and ratings. Certainly, Apple will try to push television shows and movies through the iPad via iTunes, but that is Apple now dictating controlling what, and how, you want to watch on television. Rather than being a device to watch television, the Apple iPad is more likely to be an interactive advertisement opportunity. So, watch how all of this directly impacts mobile, and mobile devise-oriented advertising creativity. Here is an example:

Nielsen noted this trend of “concurrent media usage” this spring, in a $3.5 million study that recorded what hundreds of people actually do when commercials air. apparently when television advertising spots came on, people picked up laptops, magazines, or cell phones and did something other than watch the television screen. Expect that trend to accelerate when you (and everyone else) have an Apple iPad in your lap.

Augmented-reality views of the world will increase. If you missed this trend, it’s simple: Augmented reality puts computer graphics on top of live video feeds (similar to the yellow line you see on the field in NFL games). Here is an example:

iPhone users can already download applications that overlay a video feed from their iPhone camera, providing floating arrows on the screen showing you, say, the distance to the nearest New York City subway station. With a larger screen, provided by the iPad, such video overlays on reality will become even more compelling. Expect iPhone and iPad app developers to take advantage of this new platform that will enable them to create tools that might include giving construction workers 3D instructions at job sites.

Social Networking and Social Media will reach the next plateau. Look for iPad and iPhone developers to look for ways of providing consumers with product reviews that float over items on sale at the mall – or, serving daters a visual display of the job history, FICO score, and criminal record of that cute guy or gal they meet at a bar, or Church speed-dating events (yes, they are really doing that).

Telecommuting may finally take off. If you hate your commute and care remotely about the environment, then why do you still sit in traffic for two hours each day? Because society has decreed face time is better than phone time. But when Apple tablets make portable video truly accessible, plane tickets and poor coffee in cars may become things of the past. In truth, I feel this is a weaker example. I do believe the virtual work=place is inevitable. But, that will be driven more by technologies we can’t envision, just yet (because steve Jobs has not unveiled them, yet.

Service Providers. The earlier iPads aren’t expected to have video capabilities (at least the one we tested didn’t). However, eventually, two-way video on tablets will push communication costs even lower. I suppose, technically, you can already do portable video today, if you’re willing to walk around town with a laptop flipped open near a Wi-Fi zone. But, by and large, our North American infrastructure still can’t accommodate simple two-way video on the go (Clear might be trying hard to change that, but we still aren’t, well, clear, whether Clear is a scam, or not). Add an iPad with built-in Webcam, and suddenly video calls are as easy as holding up a mirror. You better believe AT&T (T) and Verizon Wireless (VZ) are sweating about the advent of Skype video in subway trains or on Hawaiian beaches. Perhaps Apple will throw its partner AT&T a bone by holding off on iPad Webcams for a few generations. Or it will throw AT&T under the bus by cutting an iPad deal with Verizon Wireless, a scenario at least under consideration earlier this year. My guess is that Verizon comes on-line with the iPad by 2011. And, by the way, Verizon is getting very aggressive, as evidenced by their recent deal with Google and the Nexus One (we’re trying that out, ourselves, through T-Mobile and Google Voice).

That’s sort of my point here… Apple brings technology on-line that you did not know you could not live without. However, I want to make you aware of a few more possibilities before I end this post. Quit rolling your eyes. All of my readers know I’m right. So, you might as well surrender to the truth, here. Apple is deploying technology today under a master plan, and within it’s own terms, of how Steve Jobs wants you to use (his) technology and be more productive. In the end, it affects Apple’s stock. and, now you understand the ultimate brilliance of Jobs, setting the example, beginning years ago, of taking his executive pay in the form of Apple stock.

Perhaps it’s too much to hope for: a world where Apple provides low-cost, two-way video anywhere that saves print journalism while reducing phone costs, augments reality while cutting your commute – even brings humanity closer together while stopping traffic jams and pollution.

You set the example; and, you lead the way.

Just no “padding”-while-driving, please.

I wonder if pad-centic terminology will go Verb like Google has?

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Advertisements