Full disclosure: I don’t get the iPad. I am an early adopter, tech-savvy creative type who used to worship exclusively at the Altar of Jobs AND does not froth at the mouth like so many of my ilk. I won’t go into it here, but I am pretty much in line with Jeff Jarvis’ blog entry on the subject.
As someone who spends his day thinking about retail and brands though, I am fascinated. All my colleagues in media saw the (obvious) opportunities for them and had one pre-launch. But I think there is an opportunity here for those of us who build brands and ask people to shop in our stores. As brand creators and marketers, it’s our job to tell a story that drives awareness and creates engagement. Check—no new news there. Assuming the iPad (AND HP Slate AND Google Tablet) are harbingers of a sea change in how we consume media and interact with the world, we have a clear need to be on that platform in full force.
These 1st gen devices signal the arrival of “Interactive TV.” No longer an elusive chimera tethered to a remote, the multi-touch tablet revolution will allow us to interact with content in a way that TV producers have pitched, since I had a Newton, but have never been able to fulfill. What shoes is Serena wearing? Tap them, find out and get three options to buy them. What else happens in the Biggest Loser house when I am not watching (carry it with you 24/7 to know and learn more about their sponsors). It’s like the promise of the web with a natural input device (your fingers) and extreme portability to boot.
It gets even more fun in-store as the ultimate retail tool (especially when the cheaper version with a camera comes out in the spring). Put it on a stand and it’s interactive signage. Attach it to a cart and it’s a navigation and promotion aid. Hand it to a salesperson and they can show you all the different styles, check inventory, show you how it would look on you (need the camera though, right?) and check you out. It makes even bricks and mortar retail personal, customizable and interactive. It’s a consumption device today, and as a computer geek, it bums me out. But as humanity ultimately asserts itself, let’s all look out for how it can make our commercial experiences in the real world more personal and more fun.