I am sure everyone has seen the posts over the last couple of days about a comment the CEO of Facebook made when asked about them developing an app for iPad.  His answer was that the iPad is not mobile.  I think he meant that having a mobile app does not mean you have an app for the iPad.  It requires a different approach and implementation.  However, that is not the point of this story – it just triggered the thoughts below.

When I saw this comment I actually thought the discussion was about portability of the iPad because if that was the discussion then I would have to say I agree with the comment.  Let me tell you why.

First off, the iPad is portable.  Since it is the size that fits into most backpacks, briefcases and the like it is certainly portable.  My observation about this is using it as a mobile device.

I was recently on a Trans-Atlantic flight and had a gentlemen sit beside me who had an iPad.  Once we got in the air he pulled it out at about the same time I grabbed my MP3 player (a Zune 4GB).  After he had a brief interaction with the screen he put in a set of headphones and appeared to put some music on.

Now when I pull out my MP3 player it is small and compact – typically tucks into my shirt or pants pocket while I am listening to it.

I then observed this guy struggle with where to place his iPad while he used it as an MP3 player for a significant portion of our 8 hour flight. 

First it went on his lap with a hand resting on or near it to keep it in place.  He would occasionally shift between one and two hands being on the iPad in its sleeve.

He did briefly try it tucked into the seat between him and the armrest but that did not last long because it looked like a tight fit.  I would also be concerned about damaging the screen in that situation.

Now we were seated in an exit row and there was not a row of seats in front of us otherwise I think the seat back pocket might have made a viable storage spot while listening to his music – if the headphone cord was long enough to comfortably reach of course.

Did the device work for the apparent use the gentleman had for it as an MP3 player?  Yes – he listened to it quite a bit without interacting with the screen at all.  It just looked very uncomfortable for 6 hours as he had to pay a lot of attention to it to keep it secure and safe.  Once I had turned my MP3 player on and plugged in I was pretty free to get on with other things without having to be worried about the device in the same way he was.

The moral of the story is this – even with the best of technology and capabilities sometimes having a device that performs one function and performs it well is not a bad thing.