I got a surprising look at the depth of thought that Steve Jobs put into the iPad this week.
When I got my iPad, I was spellbound by the care that went into its design. It is so much prettier than any other computer I have used. Even the packaging was pleasant, and I saved some of the package inserts because I liked their looks. The ease of setting the iPad up and the consistency in its interface have made me a Mac fan.
When I bought the iPad, I decided not to buy another 32GB, in order to buy the Applecare support package. I thought I was buying insurance against some weird hardware problem that Apple would not want to fix for everybody, some strange mistake in the iPad 2 design for which I would want favorable correction terms. I had no idea.
I made my first call to Applecare support because the “Pages” iPad app refused to email a document to me. Pages told me that I needed to specify an email address in “Settings,” and I had done that.
My problem was diagnosed for a while by a support person, and then I was passed to a supervisor. It turned out that the Pages program was telling me the wrong thing. (If you’re curious, Pages gets its email address from the iPad “Mail” program, where at least one address must be defined and turned on.)
The supervisor thanked me for my patience, gave me his phone number, and encouraged me to call him for any kind of problem. In talking to my two Applecare guys, I never had the feeling that they wanted to get me off the phone as soon as they could. And that’s when it hit me:
We know that the iPad has succeeded where all of the previous tablet products failed, because the iPad was conceived as a Media device, something more advanced than a TV set, something that ought to be easy to use like a TV set. There’s a lot of software on iPads, making them somewhat complicated beasts. Apple (make that Steve Jobs) knows that keeping the iPad simple to use requires providing excellent support. And the kind of support I experienced keeps the potential customer base as large as possible, easing the way for many users who are not computer experts.