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Yes, but what’s it for…?


Perhaps it’s something about my upbringing but I’ve always prided myself on being a fairly level-headed type of guy.  Not cynical but maintaining a healthy skepticism – I think it’s important and it’s something I encourage in my delegates.  It makes me, I like to think, immune to hype; I prefer to sit back for a little while, think things through before acting and then act rationally and logically, with good reason. 

I appreciate that all of that makes me sound really dull but I’m not, I promise.  It’s just that, when it comes to certain decisions, usually those which involve spending a lot of money, I like to understand why I’m doing it, what benefit there is, what need I’m meeting and what kind of return I might get.  Until Friday, that is.  On Friday, that changed because I bought something expensive that I have absolutely no need for.  After months of prevaricating, I finally succumbed to something that I’d been resisting: I bought an iPad.

This is not a blog post about the virtues of an iPad.  Suffice it to say that it’s lovely and it has already gone straight to the top of my favourite gadgets list.  No, what struck me was a conversation I was having with a client before I bought the iPad.

Traditionally, I always thought that a business had to understand the need of the marketplace and then seek to meet it.  The most sucessful product was the one that met the need most successfully.  But during the conversation I mentioned just now, it struck me that I’m old enough to remember a time before mobile phones.  When they came out, I remember wanting one but for strictly utilitarian reasons.  At some point over the last few years (and I suspect I know when this happened) that need truned into desire.  When was it that phones, computers, gadgets in general became objects of desire?  Became another way in which we describe ourselves to the world?

It seems to me that what Apple have done is create a (beautiful, shiny, wonderful) product and then taken it to the market and said, essentially, “there you go – find a need for that.”  The exciting thing is, I think the market will.  I suspect that in five years’ time we’ll be using iPads (or the 2015 equivalent) in ways that we don’t even suspect right now.  Perhaps that’s old news to you and you’re already aware of it; it’s new to me and I think it’s going to be fascinating to watch the need evolve.

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