I recently bought the new Apple iPad for my wife. She has never been a fan of computers. They are too logical and cold for her. Usually, when she writes an email, I have to stand at her shoulder and advise her. You can see the unease that creeps up every time she gets near a keyboard and mouse. I have a computer in our living room, and she won't sit near it.
Now I am guessing that there is a whole chunk of society who feel exactly the same as my wife. To them, computers are confusing, irrational and frightening. This fear is so bad that they make a thousand excuses why they should not use one. I've heard every little argument.
But something really interesting happened when I gave Claire her iPad. She ENJOYED using it. My self-confessed computer hating wife not only smiles when she uses it, but she is now asking me "Will it do this" or "will it do that". She WANTS to use it more. Possibly for the first time, she sees a computer's potential.
Everything wooshes around at the flick of a finger. The whole package is so slick and capable that using it is instinctive. There are no instruction manuals. You don't need one, because it's all common sense. When my four year old daughter was allowed to have a go, she picked it up straight away. My one year old daughter also understood the interface without any prompting.
This is the way computers should be.... clear and simple. Why make them complicated? Why do you need a million different configuration options? It keeps software engineers and computer companies in money, that's why. Most people don't want to be computer engineers. They just want to get on with their lives with the minimum fuss. Apple understand this more than anyone, and in the iPad, they have delivered a computer tool that understands how people work and delivers simple, effective services for them.