Reinvention through the iPad – A blank slate awaits

Apple iPad

In Latin, tabula rasa means blank slate. In epistemology, in a theory first advanced by Aristotle, tabula rasa also refers to the notion that individuals are born without any preconceived ideas, and that knowledge is cast from outside experience and perception.

I also think it is a perfect metaphor for Apple’s new iPad.

I’ve had my iPad for over 48 hours now. I’ve held off writing anything until now because I really wanted to understand how I was using it. I wanted to have some serious hands-on time with the device. And, truth be told, I’ve only scratched the surface even though it has barely left my side for the last two days.

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve had moments of frustration – born naturally from being a Beta tester of any new Apple product. But in the grand scheme of things, these are merely quibbles. Many will be likely be fixed by future iterations in the iPhone OS – and indeed, we’ll have a sneak peek this Thursday when Apple shows off the roadmap for iPhone 4.0.

True, the WiFi connection has been a bit wobbly at times. And the thing sure is a fingerprint magnet (note to self: invest in a better screen cleaning cloth).

But despite these hiccups, I’ve had what you might call the iPad awakening.

See, the iPad is truly a blank slate. It’s nothing without its apps. Your command of the device is completely dictated by the sum of the experiences contained within. The beauty is that the hardware (which is simply a big piece of glass) quickly becomes irrelevant and disappears. The user experiences can be so natural, so fluid, so graceful – that the way you end up interacting with data and content seems effortless.

I don’t care how “kick ass” your laptop is. You still feel like you’re using a computer. It feels like work.

The iPad makes you forget you’re using a computer. It’s fun.

Steve Jobs wasn’t kidding when he called this device magical.

Fire up a new app and your “computer” magically morphs into a completely new device every time. Your whole focus is on the experience therein. Rich Barton, CEO of Zillow, calls this feeling “intimacy” and I would agree. But it goes deeper than that too; it’s intimacy without distractions.

(A side note – huge kudos to the Zillow team for releasing their iPad app, which is, hands down, the best real estate search experience out there today).

So when using an iPad, it can switch from being a top notch real estate search tool, to a world-class stock terminal (Bloomberg), to a window into all of your documents stored in the cloud (Memeo Connect Reader) – all in seconds. In every instance, the experience is different yet captivating and inviting. It makes you want to come back. Or never let go.

So what does this mean for real estate? Everything and anything. Whatever you can imagine. After all, it is a blank slate. Open to whatever you bring to it. And create for it.

A Tabula Rasa.