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Teen Driving and the Apple iPad January 28, 2010

Posted by Peter Varhol in Software platforms, Strategy.

As befits someone who began adult life with a couple of degrees in psychology, I remain fascinated by the sociological aspects of advancing technology, how behavior changes as technology enables alternatives.

Certainly we’ve seen a great deal of that over the last couple of decades, much of which is obvious.  Here is a behavior that is not so obvious.  According to a recent article in the Washington Post (reprinted on MSNBC.com), teenagers are less likely to get their driver’s licenses at sixteen, waiting two or three or even more years before taking that particular plunge.

Driving was a vital part of my teen experience.  Probably a lot of that was because I grew up in rural environs, with a father who worked and mother who didn’t drive.  The only way I could participate in school activities was to drive myself (and the cars were mostly old and decrepit).

Some of this is driven by greater legal requirements that many states have since instituted before prospective drivers can get their license.  But much of it seems to be based on changes in how teens socialize.  IM, texting, Facebook, and good old-fashioned cell phones are the media of choice.  Face to face isn’t dead, but there are so many other ways to stay in touch beyond hopping in the car and driving across town.

There’s a larger point here, and one that I would like to attempt to apply to Apple’s new tablet (you must have been wondering how they were related).  By all accounts, the iPad launch went well.  Apple will surely get plenty of people to pony up not just for the base unit, but for added storage, the dock, and the carrying case.

Unfortunately, functionally it’s a netbook, even though it’s a very nice (and expensive) netbook, and it does carry the Apple brand.  And it’s another gadget to carry, because it doesn’t let you make calls.  But unlike your phone, you can’t slip it into your pocket.  (I’m intrigued by the promised battery life, however).

Worse, it doesn’t seem to take into account how people’s leisure habits have changed, just in the last decade.  We take photos on our phone, and if we download them to something, it might as well be our computer.  And we do several things at once; while I’m reading, I may want to examine a location referred to in the book on a map.  That seems at best clunky with the iPad’s single-tasking OS.

Ironically, the best thing that the iPad may offer is a reportedly beefed-up iTunes (or iBooks) store, with a prospective large and inexpensive selection of books and movies.  This more than anything represents the promise of the iPad.



1. How many fatalities were there in 2008 from teen drunk driving? | Feels Like Me - February 4, 2010

[…] Teen Driving and the Apple iPad […]

2. Just What Do We Mean by Computer Security? « Cutting Edge Computing - April 21, 2010

[…] April 21, 2010 Posted by Peter Varhol in Software platforms, Strategy. trackback God knows I’m not a fan of the iPad (it’s a reasonable product, but by no means a game-changer).  But reports of Gartner […]

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