Where’s the Couch? The iPad Shopping Experience is Broken

While I was at the Apple Store today, I checked out the brand new iPad. I really want to get one to replace the six-year-old Powerbook I have at home. My wife and I both have work laptops for heavy lifting, but the iPad seems perfect for the things we do most on our laptops at home: the web, video, email, and photos.

Steve Jobs sitting with an iPad

Steve Jobs demoed the iPad while sitting on a couch. Why does the Apple Store make you use the device while standing?

The iPad is smaller than I expected, but when I picked it up, the device was heavier than I thought. I was also surprised by how difficult typing was while holding the device. On an iPhone, I can type quickly with both thumbs, but with the iPad, I have to hold the device with one hand while typing with the other. And unlike the iPhone which seems molded to my hand, I found the iPad’s shape a bit awkward to hold.

I left a little disappointed, but driving back, I suddenly realized the real problem: Apple screwed up the iPad shopping experience. In the store, I had to use the iPad while standing, but I would almost never use the iPad while standing at home.

Where’s the couch?

When Apple unveiled the iPad at a press event in January, the iPad was not the only thing appearing on-stage for the first time. There was also a large couch in the center of the stage.

Instead of demoing the new product while standing or sitting at a desk like usual, Steve Jobs demonstrated the iPad while seated at a couch. The new iPad TV ad, too, shows people using the iPad while seated on couches. But when you go to an Apple Store to try it for yourself, the iPad is displayed on the same standing tables that display Macs, Macbooks, iPods, and iPhones.

Sitting with an iPad

Apple stores should let shoppers use the iPad while sitting, the same way people do in Apple's iPad ad.

Apple should create a lounge in each store where people can sit and use the iPad like they will in their own homes. Or, add some bar stools, so people can at least get an idea of what it’s like to read an iPad while drinking coffee. This will give shoppers a better idea of what it’s like to actually use the product while simultaneously sending the message, “The iPad is different from any other device.”

Using an iPad while standing is clumsier compared to when you’re sitting on the couch. And when used at a desk, it’s best to have the iPad standing in a dock with a bluetooth keyboard or resting at a tilt in the iPad Case.

Desktops and laptops are mostly used on a desk, and iPods and iPhones are easily used while standing up. But if Jobs’ demo and Apple’s own ads are any clue, Apple believes that the iPad is best used as a casual device while lounging on a couch. So, help shoppers use the device like they will at home, and put some couches in the store.

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