A view from Mark Cridge

Perspective: Caught between the iPad's attractive and distractive qualities

I have a confession to make: I don't own an iPad and I'm not really in a rush to get one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware of the cosmic significance of the iPad as a game-changing, world-transforming new platform that will finally herald the arrival of mobile computing as a major new source of growth for the marketing industry.

But I'm also equally aware of my propensity to become wholly absorbed in the latest new gadget at the expense of my family, social and work life. The CrackBerry was bad enough; there probably isn't space for me to have another personal paradigm shifted.

Not to be outdone - stop that sniggering at the back - I bought an Amazon Kindle with faux plastic leather cover instead. The observant among you will know that this is clearly not even in the same category of devices, the Kindle is not an iPad-lite in anything other than size. Think of the Kindle instead as mobile methadone as opposed to the more addictive nature of the iPad.

My reading behaviours in the real world have quickly become repeated in the virtual. Already, I have ten or 12 books piled up on the Kindle, all in various stages of "read-iness", mirroring the piles of half-consumed novels and business bibles that litter my home.

I noticed a similar mirroring of behaviour when I spoke at the IAB Forum last week in Milan, a gathering of around 10,000 people who, without exception, seemed wholly obsessed about the transformational power of said iPad.

This was the breakthrough that they'd all been waiting for, the nirvana that would see new sources of revenue quickly flow into their pockets.

Of the demos and early stage experiments on display, the majority seemed to go no deeper than adding a bit of video and slick transitions to existing magazine formats - Chris Anderson's demo of the Wired app being a prime example. We're still at the stage of transferring existing approaches on to a new model, reinforced by the fact that more than 25 per cent of iPad owners have yet to download an app, happy to use it as a fancy web browser instead.

Over the longer term, new models and markets will indeed be found - you only need to look at the gorgeous films from Berg and Dentsu to get a glimpse of this. But as is normally the case with any technology, we tend to exaggerate the benefits in the short term and underestimate the benefits in the long term.

It is still be better to understand how to impact consumer behaviour across the full extent of digital over the long term, rather than get distracted with each and every new platform and gadget as it comes along.

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