updated 08:10 pm EDT, Fri October 1, 2010
Actor, author chats at UK iPad conference
UK personality and bon vivant Stephen Fry believes the iPad is like a pet dog; a canine can perform a limited set of functions, but people don't buy dogs for their "feature list," he argues, so much as for the sheer enjoyment they give their owners. Fry made the remarks at the iPad Entertainment Summit in London, where he extolled his affection for the device. The summit is a gathering of iPad content producers across Europe who are there to attend programming sessions, examine case studies with successful iPad apps, and learn how to publish, promote and expand their apps and brands.
Fry, who is a popular tech blogger and frequently champions new technologies with a special regard for Apple (not unlike his late compatriot Douglas Adams), has compared the iPad to a family pet before; he made similar remarks to tech website T3 earlier this summer, but at today's conference he expanded on the analogy, as reported by Parmy Olsen on Forbes' web site.
"[People] want engagement. They want to stroke and feel and use all their senses to enjoy something. You can dress it up in words like 'immersive' and try to control it. But you have to forget all that and go for the gut and the heart," he said.
He also defended the iPad and other e-readers against charges that they will kill off real books and traditional reading: "I love the smell and feel of books ... I also like horses, and I'm still going to drive a car." The invention of the car, he argues, didn't render the horse obsolete, but merely relieved it of one of its many functions. Fry compared the outrage of monks in 1451 who were aghast at Gutenberg's mechanically-produced books to present attitudes, and predicted such views will pass with time and acceptance.
A book, he said, is just an older piece of technology. Apple's products - and success - are about the "emotional" side of computing, says Fry, and as was proven when books went from being hand-made to mass-produced, users can still have an emotional connection to them, which makes them valuable even if their "functionality" is limited.