Apple is certainly no stranger to hype — Steve Jobs has built its recent success on a giant, lofty cloud of it. But the “magical, revolutionary” iPad raised hype levels to previously unseen heights. Which reminded me of another product that was preceded by hyperbole and secrecy, only to be greeted with howls of derision upon its unveiling. The similarities are difficult to ignore…

I T ‘ S   S O   A W E S O M E

“Like the first iPhone, iPad 1.0 is a John the Baptist preparing the way of what is to come.”
— Stephen Fry  

“If enough people see (the Segway), you won’t have to convince them to architect cities around it. It’ll just happen.”
— Steve Jobs*  

A   T H I R D   W A Y

iPad: Somewhere between your laptop and your smartphone

Segway: Somewhere between walking and driving

T H E   P R O P O S I T I O N

iPad: You’re going to look so cool with this thing

Segway: You won’t look like a dork riding this thing, we promise

T H E   R E S P O N S E

iPad: That’s all it does?

Segway: You want me to do what?

W H Y   T H E Y   W O N ‘ T   B U Y   I T

iPad: Can’t run Linux, play Ogg Vorbis files and make shaky video calls while downloading torrent of Iron Man 2

Segway: Americans love driving and hate walking; Segway is too much like one and not enough like the other

W H O   I T ‘ S   R E A L L Y   F O R

iPad: iFart fans (who thought the iPhone screen didn’t do it justice); Hollywood starlets (great for cutting coke on top of a video of your latest movie); You (but you’ll be buying it for your mom)

Segway: Mall cops, postal workers, ubergeek polo players, people who want to look even more like tourists by renting them and riding around San Francisco

E M B A R R A S S I N G   C E L E B R I T Y   F A N

iPad: Steve Wozniak

Segway: Steve Wozniak

W H Y   I T ‘ S   A L L   G O I N G   T O   B E   O K

iPad: If it doesn’t sell, Stephen Fry will personally buy up all remaining units and use them to construct the most magical, revolutionary house you’ve ever seen

Segway: Quietly sold to secretive British investor — Buckingham Palace guards to perform elaborate synchronized Segway routine during changing of the guard

* This quote has been widely attributed to Steve Jobs, and while it sounds like the sort of thing he’d say, other accounts suggest he was more circumspect about the Segway. But it’s all over Google, so it must be true.

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