In which I talk about the connection between hardware and software, despite the fact that I don’t know THAT much about it

Today, in a meeting, I learned that certain software sells better because of the iPad.

Not because it’s better on the iPad. Or because they’ve added features. Or because it’s more widely available in iPad form.

No. It’s simply because the iPad exists. The iPad IS A THING that YOU CAN HOLD and for that reason WE NEED THIS SOFTWARE because THIS SOFTWARE gives us a reason to buy an iPad.

Has this happened before? Where software can see a spike that’s completely unrelated to anything except that a new form of hardware exists?

What I’m talking about is software that has been available for a long time, on multiple devices, but only now – only in this acceptance of the iPad as a true tablet solution – has the software gained enough traction to become successful. Not because it’s better, but because there’s a better option with which to use it. The iPad itself is being heralded as a reason to get the software.

It’s as if there was a world where pencils weren’t being used, and they all sat in their little yellow boxes, and then a new kind of paper was invented and now all of the pencils are being bought up in droves, despite the fact that the old paper worked perfectly fine.

Hardware indirectly selling unconnected software.

It feels so weird to me because I’ve seen it so many times in reverse, thanks to the software-centric nature of the video game industry. Consoles have forever been built on the idea that games lead sales.

It’s one of the few technological industries that allows the hardware to move into the background and become a vehicle for the software.

You didn’t buy a Playstation 2 because it was a more powerful or better system (because, as we all know, it wasn’t – it was a far cry from what Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft were putting out at the time) – instead, you bought a Playstation 2 because it had a more impressive list of games. You bought a Playstation 2 for Metal Gear Solid. You bought it for Grand Theft Auto. You bought it for Final Fantasy. The balance between hardware and software was incredibly one-sided.

Now, we’re seeing the opposite happening, and for the first time it’s gaining traction. People aren’t buying software for the software’s sake, but because it’s on the iPad. As if just creating a reason to buy an iPad is feature enough. Just as people didn’t buy video game hardware for the hardware, but for the software.

I have no stats. I have no examples that I can mention. For all I know this is a common occurrence. But it seems so backward to me, that’s all. Fill me in if I’m missing something.

This was lovingly handwritten on December 8th, 2010