LukeW posted a tweet today: “revolutionary changes… they’re harder… you usually go through a period where everybody tells you you’ve completely failed” – Steve Jobs

It got me thinking about disruptive designs, and in particular the TiVo. We bought our first TiVo a little over 10 years ago. At the time, I thought it would be nice to have a VCR that would be easier to program. I liked the idea of being able to set up a program quickly and be sure that my show would actually record. I also thought the idea of being able to pause during a show (for a snack run or bathroom break) might come in handy.

See, at the time, I could only see the TiVo through what I already knew: the VCR. I could only compare its usefulness and value to problems I had already identified: for example, recording shows. What I utterly failed to understand was that TiVo would change absolutely everything about how I watched television. It was a completely disruptive design.

Yes, the ability to record programs easily was great. Yes, the ability to pause during shows was, as expected, fun. But what I didn’t expect was that from that point forward I would never again sit down in front of the TV with nothing to watch. There would always be something on TV – in fact, always something that I really wanted to watch. Wow.

My children grew up with a TiVo in the house. I never worried about finding the right shows for my son when he was 3 years old because I could just fill it up with (please don’t tell anyone) TeleTubbies and he would be ecstatic. In his world, he asked for TeleTubbies and he got them. Instantly. At age 3 he could drive the TiVo himself. That would have been pretty hard to pull off with a TV & VCR.

In hindsight it all looks so obvious. But that’s what happens with disruptive design – it’s hard for the people who use it to anticipate how it will change their lives.

So lately I’ve been thinking about having an iPad… I have a whole little list of things that will be nice. But what I’m really looking forward to is the ways that it changes { surfing, reading, listening, watching, etc. }  for me that I don’t even know about.

I’m curious: Did you have a similar experience with the TiVo? Do you think the iPad will be as disruptive? How will it change the way you { surf, read, listen, watch }?