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The iPad: What It Means For You, What it Means For Apple

By: Andy Simmons
on February 19, 2010 10:24 am

It has now been several weeks since Apple officially announced the iPad, and everybody and their dog has taken the opportunity to voice their opinion on it.  Some people think that it’s undeniably the future of computing.  Some people think that it’s a flash-in-the-pan fad that will fail miserably, taking Apple down with it.  Having spent the past few weeks digesting every bit of the iPad talk I could stand to consume, I thought I’d share with you a no-nonsense distillation of facts and opinions on Steve Jobs’ new baby.

The Name, and Why It Doesn’t Matter

“iPad”.  Everyone has an opinion on the name.  Some (few) people love it.  Some (most) people hate it.  People point out that the name was the very punchline of a 2006 MadTV sketch that was already about three years late jumping on the iJoke bandwagon.  You know what else had a stupid name?  No, not the Zune (though, yes, that is absolutely the worst product name ever to roll out of Redmond), I’m talking about the iPod, and to a lesser extent, the iPhone.  Stupid, stupid, incredibly dumb names.  Everybody hated the iPod name when it was announced.  What does it even mean?  It’s nothing.  It’s four letters in camel-case that meant absolutely nothing in sequence until they were projected on a screen behind a man in a black turtleneck.  Nobody got the name, but everybody loved the product.  That ridiculously lousy name is now a household word.  It is to PMP devices what Kleenex is to tissue paper and what Xerox is to photocopiers.  And does anybody now remember how stupid the name was?  Nope.  It’s become part of the vocabulary.  As for the iPhone, was there any way that Apple could have been lazier about naming this product?  It was as if they weren’t even trying.  But it just so happens that both the iPod and the iPhone were fantastic devices that were well-designed, easy to use, accessible, and most of all, fun.  It didn’t matter what they were called because Apple wasn’t selling a name, they were selling awesome, world-changing devices.

The same applies to the iPad.  Apple doesn’t really care what it’s called, giving it a name is a bothersome formality.  They just want people to use it, to enjoy using it, and for it to be the first thing that people think of when they think of a portable media device in a mid-size tablet form factor.  If the iPad succeeds or fails, it’s going to be on its merits as a world-changing (or not) device, and not because of its stupid, stupid name.

It’s Not A Computer, and Why It’s Not Supposed To Be

One of the most common criticisms leveled at the iPad has been the assertion that, with its lack of removable media or multitasking, the iPad is basically a giant iPod Touch, and not a proper computer.  These are fair points, but these “missing” features are also things that are extraneous to Apple’s vision of what the iPad is supposed to be.  During his presentation, Steve made a point of positioning the iPad in that middle ground between a MacBook and an iPhone, intentionally squashing out netbooks.  Apple is effectively drawing a continuum between the MacBook and the iPhone, and insinuating that the netbook is so close to the features and functions of a laptop that it is a pointless device.  And for most people, he’s right.  The advantages to carrying a netbook as opposed to a laptop are few and far-between.  The iPad, however, is closer to Apple’s vision of the middle of that continuum.  Not a computer, not an iPhone, but a medium-sized device basically devoted to media consumption.  Apps.  Games.  Books.  Newspapers.  Movies.  TV.  Music.  All sold through iTunes, and all reachable through this magic little window that is the iPad.  Why would Apple want to make the iPad a full-blown computer?  You likely already have one of those, and if sales trends are any indication, your computer is probably a laptop, or your next one will be.  It’s simple, really.  If you want to do heavy computing, you grab your computer.  If you just want to sit back and enjoy a book/movie/game, you grab your iPad.  I suspect that, in use, the distinction between the devices in terms of which is appropriate for a specific task will become more apparent, and will be purely intuitive within a few years.

…But I Already Have An iPhone

Certainly, there is a significant amount of overlap between the iPad and the iPhone.  However, the iPad has one major advantage over the iPhone: the size of the screen.  This seems like a minor difference until you consider what this means for applications that take advantage of multitouch.  On the iPhone, the screen is so small that multitouch gestures are pretty much limited to two-finger taps, pinches, and unpinches.  On the much larger iPad display, however, it becomes practical to utilize the full abilities of multitouch.  This will be exposed primarily in games, most likely.  A very quick (and largely unnoticed) example of this was shown during the N.O.V.A. demo at the iPad release event.  The game involved multi-finger rotates and swipes, things that are less feasible on the iPhone’s little screen.  Given that games on the iPhone have been big business so far for both Apple and developers, I have little doubt that developers will be falling over themselves to provide not only iPad-specific updates of current games, but also new and different games that simply could not be realized on the iPhone due to size constraints.

Furthermore, the iPad demonstration made it clear that the iPad supports dropdown menus that currently cannot be found on the iPhone or iPod Touch.  While this seems like a minor feature, the application of this was clear in the demos of the iWork suite for iPad, and it’s not a stretch to imagine that we’ll see this in many, many more iPad applications — especially productivity and organization apps — that are currently somewhat difficult to use on the iPhone.

Of course, the iPad isn’t going to supplant the iPhone in normal use… you clearly can’t slip an iPad in your pocket or your purse, and you can’t make standard phone calls with the iPad.  However, odds are that the iPad will replace your iPhone as the go-to device when you’re at home and just want to check movie listings or the weather forecast or your email, but you don’t want to wait for your computer to boot up.  Just as with the laptop-iPad relationship, the iPad-iPhone relationship is one that will become more apparent and more organic with use, and as the devices evolve.

It Doesn’t Support Flash, Why It Doesn’t Make Sense To, and Why You Shouldn’t Care

While the iPad name has been the dead horse of choice for the general public to beat, tech critics seem to have agreed to target a different perceived shortcoming: the lack of Flash support in the Safari browser.  They go on and on about how so much of the world wide web is dependent on Flash, and how this is a crippling omission in the browser.  Apple has long been criticized for the lack of Flash support on the iPhone, how DARE they impose this same restriction on the iPad?  Are they insane?

Well, no.  They’re not.

One point that many tech critics — especially those that do not use a Mac on a day-to-day basis — have overlooked is that Flash is and has always been the bane of web browsing on a Mac.  Flash for Macs is a notorious resource hog, and is infamously unstable.  It’s to the point where people have written Safari plugins specifically to prevent Flash applets from loading (ClickToFlash and BashFlash, just to name a couple).  So, if Adobe can’t deliver a fast, slim, stable version of Flash for OS X, why would anyone believe that they could deliver a better version for the iPad or iPhone, both of which are running what is effectively a stripped-down version of OS X on far less powerful hardware?

Even if Adobe was somehow able to pull off this logic-defying feat, Apple would still have reason to block it anyway.  When you think about it, there are really only four reasons that people incorporate Flash on a website, and none of them are compelling reasons for Apple to support it:

  1. to provide giant animated and interactive menus. Every web designer and developer worth his or her salt knows that you simply do not build a website that requires a specific plugin in order to navigate, or you are going to alienate a significant portion of your audience.  This was a best practice that was established back when few browsers supported Flash or other media plugins, and has become important again now that mobile browsing is starting to comprise a larger portion of WWW traffic.  Any website that doesn’t offer an alternative to Flash navigation is a website that isn’t worth visiting.
  2. to deliver media such as video and music. YouTube and Vimeo have recently started moving to HTML5 instead of Flash, and odds are that once the big boys do it, the smaller players will follow.  Why keep investing in Flash development tools when all you really need is built right into the HTML spec?  And why would Apple want to do anything extra to support a technology that is losing ground to a free alternative?
  3. to provide dynamically updating content (maps that track an object in real time, etc). Again, this sort of thing can be provided with other technologies, such as HTML5 and AJAX.
  4. to provide interactive content (read: games). If you look through the iTunes app store, you’ll find more than a few games that are basically ports of Flash games that you can play for free on the internet.  Clearly, it’s in Apple’s best financial interest to keep people buying those apps from the app store, since Apple gets a cut of each of those sales.  And if the popularity and potential profits of the app store are enough to convince budding developers to skip writing Flash games and jump straight into the iPhone/iPad SDK, all the better for Apple… and all the less reason for Apple to bother with Flash.

And even ignoring all of those issues and considerations, there is one large question that has yet to be answered: how would Flash even work on an iPhone or iPad?  Interaction with Flash applets boils down to a set of “events” that register with the applet, such as a mouse click, hovering over an item with the cursor, clicking and dragging, etc.  How exactly would Flash be able to read a “hover” event, when there is no mouse pointer with which to hover?  How would Flash distinguish a user swiping to scroll the page from a user clicking and dragging in a Flash applet?  The answer is that there is no answer.  Flash applets would either have to completely take over the browser, or interaction with them on a iPad or iPhone would become so significantly different from interacting with them on a desktop browser that it would feel awkward and downright alien.  In short, Flash was designed to be used with a mouse and physical keyboard, two things that the iPhone and iPad lack; even if Flash *could* run on an iPad, it wouldn’t be usable for the majority of the things that people do with it.

Few tears should be shed over the lack of Flash on the iPad.  A great many of us have gotten along just fine for the past few years without Flash on our iPhones, and besides, all signs point to Flash going the way of RealPlayer.  Don’t forget that Adobe is going to get little support from Microsoft in keeping the de facto web application framework crown;  MS is doing everything they can to usurp that title with their own Silverlight product.

Why The iPad Is Critical For Apple

If there’s anything that Apple doesn’t get enough credit for, it’s their impeccable sense of timing with respect to product releases.  The iPod.  The iTunes music store.  The iPhone.  The app store.  Every one of these products or services was released after a market or potential consumer base had been established, but before anyone else had been able to truly capitalize on it.  The iPad is no different.  The success of the Kindle has proven that there is a market for e-readers, and the success of the iTunes music, video, and app stores have proven that there is a market for media in general divorced from a full-blown computer.  The iPad is Apple’s effort at not only bringing those two markets together with one product, but also heading off the tablet computing gold rush.  Bill Gates predicted back in 2001 that tablet computers would be “the most popular form of PC sold in America” within five years.  He was on the right track, but he had the timeline all wrong.  Tablet computing is going to be a big thing over the coming years, and for Apple’s big bet to pay off, the market is going to have to decide that it prefers slimmed-down media-consumption devices to full-blown PCs in a tablet form factor.

This is important for Apple not just because they want to sell hardware, but also because they want to establish the iPad as the way that most people consume media outside the living room.  They want the iPad to justify the existence of the iTunes video store (because AppleTV surely hasn’t), and they want the iPad to become the new conduit for print media, dispensing books, magazines, and newspapers purchased through the relevant iTunes stores.  If it isn’t already apparent, Apple wants its fingers deep in the media pie, because media is all about recurring revenue.  If they can make the media consumption process on the iPad easy, affordable, and enjoyable, it will sell, and Apple will have bet and won.

If the iPad fails, however, Apple is going to have a major setback.  They’ll have to reconsider how to win over the e-book market (or if that’s even a possibility for them), and they risk losing the potential revenue from digital print media to a competitor that could then try to push them out of other media markets.  Not to mention that, with all of the buzz and hype surrounding the iPad, a failure here would leave a large bruise on the Apple brand.

What I Still Don’t Get About the iPad

With that said, there are still a few pieces of the iPad puzzle that I can’t quite make fit.  First and foremost, while it’s great that Apple provides 3G as an option on the iPad models, and it’s even more impressive that they’ve arranged to make iPad 3G data plans pay-as-you-go, I still don’t quite understand why I would want to take an iPad out of the house.  I can absolutely see it as an always-on information device that I can leave on my coffee table and pick up whenever I need it, but I don’t understand why I’d pick it rather than my laptop if I’m leaving the house.  I suppose I might want to take the iPad with me if I had a specific iPad game I wanted to play while I’m out, but I do own a PSP and a Nintendo DS, and a stack of unfinished games for each, and I rarely think to take those with me.  I can’t imagine that things would be much different with the iPad.  I suppose someone might want to take the iPad with them instead of a laptop if they were going to need access to data, but wouldn’t necessarily be near a Wi-Fi access point.  But I have an iPhone, and if AT&T ever follows through on the promise to allow tethering with an iPhone, I’m back to taking my laptop with me instead of the iPad.

The other thing that bugs me is that, by all appearances, the iPad seems to be a single-user device, like an iPhone.  It makes sense for the iPhone to be a single-user device, because it really is a personal device.  It is *my* phone.  My email is on it, my browser history is on it, my bookmarks are on it, and that’s fine, because it is mine.  Computers, however, are frequently multi-user devices, and so modern operating systems provide the ability to separate one user’s data from another’s with separate user accounts.  John can’t read Jane’s email, the Jane can’t see Jack’s browser history, and Jack can’t delete John’s bookmarks, even though they are all using the same computer.  The iPad, from what we’ve seen, is a single-user device, which doesn’t make sense for something that seems like it would be a logical fit as the family’s shared, coffee-table information device.  At this point, there doesn’t seem to be a way to set up two or more user email accounts on the iPad without making them both visible to all users.

Conclusion

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Apple has a lot riding on the success of the iPad.  Since the introduction of the iTunes music store, Apple has been evolving from a company that sells computers to a company that sells user experiences.  Sure, they still sell computers, and now they also sell a number of other non-computer hardware devices, and certainly they sell just about every imaginable kind of media through iTunes.  They don’t, however make their money selling media.  They make their money selling the devices that you need in order to consume the media that the iTunes store offers.  The iPad is a big step and a major change in how we think about consuming media, and it’s either going to fail miserably or it’s going to change the world.

Comments

  1. 1
    Julie says:

    Fantastic article Andy! I’m in complete agreement with everything you wrote.

  2. 2
    Randy Murray says:

    Spot on.

    I think your last point, not seeing yourself taking the unit outside the house, is the real question. I think the iPad is going to be so damn useful to both home and business users that they’re going to want to have them with them all the time. That means a shift in fashion, which may sound weird, but I mean it. It means the true emergence of the “man-purse” and a change in women’s bags to allow everyone to carry an iPad.

    I’ve resisted carrying a bag for years, but I’m already looking at them. I’m thinking about a Levenger Bomber Jacket Messenger Bag (http://ow.ly/195Aq). I know – I may be around the bend, but I think bags for men could be the next growth industry.

    Thanks for the great article!

  3. 3
    Griffin Peyton says:

    Great stuff – this is the perfect writeup for someone who is still on the fence and/or uninformed about the iPad.

    And, yes, I still want one. :)

  4. 4
    Julie says:

    I don’t think I will carry the iPad with me every day. But then I have a 20 minute drive to and from work and sit in front of a computer all day long. If I lived in a large city that required me to ride the subway or a bus to my job, I’d could definitely see myself carrying one.

    Do Subways have free WiFi? I forgot to check when I was in NYC earlier in the week and was exploring the city.

  5. 5
    dc says:

    Very nice article. A lot of great points. It’s a content consumption device, not a laptop replacement.

    One note on Flash; personally, I’m staying out of the argument. But Adobe has made a good point. They don’t have access to the Apple hardware or APIs. They can write a better version, but it requires cooperation from Apple. And for most content out there, significant investment is required for html5 conversion. Even if it goes away, it’s not going away soon.
    One source: http://gizmodo.com/5475005/steve-jobs-flash-video-would-make-the-ipad-battery-life-15-hours

  6. 6
    Andy Simmons says:

    Randy, to your point on the “man-purse”… William Gibson described in one of his books (either _Neuromancer_ or _Count Zero_, I can’t remember) a jacket that one of the characters wore that had a pocket in the back for his “deck” (which was a sort of small, flat, portable computer). I wonder if that’s where we’re headed? ScottEVest already makes a product — the Travel Vest — that has an interior pocket big enough for an iPad…

  7. 7
    Mark says:

    I’m curious as to whether Apple will rename it again. The name “iPad” is already owned by two other companies technically.
    Fujitsu and mag-Tek

    Apple should be slapped for having the audacity to “assume” they could use that name in the first place without getting rights to it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad
    (near the bottom of article)

  8. 8
    Asa Davis says:

    I liked the article which boiled down the divergent statements I have read.
    I think you have missed one huge point though. There are millions of us out there that aren’t power users. We like to email and we like to consume media, but we don’t need a computer unless we are applying ourselves to our admin tasks such as updating our Quicken accounts. Therefore, the iPad represents a way of taking what we DO use quite often along with us on trips. It is so much a lighter and manageable a size that it represents a significant bonus to us. And how about all those kids who schlep HUGE book bags to school? Not everyone has the need for everything all the time. Maybe we could talk (that’s an outmoded form of texting).

  9. 9
    Andy Simmons says:

    Asa, while I can’t speak to how non-power-users might use an iPad, I have been a student, and I can absolutely see how an iPad could be invaluable to them, especially if Apple can get textbook publishers to make their books available in the iBooks store. I’d gladly spend $630 to get back all of the time that I spent running back and forth between classes and my dorm or car to swap out one set of ridiculously heavy books for another.

  10. 10
    Sam says:

    I wish Apple created something at least vaguely pocketable, a 5-7 inch device. That would be even more highly focused on media consumption, would be larger than any phone would likely be, and definitely not a laptop replacement.

    On the other hand, at 9″, a touchtypeable onscreen keyboard can be a reality, and I think people will be surprised at how usable the soft keyboard will be.

    Cast your mind back to 2005… Apple acquires Fingerworks, who had produced a capacitive multi-touch surface that was used as a combination keyboard, trackpad, and gesture recognition device. The iPad soft keyboard could easily be the return of the MacNTouch.

    When I was following the iPad announcement, the iWork ports seemed to be one of the more important parts, showing that Apple does think the iPad can displace netbooks as light duty laptops.

  11. 11
    O B says:

    Fantastic article. I especially liked the part where you explained why flash will logistically not work due to its functionality (mouse interactions). Please allow me to respond to this part: ‘I still don’t quite understand why I would want to take an iPad out of the house.’

    The reason, Andy, is that most internet users are like me. They do not create, produce, include, add, or deliver content other than an occasional short comment. Most users only absorb information, not create it. I do not even like getting email that I have to respond to. The only semi productive thing I do on the computer is scan all my important life documents into the digital. This is why the ipad will be perfect for me. I lost my Passport! Oh here is a scanned copy of it on my iPad.

  12. 12
    Ruj says:

    Agreed with most everything. The way I work, the iWork on a very light device for everyday travel will do it for me. That’s why the keyboard with foreign languages should be coming real soon. As soon as they do, I’ll get one.

  13. 13
    TonyBostony says:

    The software I buy for my desktop PC works on my laptop as well as my netbook. I saved tons of dough. The reason I don’t think the iPad is for me is, I do not need something that does not do what I want – while having to spend more money buying applications that will ONLY work it IT.

    Netbooks are just small laptops – obviously. They are meant to save money, time (in place of driving 100MPH getting home to do work) and space. They are also convenient for being apple to run desktop software. I can see the iPad being liked for specific reasons, and that will be the highlights of its greatness. This is also the reason why a netbook is JUST a netbook. A different name for something that does it all. But again, people are focusing on the name as to what it does.

  14. 14

    Great article!

    I do see the use for “out-of-home” purposes. It’s a great media hub while on a road trip and a great form factor when on plane trips. You get so many media choices while on a trip with good battery life.

    Once they add a webcam and iChat it will be even better.

    One thing that’s great, which many people complain about, is the virtual keyboard. I love it because speaking different languages I need different keyboard layouts and having a keyboard which offers a flexible layout is very useful.

  15. 15
    Fargo says:

    It’s about time someone writes something of value and actual thought on the iPad topic, rather then dismissing it. As for taking this thing with you instead of a laptop, for me it’s simple, there are remote desktop apps that will allow you to connect back to home/work computers, Sling Players will let you watch your tv, your content will become addictive and how much cooler are the MacHeads going to be at Starbucks holding this thing rather then the iBook or what have you.

  16. 16
    Michael says:

    Awesome article and helps solidify some things I had questions about.
    I think the webcam will come in an update edition of the iPad, and that will only boost the sales of what I think is going to be a great product.
    I can see putting a lite version of iWorks on it, or even Docs-To-Go and it being a very light-weight portable computing device, easily adaptable for business use. Add the potential of projector capabilities as a presentation tool and it could easily become a major player for businesses. Remember, it’s just been announced and we have yet to see apps specifically developed for the iPad. Given the extra screen space and a little time, I think we’ll see some pretty awesome things in the near future.

  17. 17
    Claudio Pollero says:

    Can you connect the I-Pad to a printer?

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    Thanks for this article, you’ve made some terrific points that have put things in perspective for me. As others have commented, I too see the iPad as something that I’d use regularly away from home. If nothing else I’d see it as a replacement for my daily paper on my commute into work and as an alternative to a physical book, magazine, or some other form of more entertaining/relaxed media that I could enjoy on the way home – pretty much every day.

  19. 19
    David Stanton says:

    Outside the home, iPad will be better than the iPhone for reading ebooks, magazines, newspapers, and web browsing, for times when you are at doctor’s office, Starbucks, airport, on the subway, in a business meeting, on a sales calls (for sales people to show web content or presentations), etc. Apple left out multiuser accounts because the iPad is meant to be a personal device. As prices drop in the future, everyone will have their own, just like iPhones and iPods.

  20. 20
    Kristian says:

    As soon as I heard about the iPad I wanted one. I had been thinking about a Kindle but couldn’t make myself buy one. I have a Mac at home and absolutely love it so I really want to stick with the Apple brand where I can.
    One of the questions you had regarding why would you take it out of the home? I can think of a million places that I would take that with me. I love to read and so having that with me would be a boon. I could take it to the beauty parlor or the beach or the park. I’d never have to worry about dogearring a book again or over crowding my bookshelves, as I’ve been known to do.

    Personally, I can’t wait till they come out, I’ll be one of the first in line to get one.

  21. 21
    Sandee Cohen says:

    Andy,

    I agree with much of your assessment except when it comes to the Flash content.

    Apple says that the iBook reader will open the ePub format.

    As I’m sure you know, EPUB is a file format standard created by the International Digital Publishing Forum based on a profile of XHTML 1.1 and Zip-based packaging. SWF content and common image file types can be referenced within PDF- and EPUB-based publications.

    I have been working with a variety of publishers to teach them how to create EPUB documents that contain SWF animations.

    Consider an annual report with SWF movies that show profit and loss.

    Or cutaways for technical journals that show how products work.

    Or just little happy-face animations that are added to children’s books.

    All of these are MUCH easier to create using SWF tools such as Illustrator and Flash. (InDesign even has a very rudimentary SWF export.)

    What it seems like Apple is doing is arbitrarily crippling the display of a perfectly valid EPUB file type.

    And as far as I know there are no other file types that offer small file size, zooms, and crisp text that SWF and Silverlight offer.

    Apple has a chip on its shoulder that makes their decisions not helpful to the consumer or publishers.

  22. 22
    Gary says:

    FLASH,
    Something you forgot in your FLASH analysis is ADVERTISING. All those annoying pop up ads and moving boxes and motion ad headers are missing on my iPhone and I don’t miss them. I use my iPhone at home now in my easy chair to browse the web and it is so nice to not have all that garbage. I read somewhere that 90% of the advertising on the web is done in flash now. I am all for getting rid of all of that junk. Many pages will send a static ad to iPhone users because they know iPhone does not get flash.

    If iPad is a huge success it will mean the end of Flash because these web sites can not keep ignoring such a large number of customers.

  23. 23
    Eric says:

    What I think would have made the iPad truly revolutionary is if they had made it an extension of the iPhone/iPod touch, instead of being a separate device.

    What I am envisioning is a docking device that connects to the iPhone that would be the same form factor as the iPad but uses the software, data and radios of the iPhone that is plugged into it. Essentially becoming a big screen for the iPhone. When you need the smaller form factor, then simply disconnect the iPhone. No need for additional data plans. It would use the data plan of the iPhone that’s plugged into it.

    It could have more memory, a bigger processor and battery to power the larger form factor, but the core would be your iPhone.

    I’d buy that in a heart beat.

  24. 24
    Andy Simmons says:

    Claudio,

    Though there doesn’t appear to be any method to print directly to a printer, there are a number of apps in the app store that allow you to print to a networked printer from an iPhone or iPod Touch that is on the same wireless network. I suspect that these apps will also work with the iPad.

  25. 25
    md says:

    Why do so many people purposely spend their time carefully crafting excuses for Apple? The ipad will only do well as a an over priced kindle replacement. That’s it! You can leave your logic at the door and fantasize about all sorts of ways to look at it and what it may become but you really just look silly. Apple’s business model is to play you for a sucker and I hate to say that it’s just too late for many of you…

  26. 26
    Don Holt says:

    Great article, and a very good defense of the iPad, and I HOPE (for the future of Apple) that it is a big hit . . . .

    Here is my misgivings, (and yes, O am an Apple addict who has bought the G4 Cube,even the first iPod, first iPhone, every version of the white iBook, every version of the iMac from the slot load to now, always buy the Family Pack OS and receive it on it’s day of release, my Macbook is my pride and joy, and tell everyone to dump their PC and buy a Mac. I await with anticipation at the announcement of every new Apple device, and usually preorder). If this same item was announced say, 4 or 5 years ago, it would have been a HUGE hit . . . .
    BUT . . . it is 500 dollars for a big IPOD touch with 16 GB of storage and an iPhone OS???!!!!!??!??! It makes no sense . . I can buy an iPhone for 200.00 that can take pictures and make videos, AND make phone calls, and get the unlimited data At&T G3 connection for the SAME 30 dollars a month!?
    The day the iPad was announced, and I saw what it was, I ordered a Dell Mini 10v, put 2GB of RAM in it, and installed Snow Leopard, and upgraded it to X.6.2 (yes you can) it does so much MORE than the iPad there is NO comparison, (other than the iPad would make a better eReader).
    I have less than 300.00 in my Hackintosh, and Apple lost the sale of an iPad from this consumer to a cheap Dell Mini, which I am very pleased with. I am SURE my story is not unique.
    It is not a Gadget most gadget buffs lust for . . .

  27. 27
    Chris says:

    Well… there are TWO things that I am sure Apple got wrong. The first is one they couldn’t help, if they wanted a 3G provider on side: the SIM card really should be normal size for the 3G connection. The second is much more important. The battery life needs to be measured in days, not hours. About 7-10 days. The device is an eBook. It needs to double as a book. Apple got this VERY wrong. My wife is not a “geek” and she’d love an iPad EXCEPT she travels, and wants to take her books to read: text books, novels, newspapers… and her diary. I like books and I want a pad to make notes, too. The key point is that we TRAVEL. We don’t have time to “plug it in” every few hours. We don’t have power points in the train, plane, or when we go walking… but we’d LOVE to take our books with us (except that they are too bulky). Enter the iPad. And exit the iPad. Battery flat.

  28. 28
    Grwisher says:

    Don Holt

    No, you are not unique, but pretty close to it.

  29. 29
    Carl says:

    Very good article.

    Here’s why I am buying an iPad (non 3G). I had a netbook (hackintoshed) that I was using to do email, web, remote screen access to my servers at work and machines at home, and I wanted to use it to watch video. Video is where it crapped out. It couldn’t keep up with the video. The iPad will. That with LogMeIn makes this the device for me when I travel, instead of having to lug around my work laptop.

    Magazines and newspapers, I am hoping come sooner rather than later. eBooks are an added bonus. Although I would like to see some kind of model to do something like Netflix for ebooks, or allow me to give or receive an ebook (my friend buys and reads an ebook, then through the iTunes store can “send’ me the book. it deletes off his, and is available to download on mine.

  30. 30
    Matt says:

    I love it when people show up and write a message as if they’re the only smart people in the room, md.

    Yeah, I guess the 70 million + people who bought iPhone OS devices so far are all just lemmings who happened to fall prey to Apple’s shrewd marketing and subliminal advertising. Good thing enlightened people like yourself are here to rein a few of the hopelessly lost back into the intelligent fold.

    Give me a break, Apple makes good products, if you don’t like them or they don’t fit your usage model, don’t buy it, but don’t come in and act sanctimonious about it.

  31. 31
    bishboria says:

    dc, from what I’ve read Adobe can use the QuickTime APIs to achieve hardware acceleration. Software engineers worth their salt will understand why Apple would require this.

  32. 32
    Sandee Cohen says:

    @Carl,

    What kind of video did your netbook crap out on?

    If it was Hulu, the iThing wouldn’t be able to keep up either as current video from Hulu requires Flash.

  33. 33
    Palaemon says:

    Probably one of the best written analysis articles on the iPad!

    I have a 13″ MBP, why would I want something that duplicates that functionality? What people *can’t* yet understand is the ability to create Desktop-class apps for the iPad. iWork is just the beginning.

    Also, great point about flash being point-and-click (mouse) based.

  34. 34
    Robert McLaughlin says:

    Well done. I agree completely with your analysis. However, I think it’s worth mentioning that competitors will soon be selling Android devices of similiar size. I think the iPad is only the first of a whole new paradigm of computing. Computing for people who don’t use computers.

  35. 35
    joey says:

    Good article….one comment….can you really see gaming on it becoming popular? I mean really? It weighs a pound and is touchscreen only. So you can hold it up with one hand and play with th other (won’t last long because of the weight), cradle it on your lap with your feet on the coffee table….or lay it on your lap. Can you imagine the neck pain laying it on your lap and playing would cause?

    I think it’s a mistake to compare the success of gaming on the iphone with the ipad. The iphone is great for portable gaming because of it’s size. If I wanted to play a game on a 10″ screen I would use a laptop or desktop with an even bigger screen.

  36. 36
    Michael Murray says:

    “What I think would have made the iPad truly revolutionary is if they had made it an extension of the iPhone/iPod touch, instead of being a separate device.”

    Do you remember the Palm Foleo

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Foleo

    Michael

  37. 37
    Dan McNutt says:

    Great article. I think the great hubbub of what isn’t in the iPad is more about the huge (mostly speculative) hype preceding the device announcement. I want to get one bad, though I am probably going to wait until after I grab the next gen iPhone this year (my first gen is feeling it’s age).

  38. 38
    Ken S says:

    Apple has done customers a great disservice with its marketing tactics around the iPad. In order to attack Amazon and the Kindle they are trying to break the $9.99 price point on ebooks and raise them to the $13 – $15 down level. The publishers are happy…the reading public gets to pay more.

    If Microsoft created the Windows App Store and blatantly censored apps it didn’t like there would be screaming in the streets and the web…Apple does the same and this is somehow good? Yes, I know you can “jailbreak” an iPhone/iPod, but that’s not something even the intermediate user is comfortable with. I wonder if we’ll see Opera released in the App Store…or are competitive applications only required on other platforms?

    The iPad has some positives but to me there are more negatives:

    1. Battery life is reportedly too short. The Kindle lasts for weeks…and never requires the use of a computer. The iPad will last (they say) 10 hours and then like the iPod Touch you’ll still have to connect it to a computer (with a proprietary cable) to do things like delete a song? Not much of a mobile device there really…unless, of course, you buy a netbook to bring along with it on the road.

    2. Putting the iPad down on a table to type and then view the screen at an angle is not going to be comfortable. We’re also talking about a very large screen to keep from becoming a smudged mess.

    3. Not only is the SIM card not a standard size…Apple still refuses to use standard cables. Would it have been that difficult to use a USB based cable? There is no advantage to the fragile iPhone/iPad connectors.

    4. No Flash. This isn’t about stability…this is about Apple locking control of content and the sale of it on their machines. For years and years people were upset that Microsoft wouldn’t allow developers access to APIs…Apple does it and once again people make up reasons to protect them. Apple should also remember that if not for Adobe and PageMaker…(and perhaps Microsoft and Excel) there might not be an Apple today.

    5. Apple at one time sold a very nice pad device it was called the Newton 2100. By the final iteration the handwriting recognition was fantastic and while it wasn’t small…you could easily take it with you on the road. It also allowed you to to swap batteries and even use AAs in a pinch.

    6. The App Store – What a horrible, slow mess. It is so chock-full of garbage it’s really impossible to find quality applications anymore. The search functionality is lacking and sorts after a search are non-existent. Keep all the apps…just find a far, far better way to find, view, demo and purchase them.

    7. The UI. This one I really don’t get. On my iPod Touch the applications are just pasted onto a screen. There’s no easy way to reorder them by type, title, etc. (Yes, I know I can drag them around and from screen to screen). Requiring someone remember their media player is on page four, row three, column two is NOT a good UI.

    8. Multitasking? So, if I’m flipping through an online magazine and I want to send a link to someone else I have to copy the link (it’s nice Apple finally added that advanced feature), shut down the magazine application, open the email application, paste and send the link, shut down the email app and then relaunch the magazine? Oops…someone wants to IM me….they can’t unless I have another device nearby. Apple continually advertises that it’s important to be able to talk on the phone and access data on the web…but email/IMs/Texting and doing something else isn’t important? C’mon.

    I’m sure Apple will sell a bunch of these devices at launch…there are plenty of sheep that will camp out to get one. It will probably improve over time, but I very much doubt that Apple will change it’s proprietary and controlling ways anytime soon…unless forced to do so by the courts.

  39. 39
    thenikjones says:

    Overall, good article – although I disagree that lack of Flash is a non-issue as iPhone/Touch hasn’t had it – a lot of Facebook games use it. Maybe this is seen as a trivial use, but my wife enjoys them so would be unimpressed if a device made for web-use couldn’t play them.

    As for taking the iPad from the house – obvious reason, travel. I have watched a film on my Touch during flights, an iPad would be better. However I already have a Touch and a netbook [far more useful for travel for me than a laptop as I can work on it and video-Skype with my wife, and it is less fragile and takes up much less space] so I am unlikely to buy an iPad unless I lose/break one of these 2 devices. I’ll certainly look forward to playing with one when I can though.

  40. 40
    MartinN says:

    I’m with Ken S here.

    People have been moaning and complaining about how uncomfortable it is to read books on a laptop screen, “like staring into a lightbulb for hours”, which is why we got book readers with ePaper displays. But now suddenly, this thingy will be the perfect thing to read books on, despite it having not much more than a standard backlit colour LCD. So, the iPad is not a book reader.

    For someone working, I can not for my life see how you can work with this thingy. Don’t even think about entering any amounts of text on an on-screen keyboard. Have you ever tried? If you are old enough to have seen a Sinclair ZX81 computer (sold as Timex Sinclair in the US, I believe) then you know what I mean. It had a flat plastic membrane keyboard and you couldn’t rest your fingers on it, since you were then pressing a bunch of keys. This will be the same. Hovering your fingers over the device while bending your neck to see what’s on the screen. That sounds comfortable! Not to mention if someone wants to give you a file on a USB stick and you don’t have the special cable with you. So, the iPad is not a laptop replacement for working people.

    As a movie viewer? Yes, maybe. But my laptop can do that too. And since I already carry my laptop with me if I go out and need more “firepower” than my phone can give, why pack the iPad too? At home I have a rather nice TV which I am sure gives a better movie experience than the iPad. So, the iPad is not a movie viewer.

    Actually, coming to think about it, it would be rather good for web browsing on the toilet. But then it needs a hole or something so I can hang it in the bathroom.

  41. 41
    thenikjones says:

    @MartinN

    for entering a lot of data, the external keyboard would be used. This is where I think my old netbook wins though – it will be sturdier & more stable than the iPad + keyboard. On a plane or train, the amount of movement of iPad relative to external keyboard will annoy me – it did when I used a PDA + bluetooth keyboard.

  42. 42
    Andy Simmons says:

    @MartinN

    That backlit LCD displays are more fatiguing to our eyes than e-ink is a bit of misinformation that has been perpetuated based on things that were true about old CRT displays with low refresh rates. You know, technology that is now a couple of decades old.

    Newer LCD displays refresh faster than the human eye can detect, so that is no longer a concern. Also worthy of note is the fact that the iPad, unlike a normal laptop or desktop display, has an ambient light sensor, and adjusts the display brightness based on the amount of light in the room (like the iPhone does).

    The NYT has an article on the subject that is quite enlightening. I suggest you give it a read: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/do-e-readers-cause-eye-strain

  43. 43
    Andy Simmons says:

    @ Ken S

    You might as well get over the app store issue… the other big players in the mobile space (RIM, Google, Palm, Microsoft) have noticed that this is working well for Apple, and are likely going to ape what Apple is doing. Palm already has a similar construct in place, and word is that MS is going to build something similarly locked-down for the Windows 7 phones. And it will only take one person submitting a malicious app that covertly compromises user data on Android devices before Google start thinking about locking down the Android app market.

  44. 44
    iKidNot says:

    If not for Apple, I may have had the terrible experience of playing free Flash games and watching free Flash videos on my iPad…..

    Apple Saves Us from Burden of Choice
    http://ikidnot.blogspot.com/2010/02/apple-saves-us-from-burden-of-choice.html

  45. 45

    The issue isn’t just that Apple has the device locked down app-wise, it’s that they have so far been using that power in arbitrary and anti-competitive ways. If all they were doing was screening out malicious and/or horribly broken apps that would be one thing, but they aren’t doing that — they continue to remove working, safe apps based on arbitrary and anti-competitive reasoning. Maybe you trust Apple to know better than yourself what you should be using your device for, but I don’t.

    The difference is not that Apple has a locked down app store, it’s what they do with it. Palm, as near as I can tell, doesn’t really care what you do with WebOS as long as you don’t screw stuff up, and I expect the same sort of attitude from Microsoft. (Not that I don’t expect MS to use their app store anti-competitively, but it’s more their style to buy or duplicate apps they want to get rid of.)

    And as for Google, given that Android is Open Source, that Google doesn’t own the hardware, and that the Android Market is not the sole source of apps, trying to lock it down tight at this point would be like closing Pandora’s box. (And the longer they wait, the harder it gets, because of the platform having momentum the way it is now.) Sure, they could release a new version of Android that is locked down, but they don’t have the power to force anyone to use it — all they would end up doing is causing a fork, which would be messy, fragment the community, and probably mark the end of Android as a viable consumer product.

  46. 46
    mc says:

    I enjoyed reading the article. I just want to comment that the 3G feature allows me to have access to the internet on the go. I do research, so surfing the web with a lighter mobile device that allows me to use productivity applications is perfect. The media is just a secondary priority.

  47. 47
    Palaemon says:

    @Ken S.

    – I just responded to your post point-by-point.

    The iPad has some positives but to me there are more negatives:
    1. Battery life is reportedly too short. The Kindle lasts for weeks…and never requires the use of a computer. The iPad will last (they say) 10 hours and then like the iPod Touch you’ll still have to connect it to a computer (with a proprietary cable) to do things like delete a song? Not much of a mobile device there really…unless, of course, you buy a netbook to bring along with it on the road.

    – The Kindle doesn’t use the same technology, but you knew that. Can you delete a song on the Kindle? It’s weird, you *start out* by comparing it to the Kindle and it’s one stand-out feature, but then later you only mention features that the Kindle doesn’t have (Flash, multitasking, apps, etc.)

    2. Putting the iPad down on a table to type and then view the screen at an angle is not going to be comfortable. We’re also talking about a very large screen to keep from becoming a smudged mess.

    – The point is just silly. Clean your fingers and use the iPad case that converts for typing. I know it isn’t included, but ALL tablet type devices would need a solution for this. Apple at least addressed this.

    3. Not only is the SIM card not a standard size…Apple still refuses to use standard cables. Would it have been that difficult to use a USB based cable? There is no advantage to the fragile iPhone/iPad connectors.

    – Who cares what kind of cable you use? They are available EVERYwhere and they are cheap. I have 3-4. Also, what is the standard size SIM card for a tablet device? This SIM is a standard. It’s just a newer standard. And why does that matter?

    4. No Flash. This isn’t about stability…this is about Apple locking control of content and the sale of it on their machines. For years and years people were upset that Microsoft wouldn’t allow developers access to APIs…Apple does it and once again people make up reasons to protect them. Apple should also remember that if not for Adobe and PageMaker…(and perhaps Microsoft and Excel) there might not be an Apple today.

    – Actually, I think it’s both. At one point 85% of the streaming audio/video on the Internet was RealPlayer, now it’s tied to Flash. What’s your point?

    5. Apple at one time sold a very nice pad device it was called the Newton 2100. By the final iteration the handwriting recognition was fantastic and while it wasn’t small…you could easily take it with you on the road. It also allowed you to to swap batteries and even use AAs in a pinch.

    – Yea, let’s use AAs. That’s a selling point.

    6. The App Store – What a horrible, slow mess. It is so chock-full of garbage it’s really impossible to find quality applications anymore. The search functionality is lacking and sorts after a search are non-existent. Keep all the apps…just find a far, far better way to find, view, demo and purchase them.

    – I agree that there is way too much garbage. I use sites like appshopper.com to help filter the 140k apps. But I’d still rather have 140k options rather than 20k.

    7. The UI. This one I really don’t get. On my iPod Touch the applications are just pasted onto a screen. There’s no easy way to reorder them by type, title, etc. (Yes, I know I can drag them around and from screen to screen). Requiring someone remember their media player is on page four, row three, column two is NOT a good UI.

    – Well, I usually remember where my important apps are, but if not, just use universal search. I agree that the exact same UI for the iPad may not be as great, but I don’t know if I’m gonna have 60+ apps on there all the time.

    8. Multitasking? So, if I’m flipping through an online magazine and I want to send a link to someone else I have to copy the link (it’s nice Apple finally added that advanced feature), shut down the magazine application, open the email application, paste and send the link, shut down the email app and then relaunch the magazine? Oops…someone wants to IM me….they can’t unless I have another device nearby. Apple continually advertises that it’s important to be able to talk on the phone and access data on the web…but email/IMs/Texting and doing something else isn’t important? C’mon.

    – Okay, well, I agree about IM/Text, but email can be sent *in-app* w/o leaving the app. I do that all the time using my Twitter app to send a link to an email buddy. You can also email your current page while in Mobile Safari the same way. I would like to be able to reply to a text w/o having to exit my current app. Of course, there is no texting on the iPad, so…

    – Also, developers have the ability to “save-state” their apps upon exit, so they go right back to where they were when you exited them. Except for streaming music, this takes care of most multitasking gripes.

    I’m sure Apple will sell a bunch of these devices at launch…there are plenty of sheep that will camp out to get one. It will probably improve over time, but I very much doubt that Apple will change it’s proprietary and controlling ways anytime soon…unless forced to do so by the courts.

    – baa…

  48. 48
    James says:

    Interesting article but was a little bit more pro than impartial analysis.

    1) It’s not a full computer but for a specialized device it isn’t more powerful than a netbook and is priced higher than netbooks.

    Not a huge issue, since you expect to pay a premium for Apple products and the iPad is well designed at only 1.5 pounds. But shouldn’t have been omitted, especially since you pointed out Apple considers netbooks pointless and wants to show the iPad as the better alternative device for between smartphone and notebook use.

    2) You left out that much of the reasons why Apple left out features is because they have other products that fill those needs. Like Apple TV for HD content. So is more for people who will invest in a range of Apple products or don’t need those features to begin with.

    3) dc already pointed out that Adobe doesn’t have the access to properly engineer Flash for Apple. Mostly because Apple doesn’t support competing products and would rather you use Core Image, Core Animation, Core Audio, QuickTime and Cocoa.

    So that’s Apple’s fault and not Adobe’s. They simply don’t want you to use Flash.

    HTML5 is also still in beta, so even though Flash may get replaced eventually it’s still number one for now. So there really isn’t many alternatives for iPad users who may want to access more than 64% of the internet.

    And even when Flash does get replaced, whatever it gets replaced by will also be plagued by advertisement, as that’s the fault of advertisers and not Flash.

    4) No mention of the competition, like Notion Ink Tablet is a glaring omission when it came to Apple’s timing!

    The iPhone may have had flaws as well when it first came out but it also had little to no competition. But the iPad will within months of its release have an ever increasing number of competitive products that in many ways will offer more features and at least some will be at better price point.

    Limiting the draw of the iPad to those who are either already using Apple products and thus fill a gap. Or those drawn to its interface and sleek design.

    Also in many ways the iPad, even though it offers a little more, will have to compete even with existing iPhone and iTouch owners. For on the go use smaller devices do win out as a simple matter of convenience and not everyone will travel in a way that can take advantage of a larger screen.

    But actual user reviews will be telling and will show whether Apple has a good strategy going with the iPad or whether it’ll be the next Newton and we’ll have to wait years before they try again.

  49. 49
    Ken S says:

    Palaemon,

    I compare the iPad to the Kindle as a book reader. For that one task it’s not nearly as good. But since you ask, yes I can delete music from my Kindle without attaching it to a computer first. The pricing game that Apple is playing with publishers is also bad for consumers.

    The iPad is supposed to be much more than a book reader though…so I tried to go through some of my other concerns. Yes, I agree the Kindle doesn’t play a part in these other areas.

    Just to touch on some of your comments.

    1. If I have to buy some sort of special case that holds an external keyboard to type…why not carry a netbook? As for cleaning fingers first…right. I guess I’ll carry a bunch of wipes around in that case. You’re right this is a problem for all tablets unless they use a stylus and have handwriting recognition. I know, I know…Steve says a stylus is not allowed.

    2. I care about cables because when I travel I have to carry them to do things like recharge the device. Most of the mobile phone industry settled on a USB standard which means carrying one cable…well, except Apple. This also means every device that wants to communicate with Apple’s devices requires their connector. There’s no reason that Apple couldn’t have adopted the standard except for anti competitive behavior.

    3. The point about Flash is that Apple is purposely closing its systems to prevent competition.

    4. Not having a battery that can be replaced, and not having standardized cables make it harder to use. A device that you have to put back in its case because you can’t swap batteries isn’t much of a selling point either…is it?

    5. I can text from my iPod Touch…will this not work on an iPad? To put it in Appleese “There’s an app for that”, but I do have to quit out of whatever I’m doing to do so.

    6. If you’re going to have 140K applications you need to do a whole lot better job of presenting them than the current system.

    Someone else commented that I should just “get used to the App Store” because everyone else will have them. First, I should note that it wasn’t Apple that came up with this idea…it really dates back to Nintendo and the whole cartridge licensing deal. The problem is Apple has become even more aggressive in their censorship of apps. Apple, like Nintendo, is censoring applications based on their content and whether or not they’re competitive with Apple products. It’s anti competitive and will harm development. I don’t care that there is an App Store…Blackberry has one as well, but locking your machine to only allow applications that come through that store is a problem.

    So, I see some deficiencies in the iPad hardware/software if Apple wanted to they could probably correct them over time. Worse though is the dangerously anti-consumer/anti-competitive behavior that Apple is engaging in. Supporting continuing steps in that direction are not going to make things better.

  50. 50
    Wolfman2200 says:

    So, as far as apps are concerned, these will be handled by the iPad, and not the iPhone? So, does that mean that the iPhone is pretty much reduced to just a phone. Because the apps can be run on a larger screen format?

  51. 51
    Palaemon says:

    @Ken S

    I appreciate your thoughts.

    I’m not sure I agree about the “game Apple is plating with publishers” comment. I don’t want to pay $12-15 for eBooks, but if the publishers want that price so not to devalue their product, perceived or otherwise, it’s their choice. If no one buys eBooks or the public will simply not bite, and prices will have to follow.

    I guess the “cables” issue is a non-issue for me since I have an iPhone & a MBP. But, I see what you mean, *if* you normally didn’t need to carry an iPhone/iPod cable, it would be one more extra cable. I don’t use a USB cable for anything travel-related. If I take an external HD (rarely) I use FW.

    LOL about the wipes. The case I meant was the one that protects the iPad that can be converted so you can type in landscape-mode while it’s propped more like a keyboard. But, since you mentioned it, I think it’s a great idea that you have the option to use a “real” keyboard with the iPad if you want. Also the stylus is not something I’ve been too fond of. I use it on the DS and my hand gets a cramp after a while, so I’m glad it’s not the main way to use the iPad, but I bet developers could come up with apps that use a stylus (I know they have for the iPhone.)

    Battery life. I think 7-10 is enough per day for me. My iPhone doesn’t get that much and I only need to recharge at night. Plus, you know 3rd-party vendors will have solutions out the wazoo for this. like they do for the iPod/iPhone.

    As for texting, I assume it’ll be the same on the iPad as it is on the iPT. I know there is a jailbroken app/feature that let’s you reply to a text w/o leaving what you’re currently doing. That would be nice, but I’ll probably still use my iPhone for texts/IM while I’m on the iPad.

    As for the UI. I think it works well, but I agree that it’s (almost) 3 years old and needs an overhaul to accommodate the plethora of apps people download.

    As for the app store censorship, I don’t get it. I don’t care if there are “iBoobies” or whatever, but why have parental controls if Apple is going to do that for you? It’s the lack of Firefox-type apps that bothers me more.

  52. 52
    James says:

    @Palaemon – “I don’t want to pay $12-15 for eBooks, but if the publishers want that price so not to devalue their product, perceived or otherwise, it’s their choice. If no one buys eBooks or the public will simply not bite, and prices will have to follow.”

    Actually it is good to point out that the publishers are the ones asking for these prices. The only difference is Amazon sells ebooks almost for a loss to give the $9.99 prices they give.

    The $12-$15 is also just the maximum price. So some of Apple’s ebooks may actually match Amazon’s $9.99 price point but for now Amazon has the advantage for ebooks with their more aggressive pricing.

    There is also the question as to whether you can access free online ebooks with the iPad and whether it will be difficult to establish a really large library without easy interchangeable storage medium like a simple SD card slot.

    Of course you can get an adapter but that makes it just a little less portable and chips away at it’s otherwise good form factor advantage when both ebook readers and tablets are coming out with built in card readers for additional storage and even USB ports for universal compatibility with most portable storage and device mediums.

    But whether this is truly a negative will depend on the user and whether it truly limits them or not.

  53. 53
    Smythe Richbourg says:

    Wow, this is a great thread! Love the variety of ideas here.

    Some observations. The cable thing is a red herring. There were few MP3 players out before the iPod that used anything near a standard. I had a Rio and some other no-name brand, neither of which used the mini-USB plug, and Apple started using FireWire on the first iPod. I wish they’d have never left that, but in a move to placate the PC users, they decided on a standard that they developed that would give access to data, charging, line out, etc., and licensed it to various third parties to make charging solutions with. There are currently iPod chargers from everything to Hello Kitty alarm clocks to Bowers & Wilkins sound systems that all use the iPod charger plug. This is a huge third party business, and if Apple changed the charger pins to something else, there would be a large hue and cry from that community that “Apple is unfair.” You’ll get a cable with your iPad – stow it in your bag or pocket with the wall-wart that will most likely be there as well (as with the iPhone) and plug it into any 110 outlet. If you’re actiely using it longer than that, grab a charging solution like the Newer device that was reviewed here a week or so ago, and plug the USB cable into that. There will more than likely be a large number of external battery clip-ons for the iPad, just as there is for the iPhone and iPod Touch. But, for the large majority of folks, 10 hours at a sitting is a good long time.

    Flash runs poorly on the Mac, not because Apple doesn’t allow direct access to hardware acceleration, but because Adobe doesn’t develop well for the Mac. Only 50% of currently-shipping Macs use hardware acceleration, yet the plug-in works poorly on all Macs. How would giving Adobe access to the hardware improve the experience of the other half of the Mac users out there? There are also reported security openings that have been on the forums for 18 months that have not only gone unaddressed, but they have not even been alluded to in public by Adobe. One developer has a website that will reliably crash your browser just by loading the page. And the fact that Adobe drags it’s feet regarding updating Flash is a matter of public record. It took far longer to get native OS X support and Intel-Mac support than most other apps. Apple even re-wrote Safari to allow handling 32-bit plug-ins, since Flash is the only piece of non-64-bit code that ships with the current systems. Wonder when (or if) Adobe will get around to making Flash 64-bit? Snow Leopard shipped in May as fully 64-bit. I’ll bet even M$ Office ships 64-bit before Adobe does. Who wants to put this type of “feature” into your operating system and have people experience it? I’d rather explain “this site is not supported” than “this code doesn’t work on this machine” any day. The first is an intentional decision to not use poorly-supported code. The second makes it look like you can’t support something, which is your fault, not the other guy’s.

    The iPad is all-Apple, and will stand or fail on that. The processor, the design, the OS, the battery technology – everything is done by Apple, and this means a lot. It means a lot to the customer calling for tech support, talking with someone who can give them real answers. It means a lot to someone developing apps, when they know the exact performance specs of the machines that will execute their code. And it means a lot for people buying apps, that they don’t have to worry if it’s going to hijack their banking information or something.

    Apple is not worried about the edge cases. If you want Flash, don’t buy an iPhone, iPod Touch, or an iPad. Get a Droid or an HP Slate. If you want open apps, go for an Android phone or something with WebOS. If you want something that is more prurient – well, there are many sources for that, even on the iPhone. Just no apps. But don’t talk about anti-competitive behavior in the same sentence. By allowing for edge cases, Apple is saying “We’re going to try and meet the needs of the great majority of people. We think they will be delighted beyond measure. There is plenty of room for others to make a market for themselves out of those who want cheaper, or more open, or Flash-enabled, or non-proprietary-cable-using devices. We’re making this for those who want elegance, a certain level of battery life, tested applications from a trusted source, and world-class support and service. For this type of device, we’re going to charge quite a reasonable price, compared with what it would cost to cobble together this package elsewhere.”

    And remember – the iPad is going to ship pretty much as it was demonstrated last month. The demo unit that Jobs used was not a lab-assembled test case. It is what’s being sent to the FCC for compliance testing. The Slate tablets and other devices shown by Steve Ballmer at CES aren’t even in the product pipeline at this point. They were all prototypes and proofs of concept. Project Natal has an approximate date set (Holiday 2010), but who remembers the last time Microsoft actually met a ship date on a new product?

    So, as the time nears for the actual launch of the iPad, when you see lines forming at Apple stores, don’t think it’s all fan-boys and fan-girls. You may just see the neighbor you have been helping to rid their PC of viruses, your mother or grandmother, and your competitor, who’s trying to find a faster, easier way to get at the information they want, without the hassle of a “real” computer. This is going to be the computing device for those who don’t like to learn computers.

  54. 54
    James says:

    @Smythe Richbourg: Just some corrections

    1) You have a point on your criticism of Flash, it is 32bit, Adobe may indeed be dragging their heels to not rush support for computers that account for just around 10% of the market, and Adobe is known for being slow fixing and updating Flash.

    But it is also true that Apple prevents full access to its API and without that access no 3rd party developer can make a bug free version of their app for Apple systems. So it’s a mix bag…

    Really, review all public statements made by Apple on Flash and you will definitely not get the impression they ever wanted it on their system. And why would they when they got their own versions they want everyone to use?

    Apple won’t even let developers use the word Android for example, http://thegadgetgurus.net/2010/02/05/apple-you-cant-use-the-word-android-in-app-description/

    Or the infamous “don’t-duplicate-Apple-products” policy that Apple forces developers of the Apple App Store to follow.

    Btw, Adobe does have a 64-bit Flash Player 10 prerelease for Linux. http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashplayer10/releasenotes_64bit.html

    And they expect to provide native support for across the board 64-bit platforms in an upcoming release of Flash Player following the release of Flash Player 10.1, which is also addressing the security threats. So they are very slow but they aren’t really ignoring the problems.

    2) The cable issue isn’t about changing the iPod style connector. People just want less cables and not more. The lack of standard ports just means you need more cables and more adapters. Even if you just want to use a SD card or USB drive.

    3) Unlike the iPhone and iTouch, an external power pack for the iPad won’t be an insignificant increase in mass and bulk. Potentially negating the iPad’s otherwise advantageous form factor and weight.

    4) Limiting/locking the device is not trying to “meet the needs of the majority of people.” It’s open source products that try to do that but the iPad is more of a niche product, which is perfectly fine if they can find a market for it. Like you implied, if people want something else then get something else.

    Other than those 4 points though you may indeed be right.

    Pre-orders may just be a week away from being allowed. So soon we shall see actual numbers and the speculation can end as to whether the iPad will succeed or fail.

    http://netbookboards.com/2010/02/21/ipad-pre-orders-may-start-this-week/

  55. 55

    Something to consider, if you’re going to use Flash on the Mac as an example. Why should Adobe devote development resources to improving Flash performance on the Mac at this point, when Apple has been snubbing them for a few years now, especially now that with the iPad, Apple is more or less explicitly saying “the web doesn’t really need Flash any more”? Am I surprised that Flash on the Mac still sucks? Not at all… if I was Adobe I certainly wouldn’t be putting any effort into it.

    On cables — the micro USB connector is now an ITU standard for charging mobile devices, and pretty much every handset maker except Apple has signed on. They don’t need to change the iPod connector, but you would think they could find room on the iPad for the micro USB as well. But then you could use generic charging accessories, instead of paying the iPod tax… never mind.

    Whether the iPad will succeed is not in question — it will, I’m sure. Whether that success will be a good or bad thing, however… unfortunately I fear the latter, because it will reinforce Apple’s control fetish. Oh well, it’s Steve’s world, we’re just lucky to live in it I guess…

  56. 56
    Daniel McNutt says:

    Reading the last few comments I learned that KenS has room for batteries in his travel bag, but not cables. :) Good points all around.

  57. 57
    Palaemon says:

    @Rob Tillotson

    wow.

    Something to consider, if you’re going to use Flash on the Mac as an example. Why should Adobe devote development resources to improving Flash performance on the Mac at this point, when Apple has been snubbing them for a few years now, especially now that with the iPad, Apple is more or less explicitly saying “the web doesn’t really need Flash any more”? Am I surprised that Flash on the Mac still sucks? Not at all… if I was Adobe I certainly wouldn’t be putting any effort into it.

    – Adobe’s (arguably) most popular suite is Adobe CS. Mac OSX has been 64-bit since Tiger (2005) and moreover in Leopard (2007.) Adobe supported 64-bit for Windows in CS4 (2008) and is expected to (finally) support 64-bit Mac OSX by mid-2010 (CS5.)

    – If there is an issue (snubbing) between the two, it’s not one-sided.

    – And how exactly would flash work on a touch-based device? you need to be able to “hover-over” to use the menus. Flash would need to be completely redesigned AND all sites using flash would have to re-fitted. What about right-click? and so forth…
    It’s made for a mouse and keyboard. Apple couldn’t magically make it work even if it wanted to.

    On cables — the micro USB connector is now an ITU standard for charging mobile devices, and pretty much every handset maker except Apple has signed on. They don’t need to change the iPod connector, but you would think they could find room on the iPad for the micro USB as well. But then you could use generic charging accessories, instead of paying the iPod tax… never mind.

    – The Dock Connector does more than charge, it’s way more versatile than a simple USB port. And you want an *additional* micro USB port? That’s crazy.

    Whether the iPad will succeed is not in question — it will, I’m sure. Whether that success will be a good or bad thing, however… unfortunately I fear the latter, because it will reinforce Apple’s control.

    – I think “Apple’s Control” as you put it, is why the iPhone/iPT works. The app store is simple and easy to use. Updating your device is literally just plug it into your computer. If you d/l an app from the app store, it’s just going to work. I think continuing this “model” for a tablet device was smart.

  58. 58

    As for how Flash would work on a mobile device. Once again, this is a ploy to distract from the real issue. That there might be some technical issues to deal with once Flash is ported to the i* platform is not a reason for Apple to prevent Adobe from even trying. Bringing up UI issues is completely irrelevant, because Adobe’s ability or inability to adapt Flash to touch screens would be their problem, not Apple’s. (Also, I bet they already have a solution for that, given that they most likely have Flash already ported internally.)

    All of the arguments over Flash performance are not only based on speculation (since none of us actually knows how well it would run on the i* platform, unless we have an Adobe developer among us who is willing to break his company’s NDA), but are basically just a way of saying it’s okay that Steve bans things arbitrarily, for his own reasons based on remaining a tight fist of control on his platform, as long as we can be convinced that we didn’t really want them in the first place.

    That’s what it comes down to. I don’t need or want a “benevolent” dictator telling me and third party developers what options I should be allowed, or not allowed, to have on the hardware I own. I don’t need daddy Steve to protect me from the choices I might make out in the big bad world of the software marketplace, but that’s certainly what the “Flash performance sucks” argument sounds like. It really sounds like “well, you think you want Flash, but if you had it you’d find out you didn’t, and isn’t it great that Steve is preventing you from making such a bad choice?” Feh. I can make up my own mind, thank you very much.

    On the USB port. Yes, I do want an additional micro USB port. It’s not a matter of what the dock connector can do, it’s that the micro USB is now the ITU standard for mobile device charging connectors, with every major device maker (except Apple) on board to completely eliminate proprietary charging connectors by 2012. But as usual, Apple has to be different, probably because even if you use a micro USB to dock connector adapter, that still means someone paid the Apple tax for the authentication chip inside it…

  59. 59
    Palaemon says:

    @Rob Tillotson

    You’re right. All the talk about why flash is not on the iDevices is pure speculation. But you sure seem to “know” why it isn’t…

    “June 29, 2009 – Apple, others agree to universal cell phone charger standard in Europe”
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-10274953-94.html

    Who thinks that Apple will sell TWO versions of the iPhone? But I guess none of this matter for the iPod Touch or the iPad since they are not cell phones.

  60. 60
    David Schwartz says:

    I think you missed the main objection to the iPad and, IMO, the main problem with it — it’s a walled garden. Apple has already demonstrated that they will arbitrarily and maliciously remove applications that don’t fit their strategic vision.

  61. 61
    Palaemon says:

    The iPhone has been a “walled garden” since day one. Considering how popular it is, I don’t think most people see that as a “main problem.”

    I’m sure removing apps that are basically ads for a competing phone (Droid) or sexually suggestive apps (iBoobies) is a “slippery slope,” but who cares? That stuff is stupid. If I wanted complete control over what my phone/tablet does and can have, THAT is where I have choice. The sky is not falling.

  62. 62
    David Schwartz says:

    What about software updates that intentionally cause devices to fail to work if they’ve been switched to phone networks that compete with their allies?

    Sorry, if I’m going to shell out hundreds of dollars for a device, I want to own it. I don’t want the manufacturer to keep an interest.

    This is not just a matter of principle.

  63. 63
    James says:

    @Palaemon “The iPhone has been a “walled garden” since day one. Considering how popular it is, I don’t think most people see that as a “main problem.””

    -This is mostly true, but the iPhone is mainly only popular in the states. Nokia has a far larger share of the world market.

    But it’s a mistake to assume the iPad will be successful just because the iPhone and iTouch were. Despite the similarities it is a different device that won’t be used in the exact same way as the others.

    Simple truth of the matter is people expect more from larger and more expensive devices. So it is unlikely the iPad will do as well as the iPhone/iTouch.

    It’s just a question if they can do well enough to still be a success or not.

  64. 64
    Chris says:

    I think it’s strange that I hear many people defending the non-inclusion of flash, this article included, as if a touch screen interface and flash are incompatible. Where would the mouse cursor be?

    There are several PC touch screens and non apple touch screen phones that all operate with flash, the cursor just hangs out when it’s not in use and reappears with a double touch. I personally think the iPad maybe be useful, but at present it’s overpriced and underpowered and the idea that flash and a touchscreen is incompatible is just patently false.

  65. 65
    Andy Simmons says:

    Chris, what you are describing is a touch screen device in which your touch is simply moving a mouse pointer, which places a level of abstraction between the user and the software. This is a horrible, horrible interface, and it is exactly the reason that tablet computing has been a no-go up until this point.

    What you’re basically saying is that Flash would be usable on the iPad if Apple were to abandon the very thing that people like most about it, the cursorless touch interface. This is like saying that the RIAA could fix all of their “piracy” problems by switching back to selling nothing but vinyl records.

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