I eagerly watched the so-called Live feeds for the special Apple event today where they announced the iPad. The hype over this device has been huge, and the magical Apple reality distortion field was in full effect at the presentation. The reporters I was following were drooling all over the device, and doing their best to transmit that drool electronically to my computer screen so I could drool too.
But, their drool sorta freaked me out, so I cleaned off my screen and took a few steps back.
What has Apple really produced here? Most likely you are already familiar with the specifications of the device, so I’ll dive straight into why I think this device will be a mostly massive flop:
- No Camera. I can’t imagine what Apple was thinking when they left off a camera on this device. The possibilities of video chat, real-time photo capture-edit-publish, video capture and editing, etc could have all been a reality if they’d only included a camera.
- No Tactile Feedback. I admit that I type most of the day, and I am used to and expect some tactile feedback. I’ve used lots of keyboards over the years, and I can’t imagine wanting to type for long on the on-screen keyboard. Yes, yes, you may point out that they have an external keyboard stand thingie, but at that point I ask why you are not just using a laptop?
- File System Management? How do I put files onto the thing? How do I get files off the thing? If I want to work on that spreadsheet or presentation for work while I’m on a flight or waiting at the dentists office, does it sync with my .mac account in some fashion, or so I have to push files to / from it manually?
- iPhone OS. As an iPhone developer, it’s obvious to me why they chose to use the iPhone OS on this device, but the compromise this forces on the user are great enough that I think many people will opt for a laptop rather than this tablet: There is no multi-tasking. You can *only* install apps approved from the app store (unless you jailbreak it, at your own risk), etc.
- No Flash. How long has it been since the first iPhone came out with what was supposed to be the worlds best mobile browsing experience – but it had no flash. They still have no flash support. There are many popular sites that I can’t use on an iPad due to this limitation.
- Size. Let’s face it – you don’t want to try to cram this thing into a pocket…. it’s just too big. I currently take my iPod Touch with me everywhere because it fits easily in a pocket. With it I can surf the web, read email, read books (if I want my eyes to bleed), connect with friends, remotely control other computers, and all the rest that comes with the iPhone OS. What does the iPad bring to the table? Larger size, so it won’t fit in my pocket, so I don’t want to kep with me all the time.
In short, I think this product does not fit well between a laptop and an iPhone, because it is less functional than an iPhone (no camera, no phone), less functional than a laptop (iPhone OS), too big to drag around with me everywhere, and missing any compelling feature to make me want to choose it over an iPod Touch.
There is a reason that there has been a long history of tablet computer failures – and I’m afraid that the iPad is destined to be added to the heap of those that have come and gone before.
I’d love to hear your take on this – leave some comments!
I don’t believe we’re the target market 🙂
The camera is a real headscratcher. My best guess (similar to copy-paste on the iPhone) is that it wasn’t quite right, and Jobs won’t stand for tolerable. I could see it being awkward to having to hold the device just so to get the camera pointed at the right thing, making it feel less casual and having the user respond to the device instead of the device serve the user. So they left it out. Even then, I would’ve left it in just for the potential and utility (and the cool things developers would do with it).
Yawner is a bit strong, and I personally don’t like the iPhone OS direction–though from Apple’s viewpoint it makes tons of sense. But as a developer–too restrictive.
But for the casual computer user who is looking at a netbook to just surf the web and check email, I think the pure simplicity and experience of this thing will stand up very well against a $350 netbook. There are going to be plenty of apps in the app store for the tasks they want. And at $499 (which really shocked me), it borders on affordable. However, the netbook market is very price sensitive and doesn’t understand value well.
I think it will find a market, but have a hard time seeing it becoming wildly popular like the iPhone. But I would recommend this to many of my relatives who I provide tech support for. Modern computers (even Macs sometimes) are just too complex for them to manage on their own. This they could probably handle most of the time. Whether they would actually buy one ….