iPad thoughts

Because my opinion is more considered than yours:

  • Let’s first set aside the name jokes. Yes, it’s bad. Part of me wonders how the name is greeted internationally; Americans have a tendency to narrowly use words in specific contexts. Maybe “pad” plays differently elsewhere.
  • The underwhelmed reaction to the iPad is a testament to two things: 1) the stilting nature of hype (more on that later); and 2) the degree to which the iPhone is a device at least three years ahead of its time. People are dismissing the iPad as “merely” a giant iPhone. What kind of insult is that? “Why, this new product is just like that other product that overnight transformed expectations of mobile devices and mobile computing, except this one has a much nicer screen, runs much faster, and has more software. Meh.” Imagine for a second if the iPhone was never released. How amazing is the iPad as a brand new PC? Multitouch gestures. Incredibly slick software, app ecosystem, and engineering. Does anything on the market come close? The fact that the iPhone came FIRST seems almost backwards. It’s like the iPad, the best tablet computer ever made to this date, but fits in your pocket and it makes phone calls!
  • Feel free to calculate the size of the entire netbook market, and add it to the Apple’s next quarterly revenue. Who the fuck would now buy a shitty laptop with this product priced so aggressively? The $499 starter price is transcendental.
  • God, I hate “hype”. Yes, Let me build up a product with incessant chatter fueled by nothing more than my own speculation and curiousity, and then cynically dismiss the product as “overhyped” when it finally is released, and decry and blame the product itself for failing to meet expectations generated without encouragment from the product maker. The same fate befell the Segway, which people still dismiss as an overhyped bust. Dean Kamen never said a single word to generate the anticipation it had; and when it was finally released: thud. (even tho it remains a brilliant invention for individuals of limited mobility).

This product release destroyed my afternoon productivity so excuse me if I am feeling a bit loquacious. I probably have more to say. Anyone want to chime in with other conventional thoughts that I can rebut?

Update (2010 Jan 28) more thoughts:

  • One of the more common questions I hear is, “What the hell is this for?” or “What does this do that I can’t do with my laptop or my iPhone?”1   Okay, at least about once a month, before I became an asshole, I used to receive an e-mail from some friend asking for a laptop recommendation.  My first question, besides budget, would be: “What are your needs?  What are you going to do with it?”  The answer was almost always:  “Oh, you know.  Nothing crazy.  Just need something with which to check my e-mail, surf the web, and listen to music.”  In many ways, there’s your iPad market.  I’m fairly convinced there’s no more pleasant way to surf the web than holding a tablet in your hands, but I won’t know for sure until March.
  • Corollary to above:  do you know who recently told me,  “just need something with which to check my e-mail, surf the web”?  My parents.  I would buy my parents an iPad in a second.  I know you are all myopic millennials who don’t pay attention to other people, but have you ever seen a person older than 50 use a computer?  It’s painful.  When they want to scroll, they gently move the mouse down to the scroll bar– almost… almost… too far… where is it… oh yes. ah.  Click.  They maximize the window they’re using, even when it looks absurd on a 22″ widescreen flat panel.   When they log into websites, they squint to make sure the cursor is in the box, then they stare down at the keyboard to type their login/password, not realizing it when they are accidentally type in the wrong box. They sure as hell as are not firing up Adobe Photoshop.  The simplicity and size and handling of the iPad fits them.  It inherits the renowned accessibility features of the iPhone. (Also, I sure as hell won’t have to obliterate the OS every 6 months because of some malware they’ve picked up.)  I’m telling you, the baby-boomer birthdays/anniversaries/Xmas will be GANGBUSTER for the iPad.2
  • As disappointed as some are in the iPad, I am disappointed in their disappointment.  The general geek criticism sounds like this (feel free to read in a droll, gum-smacking voice): “no multitasking, no flash, no video camera OMG not even a regular camera, big ugly bezel [???], no HDMI out, PASS.”  I would have thought after the infamous “No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.“, people would stop criticizing new products this way.  Guess not.  My own criticism is that the device isn’t radical enough.  I could care less about feature checklists.  I want more crazy multi-touch gestures, more connectivity.  I want a special on-screen keyboard that I can use to type one-handed while I hold the iPad with the other hand (no really).  I just want something from the future.  Does Jobs really think this device is more magical than the iPhone?  Maybe only in the way in that this product a new category of products that Apple is dedicated to making and supporting for the long haul.  It indicates how computers may operate in the future: filesystem completely abstracted away from users; computer linked to a spending account, wireless connectivity from anywhere.
  1. The lack of immediately clear market indicates to me that Apple may bust open a completely untapped market. (If you said, “Oh, right, this product is an X,” chances are there is already a competitor sitting there.) []
  2. Just as, according to my pet theory, the iPod was massively successful because it was the PERFECT graduation gift for parents and relatives to give to high school seniors.  Cool enough, expensive enough, and you knew they would love it. []

5 Comments

  • ZvS Says:

    That $499 is pretty harsh, though, because of Apple’s gall in charging for storage. My netbook may not be sexy, but it does have a 150GB hard drive, and is significantly cheaper and twice as fast. (And about 1/8″ thicker.) What’s the excuse for flash memory that costs more than its USB equivalent? Can’t wait to see the first revision to the pricing model.

    I was more excited about the cheap, no-contract unlimited data plan (even if it is from AT&T) — that’s exciting if you ask me. And the battery life, although apparently Kindle’s is way better? Maybe I could start running Android on my netbook, get my interface jollies, and save five hundred bucks.

    (my favorite comment: “Just glue a 3G WAP to the back and save $100 on the GSM modem”)

  • angelle Says:

    i don’t know much about the ipad other than my quick perusal of the website, but i have to agree with above comment. my netbook has 160 GB of space and cost about $200. it’s not fancy schmancy, but it does the job. i also have an ipod touch which is convenient to throw in my purse when i’m out just to check emails etc. what’s the purpose of the ipad? as a writer, i can’t see myself typing out a novel on that touch keyboard, constantly undoing the autocorrect or else having to correct an unautocorrected word. my netbook is for my work. my ipod touch is for all that fun stuff the ipad does. so where does the ipad fit in?

    i do have to say you’re right about the idea that if the iphone had never come out, this would be major WHOA.

  • Selfish Crab Says:

    Regarding pricing, I know it is tempting to look at that chart, see the difference between 16GB and 32GB and say, Apple is price gauging for a 16GB flash memory upgrade. However, I generally interpret the price differences as Apple’s way of incorporating the cost of engineering and design as a percentage of the total price. Like letting those willing to pay the most subsidize the cost of engineering/design for those that can only afford the least. Is that too much a stretch? In general, though, I dislike it when people tally up the costs of electrical component parts, subtract from the sales price, neglect the cost of engineering/design, and submit to outrage about obscene profit-taking.

    Also, I know jack about solid-state drives, but aren’t their read/write speeds more advanced than what’s in a typical USB flash drive?

  • ZvS Says:

    They’re faster, but not because of the intrinsic properties of the flash memory (which I think is pretty much always the same), but because they’re over a fast internal bus rather than USB2 (which is not all that bad). That said, they also become less functional with age much faster than standard devices, which is why plug-and-play is nice.

    My netbook actually had an option for a 128GB solid state drive from the manufacturer (HP), which would have driven the price up to be very similar to that of the iPad, although with a bigger drive.

    Despite my whining, though, I will totally go to the Apple store and ogle it when it comes out.

  • Mung Says:

    What a lively discussion this is generating! Crab, I agree with your thoughts Re: pricing and the +16 GB price “gouge”. My thoughts were always that with Apple products, the max capacity models were for suckers. But you’re right — it’s really just an option for those willing to pay more, sort of like trim levels on a new car.

    Nonetheless, I think the base level 16GB of storage is more than enough for a mobile device*. Why do I need all this storage when I’ll have connectivity? Storing my entire media collection is not the answer. Streaming it is (or will be). A 16GB buffer is plenty big to keep me satiated with media in between connectivity dead zones. Also, I view high capacity mobile storage as a liability. In the event of theft or equipment failure, I would rather say byebye to 16GB of locally cached data rather than my 160GB of poorly backed up personal archives.

    Also, are we not witnessing the “thin client” / “cloud computing” revolution silently take form in its own way? Highly specialized devices for highly specialized tasks. Why not netbooks alongside iPads? My geek fantasy household: rack server, boxee box, and iPads/netbooks for all.

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