I’ve waited a couple days now to comment on Apple’s latest product, the iPad. I typically don’t like being “that guy”, evangelizing Apple to other people. I know the company isn’t infallible, but really how many companies out there are? The iPad is definitely flawed, but I don’t think it is flawed for many of the reasons people are currently crucifying it for.
This was the first thing that people seemed to have gone off on. In the last 3 days everyone seems to have made the obvious feminine hygiene product jokes. We laughed. Stupid Apple. But didn’t we say the same thing about the Nintendo Wii? It was stupid. Everyone made all the obvious urination jokes. Boy was the Wii a failure. Oh, wait, no it wasn’t. It’s gone on to sell almost double the amount of units of it’s nearest competitor. So in the end, people will get over an unfortunate name and they won’t even bat an eye when you mention iPad.
It’s just an oversized iPhone
I’ve heard quite a few people complain about how the iPad is running “just” the iPhone OS. The problem with this argument is that it’s more then likely being used by people who have never used a tablet PC. To put it simply, a full operating system like Windows or OS X isn’t meant to be used on a touchscreen. Stuff like scroll bars and tiny interface buttons don’t work or make sense on a touchscreen. This is the reason why most tablet PCs use a stylus, as your fingers are too inaccurate for controlling a touch screen. And more then likely this is a good reason why tablet PCs have never really taken off, as they tried to put a square peg in a round hole by offering a desktop OS on a touchscreen device.
Apple was among the first, if not the first to offer a proper touchscreen experience on a mobile phone. It’s been an obvious success as they essentially revolutionized the phone industry and caused every other manufacturer to take note and create similar touchscreen devices. They’ve already proven the iPhone OS is a winning touchscreen solution, why not have it running on the iPad?
But how will you get any real work done on this thing?
The reality here is that this isn’t even being positioned as a work machine. I think the definition of “real work” for most people would have the requirement of being able to type. If you were expecting to be able to code websites or type the next great novel you were probably barking up the wrong tree in the first place. This device is meant as an entertainment device. The type of thing you can surf the internet on while watching TV. Given the explosion of smartphones we have become a generation of multi-taskers as these devices have enabled us to passively answer emails, send a quick tweet or browse the web from anywhere in the world, including the living room sofa. Nobody complains that they can’t get any real work done on an iPod Touch. It’s simply not the reason why 99% of people bought the device in the first place.
The fact that this device starts at $499 should also tell you this isn’t meant as a workstation. This item is meant to compete with something like the Amazon Kindle DX, which retails for $489 US. People are willing to spend that kind of money on a Kindle, so you can be sure the public would be willing to spend the money on something like an iPad.
It’s too expensive
I’ve heard people complain about the price as well. This is possibly the most ridiculous complaint out of them all. Here’s a chart for the device pricing.
People complaining about the pricing are the types who don’t actually know the true cost of devices like the iPhone and similar smartphone devices. But the iPhone 3G is only $199, this is so much more expensive they might say. The fact is that is the subsidized price offered by cell phone carriers. Without a contract an iPhone costs much more. On eBay a new, unlocked 16GB iPhone 3GS sells for roughly $500 US, and $650 to $700 for the 32GB model. So you can see Apple’s pricing is quite close to being inline with the real market values of similar current generation iPhones.
I already have an iPhone, what’s the point of it?
The iPhone is a great device, but it’s not ideal for all types of browsing. Something I did this morning was fill out an online form to get tickets to an upcoming event that had been promoted through Twitter. I wasn’t quite ready to get out of bed yet, so I filled the form out using my iPhone. As I’m sure anyone whose used an iPhone or iPod Touch for filling out forms you know there just isn’t enough room on the screen to fit the keyboard and see which form box you’re filling in sometimes. This would be a piece of cake using a 10″ screen to browse the page. Another thing I instantly thought of was using an iPad in the kitchen. I like to look up recipes online, but find it a pain to actually use that info in my kitchen. I don’t have a printer(nor really want one), so I either write down the recipe on paper by hand, haul our 15.5″ Toshiba laptop into the kitchen(where it takes up valuable real estate) or I look it up on the iPhone. None of these solutions is ideal. This is exactly where the iPad comes in.
The iPad is far from perfect, but I think it’s a good start. I feel Apple made some boneheaded decisions (no USB, SD, 4×3 screen resolution among others) but the concept definitely has promise. Looking at devices like the first Eee PC netbook or the first generation Kindle have shown companies don’t always hit a home run with their first attempt, but people will buy into the concept none the less.
I think many people have gotten caught up with years of rumour mongering about this mystical Apple tablet that it could do little else but disappoint. They could have announced the iPad came with a free unicorn and the public still would have been letdown by the announcement. People had the perception that this device was going to meet all of their personal computing needs, so when it failed to meet those lofty expectations they have essentially thrown it under the bus instead of looking at what Apple is actually offering.
Sure this device isn’t going to be for everyone, but my guess is that it’ll be another Apple success once people actually have a chance to use it and figure out the value of the device. So lets take a chill pill and wait until April when you’re actually able to go to a store and try one out.