Justifying the iPad: The Single Discordant Note in Steve’s Presentation

69 Comments

I watched, along with my fellow writers and everyone else in the tech community (and beyond) as Steve Jobs unveiled the Apple iPad. And what he revealed was a very beautiful thing, with an aesthetically gorgeous design and a seemingly amazing user interface. But is it precious?

By that I mean, in the true sense of the term, will the iPad be an intensely attractive thing that is briefly coveted and then forgotten? Right now, the general sense from the tech press is that Jobs has done good, and that very few will be able to avoid picking one of these up when they become available in the next two or three months. But will that enthusiasm transfer to the general public?

I’m not the only one who isn’t so sure about that, judging by Steve Jobs’ performance at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts today. Sure, he showed off the iPad’s capabilities with the showmanship of the veteran salesman that he is, but he also framed the presentation in a way that struck me as odd. It almost seemed more like a stockholder speech than the unveiling of an exciting new device to an eager public.

First, he established where the product was needed. He visually created a new category in which the iPad fit, which is something many bloggers and tech writers had been wondering about. It makes sense to address it once, and after having discussed the success of your existing platforms. The connection is understood, and once you demo the device, people will see why they need or want this device. Problem solved.

But not in the eyes of Jobs, apparently. The end of his presentation today was essentially a drawn-out justification of why Apple’s iPad is, in fact, a viable platform, and not just an ultra-niche device that most consumers could easily do without. “Do we have what it takes to establish a third category of products?” That’s what Steve Jobs asked rhetorically at the close of his presentation, but was it a rhetorical question, or is Apple actually unsure?

Let’s make one thing clear: I want an iPad. I want everyone to want one so that we can use them creatively together. But I also wanted a Sony Reader and a Kindle. I want a chumby. I want all kinds of things that ordinary people would never dream of wanting. The iPad, if I try to look at it dispassionately, is essentially a media player that’s too large to carry around comfortably in your pocket, too small to be preferable for movie viewing to your TV, and could even represent a significant recurring money drain if you get 3G service. It’s an e-reader, yes, but by and large, people aren’t yet really lining up to get at those.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that if anyone can make this kind of product commercially viable, it’s Apple. All I’m saying is that if even Steve Jobs has to seemingly go out of his way to justify its existence, then how can I possibly avoid doing the same?

69 Comments

geancarlo

I think that it’s going to be what I call a “Social Networking Device”.

It’s not really a computer…do you can’t get anything done in it.
It’s not a phone, cuz you cant call anyone.
It’s not an ereader…cuz it does other stuff too.
It’s not a game console, cuz it’s not made by Nintendo or Sony.

So I guess the only option is to call it a Social Networking Device

It’s a teeny bit larger than a MID/smartphone, but a teeny bit smaller than a computer.

What can you do with it?
– Check your Facebook/Myspace
– Update your twitter
– Use any networking apps in the iTunes store (LinkedIN, ebuddy, etc)
– Play simple 5 minute games while at lunch, waiting at the doctor’s office or bus stop
– Read a book without squinting.

However, it’s still in it’s baby phase…much like the first iPhone…with slow EDGE and crappy storage. I’ll wait for the second/third generation…when Apple finally irons out the details, adds a cam and puts flash or something on it.

Rich

“But I also wanted a Sony Reader and a Kindle. I want a chumby. I want all kinds of things that ordinary people would never dream of wanting.”

I agree totally.

connectionfailure

my goodness will you people stop invoking the Flash thing. Why do you think you need it so badly? Are you Flash developers? Are you developing in Flash because you picked it or did someone else pick it for you because they wanted to do stuff you couldn’t do with CSS at the time?
Apple says it’s the #1 cause of crashes in browsers. The only reason I need Flash is when some site has made their content available only in Flash the same way they made it only available for InternetExplorer for WIndows several years ago.
Adobe has a newer platform, AIR, which does some interesting stuff. Not once have I heard any mention of running AIR apps on the iPhone. You heard it here first people.

Newstech

The problem is not that users love Flash, it’s that, for better or worse, many sites are dependent on it.

Caroline

It is a beautiful creation. I’d get one if not for the absence of flash. But I think its a good start. Hopefully the newer models would incorporate some of the features consumers want.

iPad Malaysia review

Scott

There was never a chance of Flash on this thing, and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. It’s a performance pig, and Apple seems to hate it on mobile devices for that or whatever reason.

The lack of a camera is a big who cares if you’re talking about a photo camera. This is not a form factor that lends itself to photography. If you’re talking about a forward facing cam, that would be nice, but I think people are just whining about it because they had it on a feature list more than that they would actually ever use it. I can’t remember the last time I used the isight on my macbook pro.

Christian

For many not computer-savvy people the iPad will be heaven!

No login, no keyboard, no mouse to live with.
Their photos import with no hazzle as soon as they connect the camera.
Email setup will be almost painless – as on iphone. Web browsing and mobile reading will get popular.

Customers i see for this: my parents, my uncle, my wife and so on…

All people that do not want to learn a computer like we do with a real pleasure. For many the people “the internet” only consists of web browsing and email.

All other stuff that is currently missing on the iPad there’s gonna be a app for!

Apple’s challengers in this market come too late and as almost always with half breed ugly products having no complete solution.
Apple’s nailed it once again. Give a year or two – the other companies are just to lazy or dumb (Hello MS – sleep on ;-))!

David

The product looks great but, it won’t replace my laptop since I still need the thing to visit multimedia sites like netflix’s and hulu. Untill the ipad gets these it won’t be a better Internet machine. :(

it costs too much

iPad has only one problem:

it costs too much

I know, I know, it offers more than an iPhone or iPod touch, and a lot faster too, plus all the screen real estate, and it’s a great ebook reader

BUT–it doesn’t give anyone anything they can’t already do with their other devices, so why purchase yet another one?

Allan

Just as the iPhone/iTouch became a success due to the involvement of 3rd party developers, the iPad’s success will also depend on these same developers.

Apple has provided a platform, and as long as they listen to developers and continue to refresh the product, it’s just a matter of time before a killer app or business model appears.

Fatman Ballmer

chimpwinter: welcome to an Apple blog :)

this appliance is fast, fast, fast. my mom will get one.

Silver Fox

The iPad seems perfect for my needs. Before defending that stament, let me state for the record: I’m not an Apple fanboy; I don’t track Apple daily on the web; in fact, I’m only on this forum today because I heard Apple was announcing the iPad and I wanted to see what it was about. I’m just a guy who will buy the best product that fits my needs. I switched two years ago from PC to Mac, and also bought an iPhone at the same time, simply because they seemed to better solutions than what I owned at the time. Over the last two years, the iPhone and the Mac have indeed proven to better meet my needs.

However, no sooner did I get the feel for my new products than I began hankering for a larger iPhone-like device that would let me do some light productivity, let me read books and let me display my lecture notes. And lo and behold, this iPad seems to fit the bill. With the iWork for iPad apps, I’m set on the light productivity side. With the eBookstore, I should be able to read books in a format that I can now share with my Mac and iPhone. And, finally, the size of the tablet will allow me to display my lecture notes so that I can see them clearly while I speak. I had tried that with my iPhone, but it was too small. I had also tried to deliver lectures with my MacBook Pro, but it chained me to the spot where the laptop was sitting. Now I can range freely, glancing at my full-page notes on the iPad, while I lecture.

So, hurrah for the iPad!

Galley

An iPad with 3G service would be perfect for my Dad. All he does is watch stocks, e-mail and view photos. He’s always having problems with his POS Toshiba laptop.

Don

Overall, think it’s a good first start. My mom would be happy with one of these to send email, Facebook the grandkids, etc. Me – there’s potential, but I’ll wait for (i) printing to my AirPort connected printers; (ii) the ability to mount the AirPort Extreme and my MacBook’s hard drive via Back-to-My Mac and access any file I need while out on the road via WiFi or 3G.

Don

Also – let me Wirelessly control my Mac via screen sharing, etc. A camera would be nice for iChat video chat while on the road, even if it only is available while on WiFi.

I see great potential, but only if it acts a little more like a computer. I accept the current limitations on my iPhone, but I doubt I’d be as forgiving with an iPad. It should be able to talk to my Macs and retrieve information from them wherever I am.

As I said, nice first iteration, I’ll wait for something a little more substantial, that for me is the killer device.

bob

Perhaps he’s repeating himself so that he doesn’t get the flack that he got with the Mac Air. I too was hoping for a x86 based device i could put mac apps on but this might make a nice replacement for the kindle and netbook. We just need to get firefox on it :-)

I’ve been telling friends that no matter what they release it will be hard to live up to the hype.

It will be interesting to see what the competition has to say about this. I think that the netbook market is a bit less of the competition at this point and the windows tablets are definitely in a different class.

They got iWork on it so here’s hoping someone will get other apps on it.

It should be pretty impressive when it’s Jailbroken.

Frank

I’m a big Apple fan. But I was hoping this would be an updated Newton.

Jeremy

I totally agree. I just finshed watching a software recap video of the Newton and found its handwriting recognition to be phenomenal. (By today’s standards, let alone 1997’s!!) I really don’t see why Apple went with this virtual keuboard approach when they so obviously had a superior text entry method with writing recognition.

sy

I’m surprised they went with the portrait orientation as a “default”, by which I mean that they’ve placed the home button and the dock connector along the shorter side.

The landscape orientation would be more fitting for the keyboard dock accessory. Rotate your notebook right now, and you’ll see that the portrait orientation does not really work with the keyboard dock. It would be better even for the plain dock accessory, for that matter – the photo frame mode would simply look better in landscape.

Another consideration is that once you’ve placed the home button, you’ve also placed the [future] front-facing camera (opposite of the home button). But video-chatting also makes more sense in a landscape orientation.

So this choice of orientation is really puzzling to me. It takes some useful things away, and it doesn’t add anything in return. Why did they do it this way?

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