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The iPad May Change Computing, Just Not Your Life

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The first time you walk into an Apple Store and pick up an iPad, you’ll understand the hype: Apple has managed to create a beautiful, thoughtfully designed, compelling product in a space where mediocrity was, until now, status quo. But odds are you probably won’t buy one — at least not yet. And that’s OK.

For despite the high level of anticipation for and proclamations associated with the launch of the Apple device, the fact remains that outside of a few select vertical uses (like medicine), tablets are constrained by their own form factor, stuck in the nether realm between productivity and portability. Standing onstage during the device’s unveiling, Steve Jobs himself posed a question that acutely underscores the tablet dilemma: Is there room for a third category of product that sits between your two most essential devices, the laptop and phone? As much as I’m looking forward to the iPad, I’m still not sure there is.

To date, no one’s been able to scale tablets as a core personal computing product, though it’s certainly not for lack of effort. Just about every player in the electronics world has given tablets a go, from Nokia with its Maemo-based N-series Internet communicators to Dell with its Android-based mini-slates to all manner of Windows-based convertible and slate tablet PCs. But the problem with all of them — and the iPad may also be included — isn’t that they’ve been unable to offer fundamentally differentiated experiences from the devices we already own and carry.

Think back to the iPod — before it existed, there wasn’t such a thing as taking your entire music (and eventually, video) library with you wherever you went. But the concept proved to be so elemental that it transcended the iPod as a device, and became a staple in nearly every product Apple makes, from iTunes on the Mac to the iPhone. In his iPad launch presentation, Jobs seemed pretty clear about the fact that the iPad won’t replace your phone or laptop (at least not any time soon), and yet Apple has still been deficient in demonstrating more than scaled-up iPhone experiences (like browsing, light email, and gaming) or scaled-down desktop experiences (like iWork).

Of course, it would be a failure of imagination to assume there won’t eventually be something built on the iPad platform that simply couldn’t be hosted on a phone or laptop. But so far Apple hasn’t shown it to us, which may be why so many are still lukewarm on the device’s prospects. This also might be why iBooks was January’s dark horse announcement — it was the only app Apple showed off that seems to call out for the iPad by name. But long-form reading is still arguably better suited to devices like the Kindle and Nook, which benefit from E Ink displays, while shorter-form media (namely periodicals) went all but ignored by Apple, which punted to publication-specific apps like the New York Times reader. Had Apple attempted to create a new, ubiquitous, standard format for magazines and newspapers, and leveraged its sales infrastructure for subscription content, the iPad might have been hailed as the iPod of publishing.

There’s no question Apple has (re)defined the tablet dialog and raised the bar for the space moving forward. For browsing the web, the iPad experience is second to none; the product itself almost seems to melt away, leaving the user to feel as though they’re literally reaching in and touching the content. And by the time the iPad’s price drops in a year or two, Apple may be able to parlay a groundbreaking product into a market leadership position. But in the mean time, the countdown to launch has begun and Cupertino’s set its sights on building yet another market, we’ll have to see just how many people are ready to put their money where Apple’s tablet is.

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Ryan Block is the co-founder of gdgt and the former editor in chief of Engadget. Disclosure: gdgt is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

144 Responses to “The iPad May Change Computing, Just Not Your Life”

  1. I think it’s an consumption device instead of an creation device, unlike a desktop or notebook.

    As for productivity. If we look at the numbers when productivity was rising(last 10 years), at the same time the financial industry became a bigger part of GDP. Now what “Products” does the financial industry produce? Computer structures.
    In other words productivity might have been rising because Computers became faster, we actually didn’t work smarter.

    So maybe we should stop just kidding our self’s that computers make us more productive and just take them as entertaining devices.

    I think we are at the end of the S curve in PC productivity gains, so either we accept the status quo. Or increase productivity through the use of smarter programs. Or use them as entertainment devices.

  2. To those who say that there were MP3 players before the iPod – Yes, you are correct, but their acceptance was limited mainly to techno-geek enthusiasts for a variety of reasons.

    The iPod was revolutionary because it addressed many of the problems of MP3 players of the day. As the first to employ a 2″ disc drive, it provided unprecedented storage capacity in a small form factor. It used high-speed Firewire (rather than slow USB) to allow fast loading of songs. The revolutionary scroll wheel provided easy operation, and the companion iTunes software made management of one’s music library simple and fun.

    Just as Apple has always done and continues to do, they design for the larger audience of users who would rather use technology than fiddle with it.

    Other companies seem doomed to let engineers design products for other engineers.

    My personal feeling is that the iPad has potential to really take off as a stand-alone device (not requiring a hub computer running iTunes). Apple should sell a “home base” companion box that provides a Wi-fi router with archival storage that can be administered from a simple app on the iPad. There are many people who could ditch their virus-ridden PCs for a system like this. If Apple is not working on this, they should.

    • Excellent idea Brett. It would be great to be able to “sync” (backup) to some kind of external storage device rather than through a computer, and maybe as a bonus to be able to access content stored on that device via wifi or bluetooth when you happen to be in its proximity (that is, when you’re at home lounging on the sofa or bed)

  3. There zillions of people who will buy this out of the gate and mostly because it is an Apple product. Sadly most of those people are buying a solution in search of a problem. That said I also can’t find where I put the iPod Touch when I got bored with it. My kids are in search of it but I have no motivation to look for it.

    My bias shows when I have 3 UMPCs and a Tablet so for me it is about ink.

    So I think the iPad will change the lives of those looking for a browser / more readable iPod but for me I want a real computer that I can use for real work.
    Although just like a “Mullet” hair style the Lenovo U1 may well be Business up the front and Party round the back. So the Snap off slate will be a far more attractive option at least for me.

    Still liked the article and yes a very fair assessment of the device. Just an under estimation of the power of Cult of Apple me thinks.

  4. The author is an idiot. Just trying to attract attention to himself through anti-Apple stand. I’m getting tired of reading this crap. IPad will change the world and the lives of all people in the world.

  5. What is this “won’t replace a laptop” hype??? It will too! It’s going to replace my laptop, because I only use it for is writing, web and mail. Pages and Safari are all I need, and the iPad has them. So instead of a new $999 laptop I’m getting a $699 iPad.

    • Ken Jackson

      Most people were equally unexcited about AppleTV.

      By this argument Apple could literally release dog poop and your response would be, “Yeah people may not be excited by dog poop, but they felt the same way about the iPod”. What could Apple release that you might speculate may not be the biggest consumer gadget in the world?

      • mgriscom


        I like your posts, and I agree. But, dude, you’re pissing into the wind. It’s true: Steve Jobs could market dog poop and sell a million units. He’s that good at marketing… but he’s also got a willing audience who are so smitten by the words “revolutionary” coming from Jobs’ mouth, they will buy it, at a premium. The Apple fans need this stuff to feel good about themselves, I think, because I can’t figure out why else. It’s not the functionality; you could pen less money on a netbook with a 4G wireless USB plugin, and it wouldn’t be as pretty, but it would be much more capable (e.g. it would have a keyboard, it would handle all sorts of software and hardware devices than an Apple Sanitary Napkin can’t, the OS is much more sophisticated and not single-tasking, etc).

        Try to put yourself in these guys’ shoes. Thanks for having the courage to put up with the reflexive hatred and the fact-free arguments.

  6. I found some of the comments much better than the article itself. I totally agree with “The Mann” and “Jeffc”.

    Forget about any “tablet” based on Windows. They have failed in the past (I still have a Samsung Q1 UMPC), they will fail in the future. Windows 7 is a very good computer OS, but if you need/want a computer, get a netbook/laptop/desktop.

    Why would anybody want a tablet that need to boot, enter login/password, update windows, update antivirus, go to control panel to uninstall software, use applications not designed to be used with fingers ? All the burden of a computer without the benefits (keyboard etc…)

    The iPhone succeeded because of its design, touch oriented from the start, instant On, always ready, tons of clever apps to help you throughout the day.

    The only drawback is, sometimes you would like a bigger screen : to read books, to play some games, to better surf the web, to get multi columns in your twitter client, to get a better view when you pass it around to show pictures or movies etc…

    I will get this bigger screen on my iPad, I will get media I don’t have yet (books, magazine, “videozine” or whatever they will call the new type of magazines the iPad will allow creative developpers to build) and, like the iPhone did, I’m sure we will see plenty new apps and usage we can’t even think of yet.

  7. Ken Jackson

    Actually I think Apple has made a fundamental mistake with the iPhone and now the iPad. They switched the emphasis from how the device looks and feels to the apps. The iPad in particular is an unattractive device, but Apple is selling it on the apps.

    Why is this a problem? I think it actually plays to a long-term weakness with Apple, and the long-term strength of Microsoft. One of the amazing things I’ve seen since MS announced their new phone series is the sheer number of developers and shops that are going to build apps with it. And then I saw an app a coworker of mine built — in three days. This is the first three days the SDK came out.

    If its about the apps I think Apple loses. If its about authenticity and the coolness factor then they win. I think iPad is the wrong device. It’s simply not very cool. With that said, it should do much better than the JooJoo.

    • There are over 150,000 apps in the App Store with billions of downloads.

      How many does Windows Mobile Phone 7 Series have? Zero. And how many downloads? Zero. The first phone with WM7 is over 6 months from launch, Microsoft said it themselves that it’s not launching till Fall.

      By the time the first WM7 phone has been sold, iPhone OS 4.0 will be out (June), a new iPhone will be out (June), and the iPad will be in a million people’s hands with thousands of brand-new apps custom made just for the iPad. The App Store’s size will be over 200,000 apps, and this is all before the very FIRST WM7S app is out.

      Do you buy a computer for how it looks, or what it can do? Do you stare at the beautiful industrial design or do you turn it on and use applications? Hardware only matters if it’s shit and is detrimental to its usage. If it looks decent and has decent specs then it becomes transparent and the software is what makes or breaks the platform. I honestly couldn’t think of a more backwards position than the one you have.

      • Ken Jackson

        Clearly you missed my point, and I think probably need a lesson in history. Apple has historically won due to their industrial design, not their software. The iMac was a success because of the design of the box, not the OS. The iPod was the same. There were better mp3 players than the iPod, but the iPod looked the best. And the white earbuds created a subtle fashion sensation.

        As you point out, the iPhone has a large app store. And so Apple turned their typical position of style over substance into one about the app ecosystem. Unfortunately, and this is the premise of my post, this is ill-fated. It has taken Apple 3 years to hit 200K apps. It will take WM7S ~3 months to hit half that number. So at the start of 2011 you’ll have iPhone at ~220K apps and WM7S at ~120K apps. But the big difference will be the speed and quality of apps that come out. This is where MS’s chops in developer tools will pay off, and it will be apparent that Apple made the wrong bet.

        It’s like playing basketball against the Lakers of the 80s. No matter how badly you want to run, don’t. Sure you may get an easy layup here or there, but in the long run the fast tempo favors the Lakers. You never want the “app ecosystem” to be what you’re going up against Microsoft with. Even if it looks like you have a nice lead… it won’t last.

        Furthermore, iPad may get to one million units sold. But not millionS. Compared to the iPhone its simply not as interesting of a device. It’s a niche device. A nice to have niche device, but it doesn’t tip the boat in any way. This is iPhone vs WP7S vs Android. Tablets are just along for the ride.

      • Ken Jackson

        One thing I would also add is that HW ecosystem is something that Apple is much better than MS at. The iPhone/iPod HW ecosystem, IMO, could be their real ace. The fact that they don’t draw that front and center is a mistake.

        Again, in the span of just a few days I’ve already seen a couple of high quality WP7S apps written by people that live within a mile radius of me. I think you’re seriously understimating how badly the Windows sw ecosystem has been waiting for something like this.

      • Michael Bazeley

        Sorry, Ken. But you’re digging yourself an even bigger hole. The OS/user interface is THE reason Macs and Apple products have been so successful, not their pretty cases. Talk to anybody about why they prefer Macs, or why they switched from Windows, and they’ll tell you it’s because they are easier to use and more intuitive. You don’t need to wrestle with the OS. That’s always been the case. Why do you think modern-day Windows emulates so much of OSX? Because it works and it’s what consumers want. Now we are seeing the same thing with touch technology on mobile phones. It’s always been the OS.

      • Ken Jackson


        “The OS/user interface is THE reason Macs and Apple products have been so successful, not their pretty cases”

        First, lets be clear. The iPhone and iPod have been huge successes. The Mac — not so much. And I’ll give you the iPhone… slam dunk across the board. Good design, good OS, good product. The iPod was a fasion accessory — there almost always existed a better product, fashion aside, on the market. The Mac has never sold especially well. Maybe you should say the lack of ability for the Mac to sell speaks to the poor quality of its OS? Well of course you’d never say that. That doesn’t fit into your narrative.

        “Talk to anybody about why they prefer Macs, or why they switched from Windows, and they’ll tell you it’s because they are easier to use and more intuitive.”

        Relatively few people have made this change. But even if you talk to people who have, you’ll quickly discover that they really weren’t Windows users. They used a computer which happened to run Windows. The latest Mac laptop just looked a lot cooler. You’ll also know this because if you ask them what about the OS is better they have no response, except it looks nicer. And for those few who try to show something that “Windows can’t do or the Mac does better” — it takes me about 5 seconds in almost every case to show them how to do it with Windows. And then I ask, “Is that less intuitive?”. They can rarely say yes with a straight face.

        With that said, I don’t think OSX is a bad OS. But this mythology that Mac users have that OSX is ridiculously more intuitive is just a fantasy.

        “Why do you think modern-day Windows emulates so much of OSX?”

        You do realize that much of what’s in Win7 was inspired by Longhorn which began development shortly before XP shipped.

    • Michael Bazeley

      Much better than the JooJoo? I should say so. The JooJoo has no real sales channel; Apple has Apple stores where people wander in off the street, ogle the cool devices and walk out with things they never intended to buy. JooJoo has no national ad budget; Apple has billions in the bank. The company behind JooJoo has no reputation or authority with consumers. Apple is one of the top consumer brands in the world. Why the JooJoo is ever mentioned in the same breath as Apple, HP, Google and others baffles me.

  8. Just curious I just read now two very biased posts hyping products and social media. Are you guys paid to write these articles by the subjects of the articles? Just curious.

  9. I just wish you actually could run programs on it that isn’t just bullshit fart-noise apps and stupid games. Would be great if you could actually use it for work, especially considering the price-tag on the 3G capable units.

    Instead of scaling up iPhoneOS they should have scaled down MacOS.

    • Anthony Hocken

      “I just wish you actually could run programs on it that isn’t just bullshit fart-noise apps and stupid games. “

      Poor attempt at discrediting Apple’s App Store. With 100k apps you’re going to have plenty novelty apps and games but you’ll also have plenty in every other category too. They’re generally very good quality apps too. There’s at least 10 great astronomy apps, at least 10 great IM clients, at least 10 feature rich Twitter clients, 10 good quality music streaming apps, several MS Office compatible editor/spreadsheet, and so on. No matter which category you look at it’s not only flooded with options, but many top notch options. This “fart-noise app” bullshit is old and nothing but half hearted attempt to discredit the decent apps.

      “Instead of scaling up iPhoneOS they should have scaled down MacOS.”

      Which would make no sense at all. That would but it in the same class as all the large expensive tablet computers and we know how those worked out.

      The iPad is just another device like the iPhone/iPod. The fact it syncs with a computer, has low power hardware, cheap components and price point reflects that. If Apple already have a touch-based OS why would they switch to using their mouse-driven UI. That’s just nuts. Makes way more sense to beef up their touch OS – look at the keynote or Youtube overviews and you’ll see new UI components tailored for the bigger form factor.

  10. For the most part, I agree with The Mann.

    It seems that everyone is reacting to this thing based on what they thought or hoped it would be.

    This is not a mobile computing device, it’s a portable media consumption device. It will find it’s rightful place on the coffee table in my family room and will join us on vacation. There are a lot of people that use laptops for two things, browsing the web and checking email, This is perfect for both plus I hear it does a few other things.

  11. monsterofNone

    the iPad is a promise to developers more than it is to users. if you develop for the iPad Apple will provide you with easy access to it’s millions of customers with credit cards on file. it was true with the iPhone, the iPad just delivers more screen real estate.

    the developers will be jumping over each other to find the killer app for the form factor.

    and that ends up being the promise to the users.

  12. The fact is that most hardware manufacturers suck at making software, almost everyone except Apple. This is the main reason why all other tablets have failed and it’s not due to the form factor being obtuse.

    It was a revolution in software and user experience design that led to the iPod and iTunes taking over the personal music consumption space, not the hardware. The ease-of-use of the iPod combined with the software connection to a well-designed music management application was what won consumers over. There were MP3 players before the iPod but none offered the total user experience that Apple does, and this is even before the iTunes Store debuted.

    The main reason that almost all tablets have failed is because the manufacturers slap a desktop-class operating system on it and call it a day; they don’t pay attention to any of the unique user experience dilemmas that come from a tablet-sized computer with a touchscreen in lieu of a mouse. These tablets inevitably have a smaller screen than most LCDs people have on their desks so the DPI goes way up and all the user interface element sizes go way, way down, making things nearly impossible to tap on. Did any of you see Steve Ballmer demoing the “slate” device a few months ago? He missed his intended tap targets repeatedly the made a joke to the audience about his fingers being too big. Sorry Steve, it’s not your fingers, it’s the software not accounting for the main use case.

    The iPad will be a hit. It’ll be big in the markets that people are assuming it’ll be big in, and it’ll also be a hit in markets no one has thought of yet because no one has seen what brilliant 3rd-party developers are cooking up. The iPhone is extremely popular because of the over 150,000 applications for it, most available for under a few bucks. The iPhone is popular because of the SOFTWARE. Smartphones existed before the iPhone debuted but it was the high-quality user experience that won consumers over. The same will be true of the iPad.

    If you’re still wondering who the iPad was built for, I still believe that it was built for everyone but us:

    • Holistic design is the key, and Apple is good at it. “Good” doesn’t sound like such high praise, but most companies would not even rate a “Fair”, because they really don’t try. Apple designs whole products, not software, not hardware, not features, not capabilities. Complete products, aimed at a crystal-clear model of their intended users’ desires and behaviors. That’s simple, conceptually, but apparently very hard to achieve in practice.

    • Chris K

      Apple is the only world class hardware and software company. It’s no wonder they have been quite successful during the consumer electronics age of computing.

  13. stlreader

    Whenever I read an article like this, I realize that the writer is either a) a non-user of iPhone or b) a non-user of apps on iPhone.

    Because this writer is clueless.

    With all those thousands and thousands of apps, there is a new category of user: the iPhone app fanboy or fangirl!!

    It’s all about the apps!!!!

    • Anthony Hocken

      The entirety of your post revolves around trying to discredit those who don’t share your POV rather than countering their points. The author “was clueless” why exactly? You conveniently miss out that part. Just a worthless attempt to discredit someone who doesnt share your views. The internet is full of trolls like you.

  14. Constable Odo

    The geeks want more ports, more features, more power, more OS. They’re looking for a quad-core desktop compressed into a half-inch tablet. They’re lunatics. Thank goodness Apple doesn’t listen to geeks and their outrageous demands. Hardly anyone has touched an iPad and yet they know for certain that the iPad will be a failure based on hardware shortcomings alone.

    The geeks are putting their money on the Notion Ink Adam, the Fusion Garage JooJoo and the HP Slate to just take Apple’s iPad market away because they have more hardware. It’s already been proven that the tablet market is not hardware driven. Every Windows tablet had more hardware (and a couple of pounds more weight) than the iPad and within six months the iPad will most likely outsell all of them.

    It’s strange that no matter how smart the geeks are they never consider the majority of the population that are suffering from feature overload. It’s like they don’t have family members or friends that are already struggling with the devices they already have. Apple is trying its best to deliver a simplified platform to consumers and the geeks hate it. It’s too “dumbed down” for power users. Too closed. Too restricted. No decent platform should have a gatekeeper to protect users, the geeks say. Most of the low-tech iPhone users I know are definitely happy to have protection.

    I’m going to sit back and watch which tablet platform and device prospers this year and my money is going on Apple and the iPad. The geeks cries and demands are not going to change a thing. Steve is going to be laughing all the way to the bank to add to Apple’s cash reserve.

    • Anthony Hocken

      Couldn’t agree more.

      Apple are not the number one brand because of a feature list they tick off just for the sake of it. They’re number one because of the subset of features they concentrate on and do very well.

      No matter how knowledgeable a geek is in terms of the technical facts they accumulate it always amazes me they continue to not see the forest for all the trees.

      It’s interest too that someone at Microsoft is adopting the Apple approach with Windows Phone 7. It’s missing features like copy/paste and will have a closed App Store. If they finally realized it’s the user experience which counts above all else I can see Windows Phone 7 doing very well.

      Compare this to the Android platform. It’s a geeks wet dream. But look what happens when you give geeks unfettered use. You end up with a marketplace littered with alpha quality junk filled technical jargon and requirements, root access, device compatibility. It’s a horrible experience compared with Apple’s App Store. People say Apple are power hungry but ultimately they just have a vision of user experience and do their best to make sure a minority don’t screw it up for the rest.

    • “Apple is trying its best to deliver a simplified platform to consumers…”

      IMHO ‘fitting’ would be more precise than ‘simplified’; otherwise: ACK.

    • Believe it or not, it does not require being a “geek” to appreciate that the Adam device (for example) will have a Pixel Qi display, permitting much better battery life as well as less eye strain, or that it will have true 180p output capabilities via an HDMI port, or that it will cost half the price of the iPad, and will allow you to load productivity apps like for free (?)

      Seriously, this “the brand is more important than the features!” … is kinda … sheep-like, don’t you think?

  15. I believe that the need is there for a device in this form factor. Tablets were introduced in 2001 with Windows XP Tablet PC edition. At the time, I remember several management friends wanting one as it did fill a void for traveling and meetings, in not having to have a full laptop computer. Of course, this was before smart phones really had enough processing power to supplant laptops altogether in certain usage scenarios.

    Tablets were underpowered making them very slow in the beginning. What we would consider good usability today for touch screens simply had not evolved yet. Windows XP was adapted to run on the tablet with handwriting recognition rather than the concept of gesture input interfaces. In my view, the technology was simply “not ready for prime time”.

    The iPad has two big advantages… it’s running on technology nearly a decade more advanced, and touch screen usability is a much more mature concept now.

    As far as whether there is a market for these devices, I think there always was. It’s just untapped. Just watch how awkward it is for a doctor to carry a laptop in a hallway full of patients for example. They need more than a smartphone but less than a laptop. With eReaders taking off, there is enough to grow the market for tablets into a fully mature market. It just needs time.

  16. Michael Bazeley

    I think tech writers aren’t really thinking through the daily use cases very well. I can think of many times when I want instant, portable access to the web in my home, whether it’s reading a recipe in the kitchen, looking up something on the web when my laptop is shut or packed away, passing a funny video or web site around the room among friends or family. I share my iPhone with people all the time, but the screen is painfully small for in-home use. When I was working on my old BMW last year, I had my iPhone propped next to me in the garage so I could reference pictures and forum posts. A tablet would have been far more useful. I would use that thing to death for couch-surfing. The convenience of the tablet form factor is real. It may ultimately not be the iPad that sells. But I think “real people” will embrace the coming crop of tablets.

    • I think your spot on. It is funny how techs get caught up in specs and comparisons of what they know (so many site processor power, not what the device will accomplish) and fail to see how the populous will use a device. Stranger still is that most of them watch Star Trek. What do they cary around constantly?

  17. Simply put: it is not what a machine can do, it is what you can do with the machine.
    Phones and computers are perfect examples: most can do much more than users actually use them for. Worse, because they càn do so much more, every single task becomes difficult, needs several steps, etc…
    The succes of the iPhone? I can use every feature of it within 5 minutes, and I don’t need a manual – nor does my 6 year old son.
    The coming succes of the iPad? …..
    I’m getting one asap.

  18. Anthony Hocken

    Nice article Ryan.

    I think the weekly/monthly magazines are the prime function of this type of device. We’ll soon see how well Apple grasp this by how aggressively they pursue this rather than settling for a basic book store. The iPad could well be a game changer. This is the killer app. It’s not music, photos, videos or half the stuff Jobs listed in his keynote. It’s all about books and magazines, with emphasis on the latter (because e-ink is likely still better for regular books). A touch version of Zinio’s reader and marketplace would be amazing. At the very least I want great PDF support for the PDF-based magazines I subscribe to.

    Having said that, I think most people will spend more time using it to browse the web. But I don’t think this will drive sales and isn’t really a clear reason to buy it over a small laptop/netbook until people actually get their hands on one. I’d spend much more time browsing the web on an iPad than on my laptop because it’s lighter, smaller, easier to hold, silent, simple, instant on and you’re not lugging around a plastic keyboard which gets in the way even though you’re only using it a tiny fraction of the time. But try giving “it’s nicer” as an incentive to buy one. Something like “instant access to all the magazines/books” is easier to grasp.

    I think Mozilla’s position on h.264 is important for the iPad too. If Mozilla adopt it then we effectively have a web standard for video. Flash would fade much more quickly. Although Mozilla makes millions from the search bar in Firefox it would be nice to see the MPEG group reduce royalties/terms to encourage this.

    • It’s unlikely Mozilla will adopt h.264 it though due to the financial costs associated with doing so and the impact this will have on Mozilla as an open source product. Yes, the MPEG group need to reduce royalties but they also need to do something more fundamental to create a standard that’s open for all to use without cost.

  19. No Flash means it is a second rate browsing experience.. I’m not a fan of flash by any means but too many sites use it. IMHO, the failure of this device is that for it to be truely worth it, you need another 3G contract. Maybe people have more money than me, but i’m not going to buy another contract when I already have an iPhone. If they allowed bluetooth tethering to your iphone or some such that would have been perfect.

    I do see that devices like this will be in our future, i’m just not sure the V1 iPad will be it.

    • Steve802

      I have trouble buying “flash” as an essential internet experience. I’ve been keeping a list of flash applications I would miss … and so far the list is up to 3 … all fairly intense artistic expressions. For the most part Flash is a part of the interactive experience … bad advertisements for products I’ll never buy (HP servers, for X sake !)

    • Fortunately, with this device you don’t need another 3G contract, such as one for the iPhone.

      Apple was really wise and pulled a lot of strings to make the device work with AT&T’s network, not tied to any bind whatsoever.
      If you choose, you can attach it to their network, change your data plans based on need, and if there is a time you don’t need it, you can simply cancel it without backlash.

      Overall I think this will be the biggest benefit. The 3G plans are cheap and you aren’t stuck, so those who fear commitment won’t have to worry.

    • To whom care

      I do not pretend the ipad be like laptop or desktop PC,
      but i do care about communication among computers os, it does not matter if is pc, mac or linux, cuold be very convinient for the ipad, i mean like usb port, stick memory reader, camera integration for using skype or whatever. the ipad has huge capacity and sometime your are out of home and have some file from a friend to take away with you, and you have to depend on a stick memory, i know there is some app, but all work using wifi connectivity, but what happen if that friend`s PC do not have a wifi adapter nither internet acces. I have an Iphone 3g, iphone is very cool, email, web, music, you can use the phone very friendly, but for thing that matter like: store on the memory with out the need of specific aplicion like itune, work as and stick memory where i can save document and later send by email when i need to do it, multitasking, come on man, you have the breack now to do something well done, Steve Jobs please be on my shoes and ask you why all my coworker are not using iphone for work.

  20. Based on the start of the 2nd paragraph – “To date, no one’s been able to scale tablets as a core personal computing product”, this author and so many others miss what I believe (I could be wrong) to be Apple’s goal, which is to deliver a new personal electronics device, not a new computing device. Think of it a 2010 version of a walkman, but rather than being limited to playing cassette tapes and FM radio, the iPad “plays” a wide range of “media” (music, video, games, personal communications, books, newspapers, visual arts, etc.) that are available today in digital format – both stored on the device, in the cloud and available on demand on the internet. The many computing applications that will be made to run on the iPad will just be gravy.

    • Pair an iPad with a Slingbox and WOW. Slingbox already has an app for iPhone/iPod Touch, so it seems likely there will be an update to take advantage of the larger iPad screen. I’ve never given Slingbox any serious consideration, but if I can pair it with an iPad it’s much more appealing.

      Maybe we’ll see Apple take the Slingbox concept to reinvent its Apple TV as a media hub for the iPad.

  21. On the iPod / library stuff, I’m generalizing to make a point. I’m well aware of early models that used massive 2.5-inch laptop drives (like the early brick-sized Archos devices, or the Creative NOMADs, etc.), but I was speaking more to the concept that you — yes, you, the average consumer with a digital music library — can take that with you wherever you go. That was not a concept people understood before the iPod. And for whatever it’s worth, the iPod was the first device to use the Toshiba 1.8-inch drive that afforded similar storage capacities in significantly smaller devices.

    • Anthony Hocken

      “As much as people hate to admit it, there were MP3 players out with more functionality than the 1st iPod before that device hit.”

      Same argument holds for the iPad. There are tablet computers out there now with more functionality than the iPad.

      But like with the iPod, Apple has made a device which is more straightforward to use in a smaller form factor. And at a much better price point.

  22. For me the question remains – what “must have” problem does the tablet solve & for whom?

    The laptop does it all, the smartphone merges content and contact. What does the tablet do that the other two don’t. If anything it actually removes features – and that just may be where the must have lies. Too far out for us to see at the moment. We’ll just have to wait.

      • Exactly. I can’t use a laptop in a hallway conference, or an impromptu meeting over coffee. That’s why I kept boxes of steno pads from 1986 on that I’ve schlepped around the planet. The iPad is, first and foremost, a declaration of independence from haphazardly scrawled, non-indexed, unsearchable notes. As a bonus, it can run almost any iPhone app out there. But the two I really, REALLY care about are a good note-taking app and Safari.

    • I do not think the tablet has to do anything other devices do not. I think it is more about how tablets resolve certain issues. The ipad will definitely be able to create another user experience than laptops or smart phones. This will be enough for the success to come.

  23. “Think back to the iPod — before it existed, there wasn’t such a thing as taking your entire music (and eventually, video) library with you wherever you went.”

    I disagree – the 6GB Creative DAP Jukebox was available in 2000. I think the first iPod was released Mid 2001?


    • True. But the iPod was the one that swept the opponents. This was due to the hardware and software integration (iTunes). The product worked. Prior to that it was a pain to get playlists and music syncing to work right. Sounds simple but Apple made it work without trouble. I painfully remember…

  24. The Mann

    i cant understand how experienced tech writers are so unwilling to “get it”. The fact it may be an ipod touch just bigger is exactly what is getting 250 million ipod users excited. If there is no room for this because of the ipod touch than why is there room for a 27″ imac when you can get a 21.5″ and do the same thing? This is gonna be revolutionary and when EVERYONE has one and all the bloggers who wrote posts like this use one everyday, i will be the first to say “i told you that you just didnt get it”. To compare this to any netbook running as desktop OS really shows inexperience. A desktop OS on a mobile platform? the ipad is NTO a desktop os built for use with an input device like mice. The ipad os was built from the ground up to use touch. This will not be anything like your typical netbook you want to compare it to and say have all failed. Still, great writing and good article. I just disagree.

    • Nikolai

      I’m with you Mann! The author has little imagination and will just be one of those people who didn’t get it.

      The iPad makes computing available to the masses, the people that are technically not savvy and don’t want to surf the internet on their iPod touches or iPhones. It’s going to be huge because it will simplify everything (with a lot of help from apps). It’s a disruptive technology because everyone that didn’t have a computer but wants one will instantly get it and feel like they “can handle this thing” once they hold it in their hands.

  25. Bruce A. Head

    “Think back to the iPod — before it existed, there wasn’t such a thing as taking your entire music (and eventually, video) library with you wherever you went.”

    Huh? There were lots of MP3 players before Apple entered the market with the iPod. It wasn’t the iPod that changed the face of digital music, it was Apple’s ability to legitimize digital music downloads with iTunes. Same with the iPhone. The device was cool enough, but the App Store is what made it break out. Content will ultimately drive the success of the iPad as well. The more the iPad can do, the more it will succeed.

    • I totally agree with you. It’s not the camera, or the usb port or any hardware piece that will make the iPad a success. It is the apps that will eventually boost its sales and turn it into the must-have portable device. I see the iPad like a blank sheet that software developers can turn into whatever their imagination is capable of.
      Another important point, in my opinion, is that many markets with big problems, like the printed press, the movie industry etc, look at the iPad as a possible solution to their profits decline. They will strongly support it with apps and lower product prices, less expensive movies tv shows, books and magazines etc. fact that adds some points to the probability of its success.
      I have faith in that thoughts and I will not expect for the next generation of iPads, that’s for sure. Although I can understand that many people prefer to wait, I am not going to be one of them.

    • @ Bruce, While I don’t disagree that content is extremely important and has helped the success of both the ipod and iphone you completely undervalue the part hardware plays in a products success.

      Yes there was lots of MP3 players on the market before the ipod but none that where as easy to use, could store as much content in such a small stylish form factor along with the click wheel which bought in a new navigation paradigm.

      The iphone which actually had less features then competing smart phones at the time became a success because it made its features easy to use for the average joe.

      Has content been important for both these devices… of course but if the devices themselves are too hard to use, poorly designed or a host of other design sins neither would have sold well and the content you speak of what not have come into existence on these devices.

      • Well Stated.

        The device that comes to mind after reading this is the Nokia N770/N800/N810. Great concept but poor execution. I owned both the 770 and the 800 versions. Both had so much potential. Both were to hard to use and were not reliable When the iPod Touch came on the market, problems solved.

    • I completely agree with Bruce. Most people use hardly any functions on a PC/Netbook. Most computer use (apart from work environments) is used for browsing the web/watching content/writing emails (not essays/docs).
      The iPad is so accessible for the millions of people who get lost when trying to use a computer.
      I remember seeing a 3 year old child and 70 year old mane easily using the iPhone. They both got it and enjoyed it. The iPhone’s UI removed the concept of folders/sub directors/programs etc. This is what made is so accessible to millions of mobile users. The ipad would offer the same experience and so I believe is a serious netbook killer.