Apple iPad – because the sane names were taken

Warning: video may not be safe for all work environments. but I think this is more a warning about the work environment than the video…

UPDATE: Read below for my initial thoughts.  After reading some more posts/thoughts, including this one by Joe Hewitt, who developed the Facebook App for the iPhone,  I have some other thoughts.  I also had an interesting chat with Nate White and had a back and forth in comments on my last post with Kenny. So my additional conclusions are as follows:

  • The iPhone has been unquestionably a revolution in computing, interface, platform, etc. and has changed the way that consume and create information.  Certainly, extending that platform to a bigger screen has tons of potential to both succeed commercially and further revolutionize computing, if done correctly and accounting for physical interaction (i.e. comfortable to hold for long periods of time).
  • A group that I didn’t initially think about who might find this first generation device especially useful is Baby Boomers who haven’t yet started using laptops on the couch, etc.  This behavior seems restricted to younger generations.  I can definitely see boomers who only have desktops using this as their first couch/kitchen/porch internet/media device.
  • However, I still am unconvinced that the tablet/slate form factor has been nailed in terms of comfort holding, using, browsing without crossing ones’ legs, sitting oddly or dropping it.  On the other hand, I could see a whole new branch of yoga in San Francisco to teach iPad sitting positions :).
  • I think that Apple’s app store approval process is still a terrible idea.  Let all apps through and have users flag malware for removal from the store upon investigation. And be impartial about competitive apps to native ones.
  • I still think the name sucks.
  • I still think that for me this device (not unlike the MacBook Air or the Kindle) is a nice to have and not a must have. So if someone were to buy it for me, I certainly wouldn’t protest, but it’s not at the top of my list of stuff to save up for either…  I will watch as it evolves though. As someone else pointed out, this is a launch and things will change a lot from here.

Original post:

Ok, so after wasting a good part of yesterday watching live blogs and poor streaming video of the launch of the iPad and a good part of today reading reviews from people who saw/tried it, here are my [hopefully] succinct thoughts:

Name: terrible. I think this is universal.  I wrote about Apple’s problem with naming and it just continues. The video above does a better job at explaining one reason why the name sucks, but how about the fact that Steve Jobs himself said iPod instead of iPad during his presentation? Way too confusing.  Someone joked that people in Boston won’t even be able to hear the difference when pronounced in a Boston accent. I really don’t get the naming decision.

Overall: So, Steve Jobs positioned the device as in between an iPhone and a laptop and said that to succeed it would have to do a much better job at a series of tasks than either of those devices. I’m not sure he convinced me of that, unfortunately.  Using touch on a big screen seems very cool and potentially one of the main modes we’ll use to interact with computers in the future (along with voice probably).  However, the specifics of the device make it seem hard to hold/awkward to position.  Notice Steve had to cross his leg in various positions in order to balance the device during the preso.  You might say it’s just like a magazine or book, but frankly dropping those isn’t such a big deal and you can toss one aside when you’re done.  I’m not sure that the limited functionality of the device relative to a laptop like the Macbook Air (probably comparable in weight with iPad carrying case and keyboard) and the limited portability relative to the iPhone leave it a huge role that I can see.  It seems like a nice to have, not a must have, as it doesn’t replace anything I currently use.  I’d put it on the list of stuff I’d buy if I had endless money.

Missing Features:

  • Camera – I’m not sure Apple realizes how much their built-in cameras make their laptops superior. However, the awkwardness of holding the iPad may have made that a tough use case anyway.
  • USB – seriously? Similarly to the Macbook Air – you’re going to make me buy dongles to connect anything?
  • Background Applications – like the iPhone, no ability to run IM at the same time as other apps? Or Pandora? or Skype?
  • Third Party Apps not approved through the App store – Defenders of this policy leave me puzzled. Apple has clearly demonstrated willingness to block apps, primarily from Google but also from other browser companies that compete with Apple’s own software or plans, e.g. Google Voice, Google Latitude, Firefox, etc.  This is a huge issue for me. Is this really the future of computing? At least Mac OSX is truly open to 3rd party apps….
  • No Flash – now don’t get me wrong, I hate Flash like the next guy, but the fact remains that it’s a huge part of the internet today.  It’s one thing to leave it off the iPhone, but if you’re going to expect the iPad to be a multimedia device and my primary device for casually browsing the web, that just doesn’t work.  Maybe if this boycott of Flash gets more momentum though, HTML 5 Video will become a reality.
  • GPS? – unclear if this is included or not at press time (just wrote press time to make myself laugh)

Cool features:

  • 10 hours of battery life! and 1 month of standby! If this is really true, this bodes well for future Apple products with their own chips and design, like future iPhones and Macbooks.
  • Speedy processor – bring this to the next gen iPhone also!
  • Cool new touch/gesture features for a wide variety of apps – I only wish that these multi-touch gestures weren’t patented, if this kind of interaction is going to become pervasive, it really shouldn’t be locked into only Apple devices.

Implications:

  • Kindle: I’ve read lots of predictions re: the impact of the iPad on the Kindle.  I would definitely be concerned if I was Bezos but I think it remains to be seen if Apple will allow the Kindle App/store on the iPad and how the higher prices in the iBook store will matter. Also I think that eInk’s advantage from being easy on the eyes for reading shouldn’t be discounted.
  • Success: I think that touch and eventually gestures will definitely be amongst the key future trends in computing, so I won’t eliminate the possibility of this device becoming successful across a broad range of people, however, I’m just not convinced.
  • Niche: For specific purposes, I can see this device being quite interesting. For example for businesses – Square (squareup.com) already announced that their system for accepting credit card payments will work on this device, seems like a more realistic point of sale tool than an iPhone perhaps? Maybe this will be the tablet that finally succeeds with doctors?
  • Focus: I hope that having a third platform to manage and yet another line of hardware doesn’t make Apple lose focus on innovating on Macs or iPhones, but I fear that it will.  What kind of iPhone would we have now if all the resources/thoughts/innovation that went into producing the iPad had gone into the iPhone instead? Where are the quad core Macbooks?
  • Carriers: – many have praised Apple for negotiating the deal with At&t to have a no-contract requirement and [supposedly] reasonable 3G data pricing.  Maybe a small step in the right direction, but it’s still At&t, who now even more transparently admits their network sucks. And at some point it would be nice if I didn’t have to pay the same company for using their network on different devices that I own. Let me pay one monthly fee to your company and use your network on all my devices, is that too much to ask for?

Anyway – just some thoughts without having seen it or tried it in person, still many unanswered questions. Some other good reviews to read (positive and negative):

http://www.techcrunch.com/2010/01/27/ipad/

http://mossblog.allthingsd.com/20100127/apple-ipad-impressions/

http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/the-apple-ipad-first-impressions/

http://i.gizmodo.com/5458382/8-things-that-suck-about-the-ipad

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7 responses to “Apple iPad – because the sane names were taken

  1. Agree with you 100% on the above… the idea of physicians using the iPad is brilliant. Can we just substitute that idea for the health care bill? From what I’ve seen so far, unlike the iPod, this device doesn’t seem to do anything significantly better than other devices already out there. Mostly it seems to do a lot of different things in a mediocre way, and I still haven’t figured out how in the hell you’re supposed to hold the thing. The fingerprints would also drive me up a wall.

  2. @Jesse – yes, I forgot to mention the fingerprints! I think the main thing like you said is the how to hold it. Someone mentioned watching a movie in bed or on a plane, but seems to me you’d have to hold it for a long time without a stand of some sort. I am definitely open to being proven wrong on this, but don’t see it just yet….

  3. I think the iPad is a personal TV for watching video clips your friends link you to on the social networks. In other words – it is in an existing category and it does something better – it’s a TV. In 5 years we won’t sit around the living room watching a 52inch screen, we’ll each sit watching our own iPads. Even if we’re all watching the same football game, we’ll each be tuned to a different camera angle, watching different chat feeds on the side, etc.

    • Realized I never replied to this Issac. I think it’s an interesting idea/concept. I still think there’s something cool about watching the same screen/show, but willing to believe I will become old-fashioned one day….

  4. Pingback: iPad Follow-up « Ron Feldman's Blog

  5. Pingback: Why I was Wrong (& a little bit Right) about the iPad | Ron Feldman's Blog

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