Apple iPad

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Most talked about this week? Not by me, but by the world at large, or the part of it that do their talking on the Net anyway. Lots of excited responses, but also lots of dissenters, and for now I’m in the latter camp. Again Apple have created a beautiful looking product, their masterclass in production design continuing. The question that still needs answering for me has to be “Why would I need one?”- it doesn’t do anything better than ¬†devices already available and in common everyday use, and these devices also do other things.

It isn’t as useful as your laptop/netbook because you can’t, for example, connect it to a network and access networked hardware. The non-compatibility with Flash is an issue put forward by many as a disappointment- interfering as it does with the browsing experience. There’s also an interesting discussion of the multi-tasking problem on subdimension, so read it here. (Other examples can be found here)

It doesn’t seem to be as useful as an iPhone since it doesn’t fit in your pocket, doesn’t have a camera and can’t make phone calls, which, apparently, some people do still use as a means of communication. From the very cynical point of view it’s a giant iPhone that doesn’t call anyone or a giant iPod Touch that requires deep pockets, in both senses of the phrase.

Lastly, a pet hate of mine, the reading books/newspapers issue- what is wrong with reading an actual book or an actual newspaper? When designing devices like the iPad or Amazon’s Kindle, I think about the list of desirable features that customers want and the makers are aiming to provide them with- light, not too big, as cheap as possible, easily readable text, damage resistant etc. etc.- and I think “You’re describing a book. Just buy a book!” Perhaps there’s something I’ve missed, perhaps my love of books and pieces of paper (especially with actually hand written words on, now there’s a real treat) is anachronistic, or possibly I’m already an old curmudgeon.

And very lastly, you all know that in a year’s time, Apple will bring out a better, cheaper version that addresses a lot of the gripes people have been voicing. So if you must have a iPad either wait until then or, for those who simply can’t wait, don’t complain next year when it happens. You should know the drill in this sector of industry by now- companies get their products out on the market, wait to see what the customers like/dislike about them, improve them and release newer versions which cater to the demands expressed. Usually by this time, technological progress and simple economies of scale mean production costs are lower so the retail price is lower.

Maybe the more restrained commentators, saying that the iPad is the first, maybe imperfect, step in a totally new direction, will eventually prove to be the wisest judges.

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6 thoughts on “Apple iPad

  1. I’m quite excited about the iPad (as you can probably tell from my blog). I think the answer to your “Why do you need one when you have other stuff that does it” question is something along the lines of “You don’t”. It’s not necessarily aimed at you, more at your mum who wants to be able to show her friends pictures of her grandchildren (!) or look up the latest recipe for Polish Flapjacks or whatever.

    The next time you sit down to do some *proper* work on a laptop, take a moment to think about the process that you’ve been through in order to get that computer into the state it needs to be in to do whatever you’re doing with it. There’s a *lot* of work involved! I think *that’s* what the iPad is trying to address. It won’t go all the way, but then, the market isn’t quite ready for it yet either.

    • Maybe it’s just a case of waiting for people like me to catch on to whatever Steve Jobs has decided will be the trends/demands in a year or so, then looking back to now and realising he was right and I was wrong.

      The iPad, as I said, looks cool and is probably fun to have a play with. If someone gave me one, I wouldn’t say no. My mum probably wouldn’t either, despite my poor show on the grandchildren front, but I don’t think she would pay 500 quid for one

      • Price is always a contentious issue, most of the commentaries were surprised it was announced so cheap, the expected price was somewhere in the $1000 ball park, indeed, Dell announced a 6″ tablet device at CES priced at just under a grand, which I suspect will cause them some trouble.

        It’ll be an interesting device I think, definitely impossible to say how useful it will be for sure until I have one in my hands. I do a lot of reading (both internet and book) sat on my sofa. Web reading I do with my iPhone, book reading I do with my Sony PRS-300 ebook reader. It’ll be nice to combine the 2 functions in 1 if nothing else. It will be a nice reference book to have sat beside my main development machine so I don’t have to keep switching back and forth between web and editor (of course, a similar effect could be achieved by buying a second monitor, but then I’m forced to sit at a desk, with power etc etc.)

      • It’s certainly not a useless waste of space as some people are portraying it and definitely less expensive than I expected. This will likely turn out to be a case of misguided expectations- everybody was hoping for something totally new, offering unprecedented functionality etc. and now these same people are whinging that they didn’t get it.

        What they need to consider is this: when something new with unprecedented functionality is released it takes a while to figure out what you can do with it as, by definition, it’s not something you’ve been able to do yet.

      • I think you would have had a whole bunch of people complaining regardless of what they released, the level of hype Apple generates about its products is entirely intentional and the detractors only serve to generate discussion. If absolutely everyone loved it, you’d have a few stories about how much they like it, everyone would agree and it wouldn’t really be news any more.

        Don’t forget that the iPhone had a lot of critics when it was released, it’s still arguably the best device in its class and it’s the argument that drive the sales for the most part!

        We’re all just sheep following the directions laid out by the megacorps :)

  2. Sad but true with that last comment- the big businesses are the bosses now. In answer to those of us wondering what the point of the iPad is, the answer will be given by Apple once we’ve all bought one.

    In 2011, purchasing an iPad will be made compulsory. In a new package deal, a passport and iPad combined will cost you from 650 quid. Renewing your passport without an iPad will no longer be possible

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