A few days have gone by since Steve Jobs introduced Apple’s new iPad at the special event of January 27th. Since then a lot has been written about the new device, and most of it has been a lukewarm reception. I admit, as I watched the live blogs on January 27th my spirits quickly went from exhilaration of the potential at the start of day, to a sense of emptiness by the time the session was over.
My intent with this blog has never been to write about technology directly, I’ll leave that up to the likes of David Pogue, Leo Laporte and the number of other great journalists who make it their livelihood to do so. I’m choosing to make an exception today, because I sense that the criticism of the iPad is a little over the top.
To summarize the chief complaints about the iPad are as follows:
– Lack of camera (still or video),
– Lack of e-ink screen,
– Lack of multi-tasking,
– Potentially awkward dimensions,
– Weak OS (iPhone OS vs. OS X)
– Lack of publishers
– Ongoing support of AT&T for 3G
In thinking of how a tablet device can augment the functionality that one already has available and, to paraphrase Steve Jobs, do something that neither the laptop nor the iPhone can do, it has to be able to do the three following things:
– Media consumption, and
The iPad, covers 2 of those 3 areas, and the strongest criticism that should leveled against it is its weakness in providing collaborative functionality by the simple fact that it doesn’t have a camera. All other complaints, in my opinion are either misguided or capricious.
– Lack of e-ink screen: This may be the most valid other complaint about the iPad, but in Apple’s defense, the screen on the iPhone is actually quite good, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the quality and readability of text on the iPad wouldn’t be excellent. I have read chapters out of O’Reilly books on my iPhone, and the biggest problem was not eye strain, but the small screen size (which the iPad solves).
– Lack of multi-tasking: This is one of the more capricious complaints against the iPad. Assuming that we all need multi-tasking (a bit of a hype there too), multi-tasking is something that can be enabled through the Operating System, and we should except the iPhone OS 3.2 later this quarter (by the time the iPad ships it looks like), and I would expect that while it won’t be there then, it should be part of iPhone OS 4, which I believe would come out during the summer of 2010.
– Potentially awkward dimensions: This is generally tied to the 4 by 3 proportion of the iPad screen. This may very well be a justified complaint, one that I don’t think we will realize whether it’s a real problem until start using it.
– Weak OS: I would categorize this in the
– Lack of Publishers: This too has some potential legs, but one has to remember that the iPhone can (and thus the iPad will) run various ebook applications including Kindle’s, Barnes and Noble’s, and even O’Reilly’s. This doesn’t account for the waterfall effect caused once other publishers come online. One silver lining that I think many have missed is the fact that it may also create a forum for authors who otherwise may not get published to be able to gain some exposure.
– Ongoing support of AT&T for 3G: This is one that people love to gripe about, and frankly is simply capricious at this point. Yes, AT&T doesn’t have as good coverage as Verizon and other companies, but Apple is clearly making the push to open up the platform beyond AT&T. It hasn’t happened yet, but may very well happen this year (some rumors are already spreading about that).
So what will make or break the iPad. Well I think it’s the Apps. There is a fantastic community of developers for the iPhone OS, and I expect that they will seize on this opportunity to develop new and innovative apps across the gaming, media consumption and collaboration spectrum.
So I’m eager to get my iPad and tinker with it.