This might be the most difficult post I have ever written. I am literally forcing myself to write these words. The reason I am finding it so difficult to write about the iPad is two fold. For starters, I do not know my own opinion yet. On the one hand, there is no denying it is a beautiful product like only Apple knows how to make. On the other hand, did they really reinvent the wheel here? Does it include anything particularly exciting on the technology side of things? I think not. I am sorry to be the millionth person to say this, but with the addition of a faster processor and some new software capabilities, the iPad is a giant iPod. But is that really so bad? You starting to get why this is a challenging topic for me?
The other reason I was hesitant to write this post is because the iPad had to have been the single most talked about product in history prior to its launch. There must have been close to 50 mock ups circulating the Web in the weeks leading up to yesterday’s announcement. The first hour of the event had over 170,000 tweets with the word iPad in them. Everyone was, and still is talking about this device. There were people who pretended they had one prior to the launch, there were people who were utterly disappointed with the product and did not bother hiding that, and there were those that were overly excited by the iPad. What they all share in common is that they were all talking about it.
So, I thought to myself , “Do I really have what to add?” The truth is before I sit down to write a blog post, I generally formulate my thoughts and opinions of the matter at hand. I did not do that in this case, since I do not yet know what I think. Before I talk about what excites me and what disappoints me about this device in terms of its specs, let me just tell those of you who are not in the loop what the iPad is.
I think it is safe to say anyone who has not been frozen for the last few years knows what an iPod is. It is the device that single handedly changed multiple billion dollar industries such as the music and gaming industries to name a few. The mobile world has never been the same since the iPod, which eventually turned into the iPhone accompanied by its own 140,000 apps and over 2 billion downloads.
Well, according to Apple, the iPad will revolutionize those industries and add a few more to the list. You can include internet, and I do not mean the mobile internet, I mean the full fledged internet, the iPad will most likely change that forever. Books, magazines, those are another two markets that will feel the effect. The iPad is essentially a large iPod in terms of its media capabilities, a stunning eBook reader with a significant market and a beautiful interface for storing and reading books, as well as a very impressive gaming device that will blow its competition out of the water.
However, in certain ways, the iPad really does disappoint. Should we start with the name? iPad? Really? Maybe I am missing some brilliant marketing strategy, but judging from the amount of jokes surrounding its name and the association with certain “girl” products, I would say I am not alone. Maybe this is a classic example of there is “No such thing as bad press”. Having said that, iSlate might have worked better, although as someone pointed out to me yesterday, that also spells “Is Late” and we know Apple is never late to anything.
OK, so I don’t love the name, but let’s get serious here. No camera?? This is by far the biggest disappointment for me. I was thinking based on the current trends in technology and the overflow of rumors on the Web that the Apple tablet would have two cameras. OK, not two, but none? That is bad news. Moving along, just like its baby brother, the iPad does not allow you to run multiple apps. OK, so what is this thing then? Is it a computer that only allows you to do one thing at a time? Is it an iPhone with a bigger screen? No, no phone calls. It is just confusing to me.
Regarding the eReader side of things, there is no denying the Kindle’s throne as the king of eReaders, and this device will not change that. Why? Well, there really are a few reasons that just like everything else the iPad does, it does not do eReading the best. The Kindle’s 400,000 book collection is one thing that will keep it on top, but its battery life leaves no room for the iPad and its 10 hour battery (as impressive as that might be for a media device/laptop/netbook/mobile phone, what is this thing?). 10 hours is nice, but not as nice as a week of reading time on the Kindle with the Wifi enabled (two weeks without).
One last reason the iPad will not become the ultimate eBook reader, which will turn the book and magazine industries upside down, is of course its connectivity. The basic iPad has Wifi and no 3G. For you non techies among us, that means if you are not in a hot spot (Starbucks or McDonald’s for example), you have no Web access. Yes, you can buy the more expensive model with 3G, but that also requires a data plan, whereas the Kindle has free 3G. So, I think it is safe to say, the Kindle can continue to sleep well at night.
I could really go on for a long time about the minuses of the iPad, but let me just summarize it by saying, the iPad is not the best device out there for anything. A computer that runs one app at a time wont work for most heavy users. An eBook reader with no constant and cheap access to the book store doesn’t cut it. A Web surfing device with no Adobe Flash is so 2009. I think the fact that the iPad is no smartphone is clear and obvious to all, unless your pants have some seriously large pockets. No USB port, no dragging and dropping files, no video output, and no memory expansion slot. So, I ask you this, what is the iPad in one, two, or three words?
Before I get pounded in the comments by all the fanboys, let me make myself 100% clear, the iPad’s interface is beautiful, the hardware is of course unprecedented in its simplicity, and the user experience looks like there is not much room for improvement. The fact that the hardware and software including the processor were all manufactured by Apple inc. is of course a huge advantage, but I just do not see how I, or anyone else who uses their computer, smartphone, or eBook reader intensively will be satisfied with the iPad’s specs and capabilities. To be honest, I am not even sure how I would hold the thing comfortably in a way that it would not feel awkward in my hand. That pretty much sums up the issue in a nutshell. If the iPad was the ultimate computing device, one that would compete with a Macbook for example, we would perhaps know how to hold the device. If it was a smartphone, I know how to hold a phone. An eBook reader, sure, hold it like a book. So, let’s leave it at this. Someone please define to me in the comments what the iPad is, so when I eventually do buy it (did you really doubt it for a second?), I will know how to hold the thing.