iPad: What Is It and How Would I Use It? Anyone?

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By: @Hilzfuld

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.


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Hillel Fuld is a global speaker, entrepreneur, journalist, vlogger, and leading startup advisor. He brings over a decade of marketing experience with leading Israeli and Silicon Valley startups, and currently collaborates with many global brands in an official marketing capacity including Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Huawei, and others.      Hillel covers the dynamic local tech scene for many leading publications including Entrepreneur magazine, Inc, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more.    Hillel has been named Israel’s top marketer, 7th top tech blogger worldwide, has been featured on CNBC, Inc, and was dubbed by Forbes as “The Man Transforming Startup Nation into Scale-up Nation”.       Hillel has hundreds of thousands of followers across the social web and can be found on Twitter at @Hilzfuld. You can learn more about him on his website: www.hilzfuld.com


26 thoughts on “iPad: What Is It and How Would I Use It? Anyone?

  1. Best review/assessment of iPad i’ve read so far. You’ve tackled everything point by point.

    And frankly, I agree on the downsides of iPad.. especially on how to hold it in your hands without feeling awkward (or having to worry it would fall off as u balance it on your palm).

    That is, besides calling it an iPad. The name is flat.. like a pad.. Well… maybe it would live up to its name anyway..


  2. Hi Hillel – You said it “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.”

    You are NOT the target audience for this device – it is for the non-geek who doesn’t need to multi-task, wants simplicity and an exceptional user-experience – the casual gamer, the facebook user, your family members outside the tech sophisticated bubble. That is who Apple is always targeting – thus the attention to packaging, easthetics and brand control.

    Its funny that those who are “obligated” to write about this have the least appreciation for it – because, like movie critics who get paid to see movies, and therefore are jaded and critical – techie bloggers are the same way- you are too busy thinking about your criteria and expectations that you don’t appreciate the bigger (market) picture…

    No, I don’t work for Apple. And I wouldn’t buy the first version – but plenty will. Thanks for your article!

  3. Cindy, I agree with our comment, but why limit the market you are targeting by leaving out such basic things like multi tasking? Reminds me of the lack of copy paste in the first iPhone.

  4. For me the only time I would use this device is at home after work when I just relaxing. During that time I like to watch TV and catch up with emails. The iPad doesn’t even allow that. Apple needs to have background apps on such a device with the ability to re size the windows.

    They came out with a keyboard any news about a mouse?

    For the road (plane) warrior its great but for the average guys its a very hot toy. I think the next gen of the iPad will be much better and I do think the UI at this point is quite primitive.

  5. I agree with Cindy F Solomon, I feel like this device is for the non-geek user. When I was following the liveblog of the event last night, I immediately thought of getting one for my father. I’ve setup my old iBook for him to browse the Internet and to check his mails but it he keeps on struggling. With the iPad’s simplicity, I think he’ll get the Internet right this time.

    Sure as a geek I feel a little underwhelmed by it, no multitask meaning no music while browsing? No sir. However if you take it as what it is, a casual on the go Internet browsing device, with a gorgeous screen for colorful magazines or comics books (Hope to see Marvel sign a deal with Apple), I think it’s pretty cool. Plus I really think the community will take advantage of the device quickly by releasing innovative apps. I mean, the iPhone is what it is today thanks to the applications right? It’s like what you wrote on a previous article on apps being more important than the hardware (iPhone > HTC HD2). Nowadays all people care about the iPhone are the apps.

    I really think the let down the IT/geek/prosumer community has felt last night will quickly be forgotten thanks to apps.

    Just my 2 cents.

  6. Hillel, great write-up/review/blog/critique of the ipad. 🙂
    I too have no idea what the exact sole purpose of the device is for? Is it for the office? Probably not? Is it to replace your laptop or home computer? Unlikely. ITouch? No way. So the real important question is, who will buy one? And as Cindy so accurately mentioned in her comment, ipad will appeal to the simple family, college student(?), who are all looking for a great internet browsing experience. Nuttn more, nuttn less.
    I predict sales to drop pretty sharply after 1-2 months….shares will fall…people will get fired at apple….this launch was a disaster! ibrutal!

  7. Thanks YoungShaka for the idea, I think I’d get one of these for my grandparents. They’ve been wanting a laptop to keep in touch with their grandchildren but no one has the time to teach them how to use one. We gave them an iPod Touch a few months ago and they’ve been able to navigate the functions, the iTab would simply be easier on the eyes!

    Thanks Hillel for the great review as usual!!

  8. Great writeup! Indeed, this is not a simple topic to write about, and you’ve accurately nailed it… The iPad really does not fall within the usual definition of computing devices as we know them. But, on the other hand, if we take a minute to imagine what computers should be like in the future and look at things from that perspective – I think the iPad makes sense. When we look back some time from now, we might see the iPad as the forerunner for a new & dominant category of devices. A bit ironical for a device that really does nothing new 😉

    If this happens, I think the key to it would be application developers. Killer applications & games for this device can make all the difference, and I’m sure Apple is at least somewhat counting on this to happen.

  9. As I am perusing all this post-release analysis of the iPad across the web I am noticing a pretty consistent and MAJOR oversight in the analysis:

    iWork for the iPad!

    Now, it’s too early to see how “dummied down” iWork for the iPad is compared to Apple’s OS X version, but this software suite not only endows the iPad with productivity abilities BUT can read/write Office file formats. To me — for some usage scenarios — this elevates the iPad above simply being the “big iPod Touch” that many people settle their assumptions upon. Now, again, it is too early to tell how comprehensive the iPad’s ability to do the following will be, but OS X’s Mail, iCal and Address Book can all plug into Exchange Server 2007. Can the iPad’s? My experience with the iPhone/iPod Touch suggests that it may, for all configurations on your desktop or laptop are set in your iPhone/iPod Touch via iTunes.

    Things that are still a question for me, however, are: #1, file organization — as in a “desktop” or ability to sort files into subfolders. This was barely touched upon in the demos (pardon the pun), although the iPad has Apple’s global search capability, “Spotlight”. And #2, network connectivity. It may be weak in #1 and non-existent in #2, meaning a clumsy method of handling file transmission/reception might be relegated to email attachments… or MAYBE MobileMe’s cloud.

    Soooo… there are still some unanswered questions but there may be much more than meets the eye with the iPad. It might be closer to true “netbook” portable PRODUCTIVITY than assumed. Think about it: if a family already has a desktop at home, given that iWork/iPad is available, their college or university student offspring could possibly use such a device instead of a laptop, acting as a satellite to the mothership at home. An important question related to this type of use, however, is how fast could one swap between an eTextbook and their iWork/Pages term paper? We shall see.

    By the way, the internet makes it far too easy (and ego-stroking for some people) to whip out comments as “absolutes” (both readers and columnists). Do the research first, think about it, and check your bias at the door.

  10. I’m over 40 and I think Apple has nailed the over 40 demographic. These are folks with eyes that can’t quite make out the mini fonts on today’s ultralight laptops.

    I think the pixel doubling of iPhone apps is brilliant. For example, imagine syncing with your Microsoft Outlook calendar and actually being able to see your appointments and your week because the information is spread out over a larger screen.

    If I have a choice between a cool 2010 iPad and squinting at last year Blackberry through bifocals, which do you suppose I would choose?


  11. People just don’t get it. The iPad is the next iPod, it’s truly revolutionary – so it is not meant to be a bigger iPod or a smaller laptop.

    It will allow mobile access to internet content. With TV moving to the internet, it will be THE NEXT GEN TV, and with books moving to the internet, it will be THE NEXT GEN BOOK reader.

    Most people would find the iPad more then enough for reading books. Add animations and advertising, allowing for content or person specific advertising in book and you’ve just created a whole new ad market.

    Furthermore, there is no really good way to watch video ‘on the move’. iPad would do to video content what iPod did for music. It will allow kids to watch TV in their bedrooms, and allow adults to watch TV (or video content) on the way to work (those using public transport, of course).

    It didn’t come to life to become a better laptop or a better iPod. As Steve Jobs put it – it is a whole new industry – and he wasn’t thinking tablet – he was thinking internet video, and more interactive books, not to mention a great web browsing experience.

    iPod was never targeted at business and neither is the iPhone. However, they’ve both made what Apple is today.

    Apple is a mobile company. They do mobile music, mobile e-mail, mobile voice, mobile laptops, and now they’ll do mobile video and mobile books.

    It’s all about the content baby! 😉

  12. If iPhone was not released by Apple, then this iPAD would have been a instant flop and would have been declared not as invention, but an act of stupidity by Apple. Media gave unnecessary coverage. This also shows that Steve Jobs can be cheated by his subordinates. Well he deserves it. He stole the credit of his hard working employees for iPhone. So they tricked hiim to present this stupid product, iPAD, so that Steve Jobs looks an idiot. Yes, Steve Jobs is now officially an idiot.

  13. Not only do you not need multitasking, you don’t want it. It eats battery life. Apple have a great technology to circumvent this, with their messaging cloud. Basically your application registers for notifications, and it behaves as if it’s still running. When something interesting happens on the server side, your application gets notified and springs back to life. This makes much more sense from an energy saving point of view.

    I think you need to simply try it out, instead of writing 5000 word articles. You will know within 10 minutes whether or not it’s worth buying.

    I do agree with you on the lack of cameras. At the very least it should have had a front camera like the MacBooks have, for video conferencing (very natural for such a device, if you ask me!).

    About holding it – just hold it like a book 🙂

    I just hope they don’t make the mistake they made with the iPhone. When I read in bed and I wanna lie on the side, the page flips and it makes it impossible for me to read in that orientation. There should be a button to lock the accelerometer in applications…

  14. re: lack of camera, it is very difficult to properly control (i.e. not shake) a camera mounted on such a large device. Maybe not such a bad decision. Also, someone can come out with a bluetooth external, smaller camera for it?

    But the lack of background apps is unacceptable. Everyone was expecting OS 4 to solve that, yet no OS 4 was forthcoming. Maybe we will see it in the next 60-90 days. Let’s hope.

  15. I think iPad is a big stupidity from apple. OMG, you can browse the internet, so what? Ipod touch does it! IPad can do all the things an Ipod touch does; it’s just bigger! (P.S: I’ve been to the Apple Store today, tried the notes application and had a lot of writing with it, even if it was easy for me to write with an ipod touch. I’ll just buy the ipod touch 4th gen when it’ll come out and iPad sucks

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