The Case against the iPad

ipad

Apple released a new product, called the iPad, today. For those of you who don’t spend your days glued to Twitter, you can view all the details at Apple’s website. I’m not impressed. I’m a lifelong Mac fanboy, so I’m not averse to buying Apple stuff. But I don’t understand who this product is marketed for, and I’m disappointed that Apple has decided to adopt the iPhone’s locked-down platform strategy.

The iPad appears to be Steve Jobs’s attempt to roll back the multi-decade trend toward more open computing platforms. Jobs’s vision of the future is one that revolves around a series of proprietary “stores”—for music, movies, books, and so forth—controlled by Apple. And rather than running the applications of our choice, he wants to limit users to running Apple-approved software from the Apple “app store.”

I’ve written before about the problems created by the iPhone’s top-down “app store.” The store is an unnecessary bottleneck in the app development process that limits the functionality of iPhone applications and discourages developers from adopting the platform. Apple has apparently chosen to extend this policy—as opposed to the more open Mac OS X policy—to the iPad.

With the iPhone, you could at least make the argument that its restrictive application approval rules guaranteed the reliability of the iPhone in the face of tight technical constraints. The decision not to allow third-party apps to multitask, for example, ensures that a misbehaving app won’t drain your iPhone’s battery while it runs in the background. And the approval process makes it less likely that a application crash could interfere with the core telephone functionality.

But these considerations don’t seem to apply to the iPad. Apple is attempting to pioneer a new product category, which suggests that reliability is relatively less important and experimentation more so. If a misbehaving application drains your iPad battery faster than you expected, so what? If you’re reading an e-book on your living room couch, you probably have a charger nearby. And it’s not like you’re going to become stranded if your iPad runs out of batteries the way you might without your phone. On the other hand, if the iPad is to succeed, someone is going to have to come up with a “killer app” for it. There’s a real risk that potential developers will be dissuaded by Apple’s capricious and irritating approval process.

Finally, there’s the iBook store, Apple’s answer to the Kindle. From all indications, the books you “buy” on an iPad will be every bit as limited as the books you “buy” on the Kindle; if you later decide to switch to another device, there’s no easy (or legal) way to take your books with you. I think this is an issue that a lot of Kindle owners haven’t thought through carefully, and that it will trigger a backlash once a significant number of them decide they’d like to try another device.

This is of a piece with the rest of Apple’s media strategy. Apple seems determined to replicate the 20th century business model of paying for copies of content in an age where those copies have a marginal cost of zero. Analysts often point to the strategy as a success, but I think this is a misreading of the last decade. The parts of the iTunes store that have had the most success—music and apps—are tied to devices that are strong products in their own right. Recall that the iPod was introduced 18 months before the iTunes Store, and that the iPhone had no app store for its first year. In contrast, the Apple TV, which is basically limited to only playing content purchased from the iTunes Store, has been a conspicuous failure. People don’t buy iPods and iPhones in order to use the iTunes store. They buy from the iTunes store because it’s an easy way to get stuff onto their iPods and iPhones.

Apple is fighting against powerful and fundamental economic forces. In the short term, Apple’s technological and industrial design prowess can help to prop up dying business models. But before too long, the force of economic gravity will push the price of content down to its marginal cost of zero. And when it does, the walls of Apple’s garden will feel a lot more confining. If “tablets” are the future, which is far from clear, I’d rather wait for a device that gives me full freedom to run the applications and display the content of my choice.

Update: I guess I’ve been brainwashed by my iPhone not to notice this, but the other glaring flaw, as this post explains, is the lack of standard ports. The net effect of this is, again, to give Apple complete control over the platform’s evolution, because the only way to interact with the thing is through the proprietary dock connector. Again, this made a certain amount of sense on the iPhone, where space, weight, and ergonomics are at a premium. But it’s totally unacceptable for a device that aims to largely displace my laptop. Hell, even most video game consoles have USB ports.

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39 Responses to The Case against the iPad

  1. jhn says:

    The iTunes Store TOS at least indicate that the songs you buy from them, you buy. As in purchase, own, not merely license. It will be interesting to see how the Bookstore TOS compare with Kindle TOS, which are very much against that antiquated notion that you can “own” the things you buy.

    Also. The chokepoint is the App Store. Let them have their walled garden bookstore all day; the thing runs Kindle, Stanza, etc. Closed applications on an open device are no big deal, and it’s only the app store that prevents it from being at least semi-open.

  2. mk says:

    But these considerations don’t seem to apply to the iPad. Apple is attempting to pioneer a new product category, which suggests that reliability is relatively less important and experimentation more so.

    No, no, no, no, no. In order for people to want the iPad, it must not suck. A zoo of programs competing for resources on an ill-understood interface is a recipe for unexpected collisions and user annoyance. People will not keep buying something annoying.

    The imperative is to the keep the device sexy and never-annoying. If that requires putting somewhat of a brake on software development, no problem — as long as it’s so awesomely trendy that people are scarfing it up anyways.

    Recall that Apple started iTunes with DRM-’d content. Now you can buy MP3′s — while I don’t know the business strategy, I would guess that the primary purpose of DRM is to placate content providers who were shitting themselves over Napster. Eventually the content providers see the light and then the DRM can be lifted. (Of course in the process Apple is happy to make some extra money from the DRM).

    For the iPad I believe that Apple’s imperatives are (1) to control the user experience so it never sucks, and (2)to pry open content markets to the digital world, despite skittish providers. AppStore and DRM are two attempts to solve these issues. DRM, I believe, is destined to fall away, and Apple knows it. AppStore isn’t so bad: it’s like having wikipedia monitors.

  3. I was there with a DefectiveByDesign.org group today letting people outside the event know about these issues — especially the use of DRM to prevent users from installing software from anywhere else besides Apple, and Apple’s claim that users who want control over their own devices are doing something illegal (by breaking the DRM). For pics and a petition to sign, see: http://www.defectivebydesign.org/blog/apple-ipad-drm-petition. Thanks for calling more attention to them. All of the supposed benefits of the App Store (independent developer distribution, security, qa) could be had with a non-exclusive version of the store.

  4. David Sucher says:

    I am astonished that you could be many so many assumptions about so little.

    I think you may want to slow down just a bit before you are so sure.

    Stanza and Kindle will open up huge troves, for example.

  5. Alex c says:

    Well they claim it supports epub, we’ll see if it supports epub from outside their book store.

  6. Barbara Saunders says:

    “The parts of the iTunes store that have had the most success—music and apps—are tied to devices that are strong products in their own right.”

    This bit is the key for me. In my view, Apple (and the iPod) did not really reinvent the music-listening process. In 1982, when my first Sony Walkman opened the door, allowing me to carry around music of my choice on cassettes(!), I wished for something lighter, cheaper, that could hold more music, and that didn’t require carrying around and changing the media that held the songs. Of course, I couldn’t imagine what that device would actually be, let alone how to create it! The iPod served needs well within the realm of awareness.

    Ditto the iPhone. Once I switched from communicating primarily by phone and in real time to communicating asynchronously by email and then to being able to broadcast and/or receive information from social networks, having a mini-device I could carry “instead” of a phone (with the phone as a backup,) the iPhone was an easy sale. Now that I have the product, I buy all sorts of apps that I probably would never have felt any urgency to possess.

    I have a harder time imagining having use for a device that is way bigger than my phone and doesn’t allow typing like my laptop. Perhaps I’m not the target customer, though: I listen to music on buses, in line, etc., places where I can’t imagine ever watching video. I use my Kindle much the way I would use a regular book; the added distraction of being able to search the Web on the same device would not be an advantage for me.

  7. Brooksmith says:

    While your complaints about the App Store are valid, the insinuation that Apple controls what content you view isn’t quite right. As you surely know, the iPhone and iPad can display just about any document–txt, pdf, doc, html, rtf–and iTunes can play practically all major audio formats; it’s easy enough to convert any video to mp4 or mov or whatever and load it into iTunes as well. Any artist/author/musician can give or sell their work however they wish, and chances are, it’ll load onto the iPhone or iPad just fine.

    The App Store, ITMS, and Book Store, it seems, are much like any other retail establishment, in that they control what they sell. Try starting your own publishing firm, publishing a book, and getting it stocked in your local B&N or Borders (much less the whole chain), and you’ll run into the same proprietary, top-down, pushy system–far less enlightened and more restrictive than the App Store, in fact. Most video game platforms are more proprietary than the App Store, as well. As I see it, your complaints about Apple’s stores are valid enough, but they are far from the worst offenders; they just seem to attract more attention, largely because of their popularity and success.

  8. Bradley says:

    By all means don’t wait until we actually know what the TOS and DRM situation is for iBooks before you pre-criticiz – After all, why complain about facts when we can complain about speculations? Complaining towards Apple about DRM is a bit old hat, it should be clear by now that the motivating force behind that technology is the content providers. (Indeed, they have admitted as much) It is unclear what resource limitations are on the iPad, indeed we don’t even know how its memory architecture is handled but if you think the App Store is a serious discouraging factor for developers the burden is on you to explain the 140K+ applications already available there. Maybe a few developers have been scared away, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the level of development to a significant degree. indeed for a company that is supposedly “fighting against powerful and fundamental economic forces.” they are meeting with unparalleled financial success in exactly the areas where they are adopting the approach you disagree with.

  9. ededco says:

    I totally agree with you. Read about my case against the iPad in the classroom at http://www.ededco.com/ipad-in-the-classroom

  10. nic says:

    I find it very strange that a self proclaimed Apple fan can be surprised by the company choosing a relatively more closed path in developing a product…

    As for pushing developers away, that is just not what we see. The App Store is a huge success. And many companies have been choosing the iPhone plataform when they decide to release some kind of off-browser application. Other plataforms are being widely ignored, only Android has being catching up.

    Nokia has released Maemo before the iPhone came about, and even sooner than the Appp Store. That platform is as open for development as one might wish. But it has not attracted a number of developers and users anywhere close to the size of the iPhone crowd.

    Maemo is just a Debian based GNU/Linux distro. It can multitask naturally. But the truth is multitasking will sooner or later make your system crawl and let you angry. Apple crate their products for people who are extremelly sensitive to seeing their machines crawl, and don’t have great multitasking needs. It is just easier and more intuitive for the average user to deal with a single-tasking and fast device than to live with the frustrations of a sluggish multi-tasking device.

    The same goes for choices like stucking a large internal flash memory instead of using removable sd cards. It’s just simpler and ensures a great performance. They always go for the “frustration free” path, specialy when it implies lock-in to other Apple products. Word on the street is you should buy all things Apple so they “just work” together.

    Yes, we the more knowledgeable users and developers know it can be more flexible, powerful, adaptable. For us there are alternatives… But they are going for the big money. They are digital demagogues, and proud of it. And we have no right to be surprised anymore.

  11. Josh says:

    I think mk has a point. While a 1Ghz chip with no apparent multi-tasking seems outrageous, I bet within a year we’ll see that open up. I think the parallel is this:

    Apple can’t allow multi-tasking on the iPad because it runs the same apps as the iPhone, which itself does not allow multi-tasking. And the iPhone won’t allow multi-tasking until Apple can guarantee the experience won’t suck. And for that to happen we need a new iPhone model with a faster processor and more memory. Which model just might be announced later this year.

    I’d be shocked if the iPad goes more than a year without multi-tasking, but I’d also be shocked if that same capabilty wasn’t brought to the iPhone as well. Remember how long it took to get copy & paste on the iPhone? Remember how much better it is on the iPhone than just about every other platform? Be patient. We’ll get there.

  12. Akusu says:

    Hrmmm.

    I think the biggest reason I’ve never gotten anything past an iPod (that I don’t use) is because the device is simply too limited.

    There’s no way I’m going to get a device that seems to be attempting to take a chunk out of the laptop niche, if it doesn’t have a normal OS on it. Tiny device = obvious limitations. Normal-sized device = why are there limitations at all?

    I already have an eReader. It’s called a computer, and I like it very much, thank you. Book-wise, I don’t see the point, and frankly I’d like to see eBooks available more in formats that are readable by any computer. Delivering it to a locked-down device may help prevent piracy but it doesn’t attract sales either.

  13. HSK says:

    This is not a geek’s product as is evident on the tech sites and forums. The gadget geeks agree with you. However, IMO, this device is more for the masses – mainly those folks with kids who have iPod Touch’s that have always wanted a bigger screen.

    And really, if you want an “open” platform, wait on the Android tablets.

  14. Menso Heus says:

    My issue is also with the closed platform. I was hoping for a Macbook without a keyboard but instead it’s a huge iPhone. I’ve got a Macbook and iPhone and I really started loving my iPhone once I jailbreaked it and could let it’s awesome hardware live up to it’s full potential.

    The iPad seems more like a device you have on lease from Apple than it is actually yours. Instead of buying a house, you’re renting an appartment and Apple tells you whether or not you can expand the bathroom, remodel the kitchen or repaint the living room, as they do on the iPhone.

    I don’t agree with developers being chased away, there’s too many apps out there. But when one can choose between this and a netbook half the price on which you can run about anything, I’m not so sure too many people will get this. Admittedly, it is sexy as hell, which helps a lot of course, as it did the iPhone.

    As to the previous commenters remark about SD cards: 64 GB is simply not enough, I could not possibly sync my photo & music library from my mac to the iPad. If I could add another 32 GB for $75 on SD though, I would be.

  15. Sean says:

    I think you’re right that the App Store structure discouraged a lot of third-party developers from adopting the iPhone/iPod platform. I was one of them. But the thing to bear in mind there is that the iPhone was never really a viable platform for application development (aside from games and widgets and novelties). The iPad is shaping up to be a far, far more promising platform for more serious apps.

    And the App Store is an annoyance, surely, much like magazine ads — an annoyance that helps pay for the product. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll take it.

  16. Padster says:

    “The store is an unnecessary bottleneck in the app development process that limits the functionality of iPhone applications and discourages developers from adopting the platform.”

    Hmmm. So that’ll be why the App store is a spectacular runaway success, with 140,000 apps available, then?

  17. Aaron Massey says:

    Re: Padster

    “Hmmm. So that’ll be why the App store is a spectacular runaway success, with 140,000 apps available, then?”

    Actually, that’ll be why the App store *only* has 140,000 apps and why there are many high profile rejections like Google Voice and disgruntled developers like Rogue Amoeba.

    The ultimate test to see if the App store actually provides value is to create an unmoderated, uncensored channel for purchasing and installing applications for the iPhone. Then the iPhone wouldn’t be limited to only those applications that are Apple-approved. If the App store (and by extension Apple’s approval process) actually provides value, then it will remain popular with both users and developers despite this new competition. If it doesn’t actually provide value, then there would be a mass exodus of both users and developers to the free-as-in-freedom version.

  18. Brooksmith says:

    “Actually, that’ll be why the App store *only* has 140,000 apps”

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/cell-phones/?p=851

  19. buk says:

    Imagine if Microsoft decided to develop an “App Store” for Windows PCs to ensure a better running experience. How long until that got overturned in court..

  20. wub says:

    how long do you think it will take for another community of developers to show us how to adapt the device for our ends…legally? The same complaints were made before Cydia.

  21. Reinardt Bronkhorst says:

    People just don’t get it. This concept of the cost of content going down to zero is not sustainable. It’s backed by advertising right. If everything becomes free eventually, what will there be to advertise.

    And the point of a locked in device is rather simple too. A great quality device with near perfectly working software and customer support.

    Or an open device that works some of the time and no customer support…?Not really a choice is it?

    What we all forget, and last nights release demonstrated again is that most of what you read on the internet is false. (all the leaks that came out). The so called zero value of content is largely driven because so much of it is false, misleading, duplicated.

    Think of the success of the app store thus far. At least in part it must be because it works. Struggling to get your app approved…work harder!

  22. Sandra says:

    What is all this obsessive talk about apps? 140,000 of them but their lustre faded long ago, as many of them are little more than novelties, as someone suggested before. What I am most excited about with Apple’s new tablet is iWork and what that will mean: a device that contains copies of my documents that I can modify in a whole new way away from home, with my fingers alone. Better than a memory stick because I can work on the files, and better than a laptop because it’s slimmer and easier to carry around and use. Sure, iWork has been split into three “apps” but that is just to maintain consistency in a superb multi-touch platform they have been developing up to for years–how can we expect them to completely throw out such a successful experience? It only makes sense that they’ve expanded upon it to make a tablet that’s not quite a laptop, but a step in the right direction to creating its replacement.

  23. myfewcents says:

    I believe everybody is comparing this to a laptop. As apple said, it’s something between iPod & laptop. This is going to be a bedside device that you use to check mail, browse, play,watch etc without having to switch on/off ur laptop etc.

  24. Marty says:

    I disagree on many of your points. If I may:

    “I think the primary intended use of the iPad is as an eBook reader.” The book reader wasn’t even the first app Jobs demonstrated. Why waste a 1GHz processor on a text display device?

    “The iPad appears to be Steve Jobs’s attempt to roll back the multi-decade trend toward more open computing platforms.” The iPhone and iPod haven’t been any more open than this. Consumers who use game consoles are used to this sort of locked-in behavior, and nobody complains about it there anymore.

    “There’s a real risk that potential developers will be dissuaded by Apple’s capricious and irritating approval process.” And yet, strangely, they don’t. Perhaps that’s because Apple isn’t really as capricious about app approval as the blogosphere would like to think.

    “The only way for third-party devices to connect to the iPad is through the proprietary dock connector.” This isn’t a computer; it’s a device that syncs to a computer. You have to stop thinking of it as a laptop or you’ll only obsess over its limitations. It works and acts like a giant iPod Touch, and that’s exactly what it’s supposed to replace.

    “From all indications, the books you “buy” on an iPad will be every bit as limited as the books you “buy” on the Kindle; if you later decide to switch to another device, there’s no easy (or legal) way to take your books with you. ” False. When you sync it to a PC, all your apps, music, videos and books sync with it — and can by synced to any other similar device from there.

    “Apple seems determined to replicate the 20th century business model of paying for copies of content in an age where those copies have a marginal cost of zero.” Not Apple; the IP owners are the ones insisting on restrictions, and Apple has actually been working to minimize those restrictions since the iTunes Store was first built. There has always existed the ability to put your own music and videos on the iPod, without going through the Store. Since the iPad supports the existing ePub book format, it seems it’s safe to assume you’ll be able to sync purchases from other ePub bookstores with it, too. The only things you HAVE to buy through the Apple Store is apps.

  25. Jon says:

    First off I want to say that this device on the surface looks damn sexy.

    Now that that is out of the way let me get to the point. This device has lots of pluses as you all already know, but also some glaring minuses. First off,with such a gorgeous screen and wireless capability it seems a travesty not to have a front facing camera. Think Skype. I guess they are waiting for the iPad 2.0. Let’s all hope it isn’t named the Max iPad.

    Secondly, the lack of ports is disheartening. I mean they couldn’t at least have added firewire or dvi? Apples two port types aside from the 30 pin that they for some reason religiously support.

    Thirdly, why is Apple going to have to make the jailbreakers set this device free too? When all they would have to do is allow multitasking, flash, bluetooth avrcp, and a few other system customizations. If they did that I bet near 90% of the iPhone jailbreakers would willing compute with in the walls of their closed garden. This could have also been solved by just actually creating a 3rd category as Apple claimed to be doing and configuring a specific OSX for the unfortunately named iPad.

    Even with all of the, to me, glaring short comings; its plus still have me on the fence. If there was a powerful rdesktop client for the iPad that could let me use it as just a portable extention of my much more powerful and capable home desktop that could put over the top for me. For as long as I had an internet connection all of the nonhardware shortcomings can be mitigated. Then again I think it just may be best to give it 6 months and see how the HP Slate and the Lenovo U1 turn out as well. But even then non of them have a camera…

  26. Dave says:

    This article made a blatant mistake which could have been fixed with two minutes of research.

    The Apple TV does a LOT more than just playing content purchased from iTunes. In fact, buying from their store is one of its least important features, especially to anyone who is truly dedicated to uncluttering and organization.

    I’ve been using an AppleTV for years and it has completely changed how I organize my media. And by media, I mean *EVERYTHING*. All of my music, photos, audio books, and DVDs are stored on the Apple TV for playback on my entertainment system. Even better, the system is completely controlled with an iPhone (and soon an iPad) using Apple’s free Remote software.

    If I want to play a song, a movie, or show off some photos, it just takes a few clicks of the iphone and it’s playing. I haven’t touched a CD, DVD, or printed photo in years. Nearly all of my physical media has been ripped, scanned, or digitized for the AppleTV, and then safely stored away as back up, completely out of sight.

    Even my dvd player has started collecting dust, and soon I may chuck it completely. Piles of discs which can be easily lost or scratched are completely a thing of the past, and even better — all of the ripped media is easily backed up on a spare hard drive.

    Yes the AppleTV is fully capable of buying and renting content from iTunes, but don’t be so cynical about that option. Once you realize how handy it is at organizing YOUR media first and foremost, you’ll see that iTunes access is mostly just a bonus feature. And besides, not having to hit Blockbuster is another pretty big perk.

    So before you knock the Apple TV again as a “failure”, maybe you should try one, or at the very least research it a little to fully understand what a versatile tool it can be for simplifying your life.

  27. Dave,

    Thanks for commenting. What tool did you use to rip your DVDs? I bet it was technically illegal under US law, and hence inconvenient for the average user.

    Also, I think it’s undeniable that the Apple TV hasn’t taken off like the iPod and iPhone have. Got an alternative theory for why that happened?

  28. Dave says:

    Most people don’t even realize it’s technically feasible to rip a DVD the same way they rip a CD, so there’s less demand for devices that handle digital video. Of course, that was an older generation. Nowadays “the kids” are ripping and swapping movies like school lunches, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes.

    Yes, the Apple TV hasn’t been a commercial hit like the iPod or iPhone, but that’s not my point. I’m simply arguing that it’s a truly fantastic device which might be a little ahead of its time. There just isn’t a better device on the market for organizing and playing all of YOUR digital media in one spot: movies (both commercial and home movies), music, photos — all of it. And some of it even in HD.

    If you had home movies converted to DVD, you now have an easy way of displaying them. Same goes for old photos you might’ve scanned, or new ones you snapped yesterday. They call be shown as a screensaver or digital pictureframe using the AppleTV instead of sitting on your computer’s hard drive, mostly forgotten.

    Every person who has seen my set-up has fallen for it and gotten one for themselves. Before then, they all had the mistaken belief that it was only for renting or buying movies from iTunes, probably because of Apple’s shoddy marketing campaign, which over-emphasizes buying from iTunes versus organizing and displaying your own library of content. Of course we shouldn’t be surprised since even Steve Jobs described the Apple TV as just a “hobby”. It makes one wonder if even he realizes how much it can do.

  29. Most people don’t even realize it’s technically feasible to rip a DVD the same way they rip a CD, so there’s less demand for devices that handle digital video.

    And that was my point. The reason iTunes won’t rip your DVDs the way it rips CDs is because ripping DVDs is illegal in the US. Most users don’t have the knowledge and skills to download illicit ripping software. And of course Apple’s not going to market its product as being primarily for illegal activities. So as a practical matter, the only reasonable way for ordinary users to get video onto their Apple TV is via the iTunes store. You’re right that I overstated the case–it’s technically possible to get content from other sources. It’s just sufficiently inconvenient that most people don’t bother.

  30. rayCote says:

    NEW CATEGORY = Virtual Digital Appliance = stop looking in rear view mirror

    The iPad is not intended to compete with net-books or ereaders. Those are just the up front, shot term, rationalized camouflage use cases. These old school use cases are still great use cases for the iPad. The iPad has an elegant simplicity that can easily reach out to encompass 99% of what Digital-Appliance-Users need to do on a daily bases. The iPad is not targeted at the geek-alter of kitchen-sink feature-list worshipers!

    ————————————–
    NEW CATEGORY = Virtual Digital Appliance = click to repurpose!
    ————————————–

    Process Displays / Process Controllers / Data Capture / Data Message / Data Visualization —> FOR:
    —- factory floor use cases
    —- office use cases
    —- medical use cases
    —- service industry use cases
    —- transportation industry use cases
    —- home media control use cases
    —- home security control use cases
    —- home smart energy & home plug use cases
    —- universal remote control use cases of all manner

    All these use cases can be instantly switched to an alternate Virtual Digital Appliance use case at will. This allowing you to repurpose your Virtual Digital Appliance as needed throughout your day or cycle shared units to employees as needed for various tasks, offering Apple customers great reuse cost efficiencies with low learning curve costs.

    All these use cases have built in wireless communications with web access, email, video, books/PDF manuals, sound files and more as the base line functionality. Now add a simple to use multi-touch interface based on Apple’s clever perceptual ergonomic sensibilities!

    So lets say your an old fart like me. I don’t need much computer techie heavy wait s**t. This thing is so simple even I can master it. Hell I bet I’ll be able to play tech whizz hero to my women friends and teach them to use it. This thing can meet all my computing and web access needs. I can even get a keyboard and call it my desktop unit. Hell its good enough for my simple daily portable laptop needs as well. All this plus 3G connectedness for only $700 bucks and I get to be that tech savvy guy down at the lawn bowling club as well! This could be a real chick magnet for me. I’ll have all the cougars taken a second look at this flashy high tech old geezer! First I’ll charm them with a few photos of the grandchildren and then accidently bring up my digital copy of the Kama Sutra while I show off how you can actually read book with this thing.

  31. Voice of Reason says:

    You need to re-watch the presentation and listen carefully. It’s not designed to be “a device that aims to largely displace my laptop”, it’s a device that coexists with your laptop and smart phone. Therefor, lack of USB is not the issue you make it out to be.

  32. Russ says:

    I don’t think Apple would have pursued the iPad just to compete with netbooks or eReaders, they are looking to create a new product category. The demographic of tech-savvy consumers already using smartphones, netbooks, etc– is not who Apple is after.

    When the iPod came out, everyone was saying “How can this succeed? I can store many more songs on device X, or device Y costs much less than the iPod”…but Apple blew the doors off that category.

    Apple was able to pull in a whole new group of consumers that never used digital music before. I think the iPad has the qualities to pull in a bunch of new, technophobic consumers, but Apple needs to define a killer app for this platform. For the iPod it was digital music and the iTunes store.

    For the iPad, I don’t think digital books/magazines will be the killer app. Perhaps in a future release (when they add the videocam that is sorely missing) it will be videochat over IP…the attractive AT&T prepaid plans will help immensely. It almost makes me think that Apple is pursuing a “Trojan horse” strategy…get AT&T to create these great no-contract prepaid data plans for the iPad by not positioning the iPad as a communications device. Then, iPad2 has unlimited videochat on prepaid data plans, easy enough for grandma to use: killer app.

  33. rorkesdrift says:

    How can you be an Apple fan and be surprised that they are using a closed system. Historically, and I mean back to the days of the Apple II, they have always restricted the development of programs. This lack of openess is what almost sunk the company and explains why they have such a tiny percentage of the computer market. If they had not created/marketed the Ipod when they did then the company would have probably disapeared long ago or stayed as a minor player in the computer market only used by hipsters and the anti pc crowd (the same people that to this day run around claiming that beta was better than vhs and should have become the standard).

  34. Jon F says:

    Explain to me what you would use a USB port for on a device with applications that are as limited as you describe… Apple would have to approve an application that interacted with a USB device, and if they do approve a peripheral, then the third part manufacturer could just use the 30-pin connector…

  35. Wilson says:

    I know I’m literally way behind on this, but my parents read all their Kindle books on their iPhone

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000301301

    and presumably they will be able to do so on the iPad.

  36. If the iPod was introduced in 2001 without the ability to play MP3 music then it would have sold as poorly as the Apple TV in 2007 without the ability to play DivX video.

  37. Nigel Shaw says:

    You’re an idiot.

  38. God apple fails says:

    This thing is retarded. So I should spend $400+ so that i can check my email for few minutes? It cant even multitask. Thats stupid even for an average user. No USB is sooo bad. WASTE of money

  39. Seth Haw says:

    I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information ,.’

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