Jan 10

iPad: the day after

First the Jesus phone, now this?

Some stream-of-consciousness thoughts about yesterday’s launch of iPad:

Understatement of the day. CNN included this statement in their pre-event coverage: Apple CEO Steve Jobs is said to have taken an active role in the development of the company’s rumored tablet device.

The name iPad. It had been growing on me prior to launch. Back-rationalizing aside (or is that back-pedaling?), there’s a lot of logic to it. My idealized version of Apple just isn’t quite so logical. The good news is: the name is short, heavily branded and looks damn good on the device. Remember, names are only scrutinized at the beginning. After that, they’re just names. (Google? Get out.) And yes, this does give our little friend i a new lease on life.

Home-grown processor. A double big deal. Those who played with iPad after the show reported that it’s wicked fast. Even better, Apple makes the A4 processor themselves. That’s a ton cheaper than buying it from Intel, and clearly the main reason it’s as affordable as it is. Good name, too. I can just imagine the conversation. “It’s Apple’s first processor, so let’s call it A1.” “Nah, doesn’t sound very advanced. A4 is three generations faster.”

Leaks hurt. When product details leaked in advance of past Macworld shows, the event never seemed quite as exciting. Yesterday felt a bit like that — because so much about iPad had been rumored or predicted with fair accuracy. iPhone looked nothing like the rumors had it.

Professional jealousy. I know from experience that all this fanfare and anticipation often grates on other technology companies. “5% of the market share, 95% of the PR,” they moan. Hey, nothing’s stopping Dell from holding a major press event to announce their newest Inspiron.

User switching. iPad feels like the perfect device to keep on the coffee table for the whole family to use. So how does email work when you pass the device to another user? Log off/log on? Fast user switching? Just curious.

Category overload. Steve took special care to present iPad as a third category of product, positioned between iPhone and MacBook. He even concluded the show by asking “do we have what it takes to establish a third category of products?” I get that. Not to be a stickler, but Steve did introduce iPhone three years ago as Apple’s third category of products. Those are the product tabs currently on apple.com (Mac, iPod, iPhone). So how many categories of product does Apple now sell? Three or four? Will the tabs on the website change, or does iPad join forces with iPhone? (Even though it is actually more similar to iPod touch.)

Multitasking. Missing in action. Big problem. Especially when even Droid is out there multitasking its little heart out. iPad runs zillions of apps — but only one at a time. Fix, please.

No camera. Big problem #2. How can you have offer such a natural, trend-setting, socially-minded device without the ability to video chat? Probably some physical reason why, but Apple has bent the laws of physics before.

Where’s iLife ’10? Okay, so I was wrong about this prediction. But now that I am humbled, I do remember how Mac OS X was once delayed for six months because Apple’s software resources were focused on developing iPhone. We have to remember that Apple isn’t Microsoft. (Like that’s tough to remember.) They don’t have thousands of programmers. When they have a major challenge, it’s all-hands-on-deck time. Maybe we’ll get a new iLife by spring? I will continue to predict until I get it right.

Apple logo. Is that big Apple logo on the back facing the right way? It’s correct in portrait position, but it’s sideways in landscape position. The images on apple.com seem to be a 50-50 mix of vertical and horizontal orientation, so there is no right or wrong here. I think it’s time for the world’s first accelerometer-based swiveling logo.

Questionable icon. My eyes, my eyes. What’s with the iBooks icon? Click the right arrow on the iPad Gallery page to see the icon lineup. They’re all colorful and beautifully designed — until you get to iBooks. It’s Zune brown, and feels a few decades behind. Can we send that one back?

Overall: iPad has a lot to love, but nirvana is still up the road apiece. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing — Apple’s starting point is light years beyond the other guys’ ending point.

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  • Laurent

    Nice post, Ken. I’ve especially got to agree that after the fact — snickers notwithstanding — “iPad” does seem like a total no-brainer. Now that it’s out there, it’s like…”Well, duh. What else would they call it?”

  • Chinmay

    What about absence of Flash? isnt it a big issue for user’s web experience?

  • ken segall

    Probably should have mentioned that one too. But Flash is a mixed bag of sorts. Plenty of detractors out there. The argument gets a little too technical for my taste — I only know that it’s frustrating not to be able to see something that everyone else can see.

  • ChuckO

    The flash argument is very simple from Apple’s POV.

    Adobe doesn’t allocate much in the way of resources for Flash on Apple’s OS’s and it doesn’t work that great. It’s the unofficial #1 cause of crashes.

    Flash is a proprietary runtime that Apple doesn’t control. you can see the multitude of issues that could cause from the above point to battery issues to it’s ability to leverage Apple’s platforms for it’s own gains and Apple can’t optimize it like it can for open web standards like javascript.

  • ChuckO

    Have you seen the video at Apple.com? The animations they did are gorgeous. The way the bookshelf spins to reveal the bookstore and some other stuff. I gotta say I’m a sucker for that stuff.

  • Oriesko

    On camera expense… I presume, if there was any camera, it would be front face, on the opposite side of the Home button, right?

    Well… can you imagine how would picture from that camera look like having iPad wobbly balancing on your lap, especially in landscape position? Nice image for all these big belly, double neck and hairy nostril lovers, huh? No, thank you.
    Get some 3dr party add-on cam to dock connector (coming soon) if you fancy, but I’m not.

  • ChuckO

    I was suprised by the lack of a camera for iChat also but from what I’ve read video chatting is a non-starter. People don’t use it much.

  • Kesey

    “Apple’s starting point is light years beyond the other guys’ ending point.”

    Oh, come on. Screen size aside, what is light years beyond about this device when compared to the iPhone, Nexus One, HD2?

    Locked down OS
    No Multitasking
    No Flash
    No Camera
    No Widescreen

  • Shehan

    Sadly.. I feel this will be a mishit for Apple. The problem all starts with the name. Yes it takes time for the names to sink in, but for Apple this was never the case in the past.

    iMac, iPod, iPhone all stuck well.. but the word iPad.. just doesn’t. I still cant get way from thinking about something else when I say iPad!.

    The other is that home screen on the iPad. Its a giant iPod Touch!.. They really need to “REINVENT” the home screen to differentiate it from their existing money makers for it to “establish a third category of product”

    Until they make these changes, this will sell, but not as well as it is expected to sell for an Apple Product.

  • ChuckO

    These aren’t PC’s. Apple’s not trying to replace your MacBook or laptop for a third of the price. You either see this as a better option than a netbook or you can buy a netbook or you can wait until the iPad get’s better. I guarentee you Apple made it as good as they could in the time available. Some decisions were undoubtly complicated and strategic but I would bet none of them were made to piss anybody off for it’s own sake.

  • nobody’s saying Apple made decisions to piss anyone off intentionally, that just comes with the territory (you get lovers and haters for any launch) , but i do feel as if it were rushed to market and it might have been better to work on it a bit more, build in more features and keep people guessing another 6 months?

    as far as “establishing a third category”, they already did that, as ken pointed out, a few years ago … just launch hype talk from Jobs (he’s not above it) and this hybrid doesn’t quite fit the bill for the fourth category to conquer: small, productive, scalable, multi-functioning smart devices.

    if you’re a diehard Apple fan, chances are you’ve already asked Apple to notify you when these things are available at your price point … if you want something that does a bit more, then you either

    door no1: have to wait for Apple to catch up to your requirements

    door no2: get something else, like a netbook

    door no3: continue as you are and not buy anything until you find something worth sinking a few hundred dollars into …

    i’m with door no3.

  • ken segall

    Okay, I’m a fanboy. But my opinion is that Apple will do for the tablet market what it did for the smartphone market. It will provide a sense of direction that most will follow. (Just as your examples, Nexus One and HTC, were born into an iPhone-inspired world.)

    As I said, I do think iPad has to follow its own direction before anything revolutionary happens. Bigger things are ahead, as the publishing pieces fall into place — and as more features are added.

    Remember also that Apple’s strength is in assembling existing technologies into devices that are incredibly seductive. They don’t sell to people who want all the features at the lowest price, they sell to those who love simplicity and design. Those people are not the majority — but they’re out there in enough numbers that Apple is extraordinarily profitable.

  • ken segall

    I’m not worried about the name. Give it another six days :) But I do agree with you completely about the home screen. I was expecting something different there. We’ll see how this evolves. Keep in mind that Apple doesn’t really test their products first, they just do what they think is right. It’s only after they launch that they start finding out what people love or hate, and they do adapt.

  • Laura B. Whitmore

    Wow, Ken, I can hear those little wheels whirling in your brain right now. Did you get any sleep last night?!

  • rd

    User Switching: how do you share your ipod touch.
    No concept of a login user too complicated.

    Multitasking is just a red herring. a talking point
    like copy-n-paste was last year.

    I don’t think this is a third category. It is just extension of the iphone/itunes ecosystem.
    Apple could have easily come out with $1500 version
    for rich people, may be with OLED.

    iPad: Steve Jobs didn’t want iSlate because HP would
    be able to copy it with HP Slate. Whereas with iPad, Apple only has only to fight Fujitsu.

  • Kesey

    @rd: Couldn’t disagree with you more. Multitasking is so much more than a talking point.

    Do you ever listen to music and browse the web at the same time? Without multitasking Pandora won’t be running when Safari is.

    What about iChat? Can’t have that open if you’re doing anything else.

    Slingbox? Won’t have the TV streaming when you’re browsing the web.

    There are countless other reasons to run more than one application at once and the iPad not being able to mulitask is the biggest reason I hate myself right now for knowing I’ll probably end up buying one of these things.

  • ChuckO

    Kesey, You can listen to iTunes or iTunes radio while using any other app. Like iPhone these devices multi-task. It’s just a different type of multi-tasking. And before you tell me I’m wrong I’ll give you an iPhone example your listening to iTunes or browsing with Safari and the phone breaks in on you or you get a notification that an email came in. Not sure why you want to stream TV while browsing the web.

    I think the stuff that’s cool about the iPad is the stuff that Apple usually excels at which is an amazing level of refinement. I suspect you’ll be much more impressed when you can actually try one.

    Before you tell me I’m crazy read the post I add right after this one. It was the first comment I posted on Ken’s “’twas the night before tablet…”

  • ChuckO

    Here’s that post-

    I think this will be a tough one for Apple. There’s so little else of interest going on that this tablet thing has taken on a life if it’s own. This is the opposite of the iPhone announcement to me. People just wanted a combo phone/iPod and got a whole re-imagining of the smart phone. This time everyone is expecting the earth to move and it will be hard not to disappoint. If half of what people are predicting get’s released (iPhone OS 4.0, updated iLife, reinvention of the magazine, books, newspapers, TV subscription) then I suspect they can succeed on volume.

    Not saying the new thing won’t be a big hit just talking about the chances for post-announcement let down. Apple’s like the modern equivalent of The Beatles to me. We expect them to constantly blow us away with unimagined creativity.

  • Kesey

    @ChuckO – iTunes isn’t in my ecosystem so I specifically stated Pandora.

    As for streaming TV, it’s great on a Laptop or Netbook as a small window off in the corner that I set to be always on top. With the iPad screen resolution there’s no reason each app has to take up the entire screen.

  • Kerris

    “I will continue to predict until I get it right.”

    I don’t know why, but that made me laugh. :D

  • Taxi

    The negative iPad comments around the intertubes remind me of all the comments that came out after the release of the iPhone – many of which are identical to those being made now (multitasking, camera, blah blah blah). History shows us that the people making these comments were very much mistaken.

    Every time I see a negative comparison of the iPad to a Netbook, I cringe. Does any Netbook on the market contain a high-resolution touch screen matrix? Do they contain accelerometers or compasses? Do they have IPS screens? No – because they are just little, cheap laptops. The iPad is not a little laptop. Apple know who they are aiming this device at, and it’s not you. Just because it contains a computer, doesn’t mean it’s made for computer nerds.

    After 25 years in the IT industry, I am completely sick of the arbitrary complexity of computing these days. For me, the iPad is the perfect device.

    It is truly “the computer for the rest of us”.

  • ChuckO

    kesey, I know you stated Pandora I was just making the point you can listen to music and do something else. Apple gives you that ability (which hey also encourages you spend money at their store who-da-thunk).

  • ken segall

    Bingo. Couldn’t agree with you more. I think Apple has created a new category with limitless potential — but it’s a category that isn’t for everyone. It takes some effort for people to recalibrate for a new way of doing things. The IT community was in horror that iMac didn’t have a floppy drive. Somehow they learned to live with that notion.

  • the machines preceding the iMac didn’t have floppy bays either, i thought they phased those out with the PowerPC’s?

  • ken segall

    Nope. iMac was the first to eliminate the floppy.

  • oh right, when the iMac looked a baby Gamara … forgot

    ’97? 98? 99?

    Ken: ’98 (how time flies)

  • Also Notes and Contacts icons are not so nice.

  • Steven

    Great post; my reply’s late, but:

    The iPhone wasn’t positioned so much as a “new category in a single user’s environment,” because the iPhone _included_ the “best iPod we’ve ever made.” So the iPod as tool for a user was really supplanted by the iPhone for many people. I’m probably mis-remembering, but I don’t recall the same emphasis on “new category” with regards to the iPhone launch, more like “category reduction by consolidation.”

    The iPad is, correctly, positioned as a legit “new category.”

    I enjoy your blog-

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