Apple iPad first thoughts

I know it’s going to be a big success but at first glance it’s confusing as to where its market is.

It’s not a replacement for a laptop:

  • it has no USB ports for peripherals
  • no multi-tasking (we think)
  • limited opportunity to develop applications for it (developers have to work within the walled garden of the AppStore and users have to sync through iTunes)

But it’s too big to be pocketable so it’s not a replacement for a PDA like an iPod Touch.

If I wanted to actually “do” anything then I’d take a laptop along with me, if I wanted to read a book or a PDF then my gut feel is that I’d rather have an eReader (Engadget has a great comparison with the Kindle), if it’s just for casual internet access then a smartphone will do.

I think a major part of the market for the iPad is going to be iPhone users who are finding it too hard to read all the information that they’ve got access to on the screen of their phone.

Besides products, Apple are also great at making markets. Just because few people can see a need for a product today doesn’t mean that they couldn’t take advantage of it if they had one. Lots of Apple fans will buy them regardless, even if they already carry an iPhone and a MacBook around with them. And once they get the product out there in people’s hands in quantity, applications and use-cases will follow. It’s sure to be another winner.

I think most people considering the iPad will already have a smartphone and probably a laptop as well. I think we can also assume that these people carry their smartphone with them everywhere. So, if we’re assuming that technology purchases are made with the intention of simplifying our lives then will you be taking your iPad with you in situations where you previously took your laptop (which I see as a win)? Or will you now be carrying three devices (which I see as a fail)?

Continuing from that… if you’re already carrying your smartphone around with you everywhere, I see the 3G option as unnecessary for most people. Why not save the $130+$30/month (or Canadian equivalent) for iPad 3G access and tether the iPad to your phone? As far as I can see, there’s no definitive statement as to whether or not the iPad can be tethered. But you can bet that any lock-down that Apple put on it will be broken within a month or two and I’m sure tethering is one of the things that the community will enable.

Whilst thinking about phones, one of the features that interested me was the inclusion of a microphone. Whenever I see a microphone on a wireless device, my first thought is of Skype (even though I’ve barely ever used Skype myself!). The lack of a camera might be an issue for some people but, especially now that Apple have graciously allowed VoIP applications to connect over 3G, you could actually use the iPad to make phone calls. It’s probably a little on the large side to replace your mobile phone and the lack of multi-tasking means that you couldn’t talk to someone whilst you get information for them from an email or a webpage but I think it’s an interesting use-case – especially when tied to an unlimited data plan.

Oh, and we can’t talk about the iPad without talking about the horendous name. Everyone seems to have agreed that it’s dreadful.. but then is it much more dreadful than iPod sounded when we first heard it? Heck, look at all the flack that Nintendo took for the Wii and that didn’t stop it flying off the shelves. I suspect in a few months we’ll have forgotten all the feminine hygiene wisecracks and moved on. Breaking out of the i{thing} naming pattern is long overdue for Apple. But the brand recognition of i{thing} is immense… I can’t see Apple having the guts to do it and, as a result, I think it’s actually becoming an Achilles heel of the brand as much as it’s a strength.

2 comments to Apple iPad first thoughts

  • Jamison Brasswell

    Laptops will revolutionize the world when they are accessible to everyone financially. Think of every man and women, having a personal laptop.

    • Jon Jennings

      Maybe true – although it’s debatable whether or not this counts as a laptop or whether or not this counts as financially accessible.

      I don’t think the pricing is going to make it accessible to people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to mobile computing.