What do the new Apple iPad and Google's Nexus One have in common? Both were DOA: Disappointing On Arrival. Neither lived up to its advance publicity. Both also turned out to be more fashion accessory than the revolutionary gizmo each portended to be.
Why is the iPad a disappointment? Because it doesn't allow us to do anything we couldn't do before. Sure, it is a neat form factor, but it comes with significant trade-offs, too. No 16:9 widescreen, for example.
The iPad is more evolutionary than revolutionary. People have noticed this, as even a quick scan of news stories about the iPad will quickly point out. I wonder: Has Steve Jobs' fabled reality distortion field finally failed its creator?
Per usual, critics were also quick to point out the myriad of things the iPad wasn't capable of. For instance, check out this rundown from the ocwebdesignblog back from January 2, 2010.
Things the iPad can't do:
1. No Camera, that's right, you can't take pics and e-mail them.
2. No Web Cam, that's right, no iChat or Skype Video chatting.
3. No Flash, that's right, you can't watch NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX or HULU.
4. No External Ports, such as Volume, Mic, DVI, USB, Firewire, SD card or HDMI
5. No Multitasking, which means only one App can be running at a time. Think iPhone = Failure.
6. No Software installs except Apps. Again think iPhone = Failure.
7. No SMS, MMS or Phone.
8. Only supports iTunes movies, music and Books, meaning Money, Money, Money for Apple.
9. WAY, WAY, WAY over priced.
10. They will Accessorize you to death if you want to do anything at all with it and you can bet these Accessories will cost $29.99 for each of them.
We've all heard countless opinions about whether Apple's new, mid-sized form factor will be a hit. There's no doubt that the iPad is a slick, sexy device, but I don't think it will be an overwhelming success.
In the end, I think that the iPad will eventually be regarded much like Apple TV - a product that Jobs should have left on the drawing boards.
The iPad is not the revolutionary product so many hoped it would be. Instead, the device is simply a tablet computer with a unique operating system and one very important element: the Apple name.
The fact that the iPad comes from Apple is the device's greatest virtue. Without that Apple logo on the back, the iPad wouldn't have garnered the kind of attention it did on Wednesday. Today, people wouldn't be talking about the device at water coolers. Thanks to Apple, a device that is not revolutionary in any way has reached a level of hype that no other product on the market can muster.
You know, I'm a big believer in touch and digital reading, but I still think that some mixture of voice, the pen and a real keyboard - in other words a netbook - will be the mainstream on that," he said. "So, it's not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone where I say, 'Oh my God, Microsoft didn't aim high enough.' It's a nice reader, but there's nothing on the iPad I look at and say, 'Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.'"
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, New York Times, January 29, 2010
It was a bigger iPod Touch. I question whether those features would be enough to get people to buy new machines.
Thus, a reasoned analysis is that the iPad is to the iPhone & iPod Touch as the MacBook Air is to the MacBook. In other words, a cool product with a devoted base of happy customers, but in relative terms, a niche product in Apple's arsenal of rainmakers.
Charles Golvin, Forrester Research analyst, NYT on January 28, 2010
I think this will appeal to the Apple acolytes, but this is essentially just a really big iPod Touch.
Xbox co-founder and now HBO consumer technology head Otto Berkes wasn't as pessimistic as others were about the iPad, but took issue with the name and the screen size. Berkes' take is particularly interesting because he worked on Microsoft's Origami project.
A number of people have asked for my reaction to the iPad.
I will skip over the name which I think is terrible. iPad? Really?
Apple gets credit on execution and good packaging of available technology. That said, their thin slate is an unsurprising product in the context of an evolutionary timeline that spans decades of innovation and effort chasing the slate computing dream.
As a device, the iPad seems somewhat large and ungainly to me. With the 7"-display-based Haiku/Origami, I aimed for greater mobility in the tradeoff between mobility and display real estate. Not having a way to write on a pure slate device the size of piece of paper also seems pretty unnatural to me. One of the iPad demos shows a legal-pad background for note-taking, but then you have to use the on-screen keyboard. Say what? There's a real cognitive disconnect there. Of course, display size is highly subjective (hence the many variations in laptops) as is the relative importance of stylus functionality for different users and uses. There is plenty of room for continued development of and innovation with the slate form factor, and it will be interesting to see how the industry responds to Apple's interpretation.
It's not going to revolutionize anything, it's not going to replace netbooks, but it will find large and devoted audiences, particularly after the price drops and some features get added.
And as is typically the case, there were also naysayers down on the iPad before Apple even officially introduced it. For instance, check out this blurb from PC World's Bill Snyder from January 19, 2010.
Attention Apple fan-boys and -girls: Read no further. But if you run a small business and want to avoid wasting money and brain cells on superfluous technology, forget about the iSlate or whatever Apple is going to call its tablet computing device. It's going to be too expensive, it does things you don't need to do, and it will add a messy layer of complication to your company's computing infrastructure.