The iPad was announced yesterday after months of speculation and rumors. I didn’t think I needed a tablet computer and tried to ignore all the coverage, but with so much hype, I couldn’t help but be drawn into it and watch the live coverage as it was demoed.
Steve Jobs unveiled one of his typical sexy devices in his demo, but I think it will fail. Here’s just a few reasons why.
10. It doesn’t replace your laptop or your phone. It’s not a full laptop and it’s intended to be synced to a computer for content. It’s clearly too big to use as a phone even if it did have phone functionality. This means if you buy into an iPad, you’re buying and maintaining a 3rd device (and upgrading every few years). Few people would be able to use an iPad in place of a traditional laptop or desktop.
9. It doesn’t have a camera. As something like a kitchen computer, it would be ideal if it could do video conferencing, but there’s no camera on it. This is something they could easily add in a future revision, but it’s not there now.
8. There’s no keyboard. Yes, there’s an optional keyboard accessory and theoretically you could pair a bluetooth keyboard with it, but now you’re just pushing up the price of a device further into a price range that could get you a reasonable laptop or a very capable desktop. It’s hard to call this a credible email device when there’s no real keyboard on it.
7. The battery life isn’t great. The quoted life is 10 hours, but Apple wasn’t specific about what kind of usage that included, be it web surfing or watching videos. In contrast, the Kindle’s battery lasts for weeks. If I’m going to own a third device, I don’t want to have to remember to charge it nightly too.
6. It doesn’t multitask. Want to listen to music while you surf the web? Sorry, the iPad is not for you. Considering the beefy custom processor they put in it, this is highly surprising.
5. 3G Internet access is expensive. $14 a month for 250GB of usage on top of the $130(!) extra for an iPad with the 3G modem. There’s got to be some serious profits in that upgrade or they’re using the profits to pay AT&T. The Kindle’s wireless internet access is free. Admittedly, the web browsing experience on the iPad is a lot better than the Kindle.
4. The screen resolution is relatively poor. It’s 1024 x 768 vs 1280 x 800 for a MacBook. Many laptops at this price range have even bigger 15 inch screens. 1024 x 768 is a bit cramped for web browsing, even if it’s full-screen.
2. It doesn’t support Flash. Steve Jobs touted the iPad as having the full web experience moments before he displayed a web page with a big hole in it where the Flash content couldn’t load. The fact is that most video on the web uses Flash today because Flash support is so ubiquitous in browsers. So if you want to watch video, you need Flash, not to mention all the other games and other sites that require it.
1. You can’t run OS X software on it. Apple chose to use iPhone’s software store meaning the only way you can install software is through the App Store. This is terrible because you have this device that’s kind of a laptop that’s restricted as to what you can run on it. You can’t just download some software on the web and you can’t customize it unless Apple has approved that software. Apple has gotten a terrible reputation by rejecting applications from their App Store for questionable reasons. Their justification was that you didn’t want some rogue piece of software breaking your phone. The iPad is not a phone, so why does Apple want control over what software you can install on it? They take a cut of every software purchase through the App Store, that’s why.
The fundamental problem with the iPad that it’s a larger iPhone instead of a smaller MacBook. Give me a touchscreen MacBook and I’ll be happy. If the iPad had one killer feature, like perhaps facial recognition or camera-based gestures, it might make it more compelling, but for now it’s a little of this, a little of that and not enough of anything.