Yesterday, I posted an in-depth look at Apple’s latest creation - the iPad - over at Mac.AppStorm. That article has since been commented on by almost one hundred people, with a surprisingly large majority voicing criticism over the device.
I wanted to voice my own opinion and write a response to some of the criticism hurtling around the web at the moment. First of all, my response is completely opinionated. If you disagree with me completely that’s fine!
Secondly, I’d like to make it clear that I don’t think the iPad is perfect. No piece of technology ever reaches that lofty goal. I do, however, think that it comes very close to providing something that successfully sits in the middle ground between an iPhone and a MacBook.
Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying the following:
It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” (Business Week, May 25, 1998)
Had Apple created a tablet based purely on what consumers (and gadget enthusiasts in particular) were demanding, it would have resulted in an all-singing, all-dancing mess of a product. Not unlike that depicted by Jason Calacanis’ spoof tweets about his feature-packed vision of the iPad.
Just like with the initial launch of the iPhone, people don’t feel that the iPad offers all the features it should. The fact is, neither did the first version of the iPhone (it didn’t even have third party apps!). The iPad will mature over time, and I’m sure many of the criticisms will be solved with future software updates and hardware releases.
It doesn’t have Flash.
I would have been thoroughly disappointed if Apple had caved in and supported Flash on the iPad. John Gruber wrote an excellent piece on this a few days ago, but it boils down to one thing. Flash isn’t an open standard, and doesn’t have any future on the web. It takes a company such as Apple to make a long-term stand against it, choosing to instead support open formats (HTML5 and H.264), for publishers to stop using it.
We’re already seeing a response to this, with sites such as Vimeo and YouTube recently launching HTML5 versions of their video players.
Apple are completely, utterly in the right not to support Flash. Consumers will thank them for it in two years time.
You can’t run multiple apps.
This is a personal problem, and depends upon how you actually use such a device. For me it isn’t a big deal. Although the screen real estate is big, it isn’t large enough to support true multi-tasking - you couldn’t comfortably watch a video while checking your email.
It’s also a speed issue. Those who have used the device have reported how incredibly fast it is at launching and switching applications. This means two things: (1) if you could run multiple apps, things would slow down, and (2) when you can switch between apps so quickly, there’s no need to have them running in the background.
When they’ve created a beautiful interface to allow switching between apps, I have no doubt Apple will release this functionality. Until then, reserve judgement until you’ve actually used one of the iPads - I don’t think the lack of this background applications will put you off.
It’s too expensive.
That’s a non-argument. The iPad is the same price as the 10GB version of the original iPod. It’s comparable with most netbooks, and is in a completely different league from a design and usability viewpoint.
iBooks are only available in the US.
This is undoubtedly a temporary situation, and I’m sure Apple is working hard to put international licenses in place. I’d expect this hasn’t happened to date because they have wanted to minimise the chance of information about the iPad leaking out.
If international deals are not in place with publishers by the time the device launches, I’m sure they will be within a few months.
It doesn’t have a stylus.
It’s become increasingly clear with recent product releases that Apple are steering clear of any moving parts at all - let alone a completely seperate stylus. This isn’t meant to be an accurate graphics tablet, and isn’t pitched as one.
For the tasks it’s designed to be good at, a stylus isn’t necessary. If you’re looking do do something that does require a stylus, you probably don’t fall into the target market for the product.
I have a MacBook and an iPhone, so I don’t need one.
That’s probably true. Apple is starting to grow a fairly impressive product line-up, and I’m sure they don’t expect every customer to own every device in that line-up. It’s aimed at people who are already in the market for a netbook or an eBook reader. If you weren’t planning on purchasing either of these in the near future, then I’m not surprised that the iPad doesn’t particularly appeal.
That said, if you already own a MacBook and an iPhone, there’s a good chance there’s a little Apple geek inside you. If this is the case - after you’ve held and played with an iPad - despite the fact you don’t need one, I bet at least half of you would struggle to resist picking one up for $499.
It doesn’t have a camera
Apple needs something to persuade you to upgrade to the second generation iPad in 2011. This will be a camera, and I’m sure a perfectly acceptable prototype is sitting in their research lab in Cupertino. It’s the way technology companies work, and - if a camera is so important to you - wait a year and buy the second release next year.
I’ll be pre-ordering mine at the first opportunity, not because I need one, but because the Apple geek inside me wants one. The iPad isn’t going to reach the same sales figures as the iPhone, but it’s going to be a remarkably successful product line for Apple.