Some thoughts on the iPad…

Or the night after the Apple tablet…

I thought my view of what was coming that I posted last night was pretty darn close, if I do say so myself. With great amusement I’ve been watching the usual suspects say the usual things; the people who live inside the geekdom echo chamber forgetting there’s a real world out there, and Apple tends to build products for the real world, not the self-appointed geek universe.

A few themes within the critics caught my eye, all of them (I think) incorrect. One are the people who really want the tablet to be a replacement for a laptop, and because this isn’t that, it sucks.

This device is a new category, aimed not at the people who spend their life madly typing in their blog while watching a video AND listening to Pandora and madly checking ot see whether their deathless prose is being appropriately retweeted by their adoring followers. It’s aimed at people who — believe it or not — actually want to sit down on the couch or in their hotel room after a long day at work and…

gasp.

RELAX. They want to read their email. They want to browse a few web sites, check the scores of their hockey team, maybe read a book, maybe watch a movie. Take it easy and — do what people did 20 years ago before the velocity of life ratcheted up to the point where some people think that if you aren’t doing 30 things at once you’re lazy.

Well, hint: in the real world, where most people actually live, people do still sit down in the evening, unplug, and read a book or watch a movie. And actually feel guilty doing both at once. There’s a whole bunch of folks within the geekdom echo chamber who’d be a whole lot happier and less stressed if they figured this out, too. But they’re too busy blogging while watching a movie they’ll only half remember a month from now.

This is a device not for geeks, but for consumers. It’s for people who use devices, not hack them. It’s for people who consume content, which is actually most people, as opposed to geeks who want it to be something it wasn’t designed to be. So lots of geeks are disappointed and blogging about it, while I expect this thing will sell many, many copies, mostly to people who won’t blog about it, but merely use it.

Another theme I’m seeing tonight is the lack of flash on the device. No surprise. If you really want to know why, think back a few years when Apple was trying to get back on its feet, and Adobe made a decision not to support its video products on the Mac, and instead tried to convince its mac customers to switch to PCs. Apple’s response then was ultimately to bring out its own video products — final cut — and ultimately ate the market out from Adobe. Later, when Apple was making the conversion to the intel platform, Adobe’s enthusiasm for bringing out Photoshop and its flagship products was most noticable — by how late they were and how uninterested Adobe seemed in actually trying to help Apple succeed. So now, when Apple has these really successful platforms and Adobes wants a piece of them, and yet Apple shows no real enthusiasm or hurry to cooperate? Well, folks, payback’s a bitch, and if you only see your partners for what they can do for you today, well, don’t whine when they choose to return the favor when the shoe is on the other foot. Burn your bridges with thought, folks, because you never know when you might want them back. And they’ll remember.  Apple sure does. And wouldn’t it be great irony if Apple uses its platforms to turn Flash from a success to an also-ran by supporting HTML5 on platforms that are in enough demand that people who currently are building flash-based things end up recoding those things away from flash to support the platforms people are demanding? Just like — oh, say — Youtube just did? Hmm.

A final theme I’m seeing is the geeks defining products as successful or failure. The Apple TV is being tossed about as a failure, even though, every time I look at estimates on unit sales, it’s still outselling Tivo and has been almost since launch. Yet it failed, Tivo is what the geeks keep saying the Apple TV ought to be. Hmm. Apple could use a few more failures like that. Especially given that I agree with most of the geeks that much of the potential of the Apple TV line of products is still ahead of it. Maybe the Apple geniuses were busy on some other product line. Like, oh, maybe a tablet…

Finally is a recurring theme with some that Apple didn’t “blow them away” (and therefore, I guess, this sucks). Folks, you all need to reset your internal adrenalin meter back from 11. Some of you would take anything less than being personally tasered by Steve himself as “boring”. One word: decaf. Not all products and not all announcements have to be over the top. There merely have to be damn good products.

This one is. To me, it’s a perfect device for my mom, who lives and dies by email, yahoo, access to recipes on Food TV, wants her audiobooks and to read Stephen King and Jean Auel novels and watch the occasional movie (and Emeril). THERE is your target audience.

Me? I like the idea of having one. It won’t replace my carrying my laptop on the road, but it’ll give me something I can use while my laptop is processing photos in Lightroom or crunching away at some compile for a program I’m writing. I doubt I’d write a novel on an iPad, but I’d sure write a blog entry and catch up on email. It supplements why I need a laptop wonderfully, and means I won’t need to worry so much about bad cable TV in a hotel room or hauling books around when I travel. It’s a nice supplemental device for my life. For a traveller who’s content creation issues aren’t so — intense — this very well could replace carrying a laptop. If your job is about writing email, memos and presentations instead of Ruby, HTML and Photoshop, you’re probably already ragging your boss to get approval to get one. Or should.

Nope. This isn’t a sexy repackaging of a laptop. It isn’t a tablet-PC. it isn’t a “netbook done right”. It’s an entirely new type of device, and I think it’s going to be rather successful. now, two or three generations down, it well COULD become those things; I could see down the road these things having the potential to make Mac OS X obsolete and running whatever Lightroom becomes and doing the heavy hitting, but right now — it is what it is, and what it is is very good if that’s what you need.

I think it blows away the Kindle, and I wouldn’t be suprised if Amazon doesn’t quietly breathe a sigh of relief that this lets them get away from building devices and go back to what it’s really good at, which is distribution. And I think it effectively kills “unitaskers” like the Epson P-4000 and digital wallets. Why buy that when you can buy an iTab that does it ALSO? Maybe not for the high end user, but for most of the market, definitely.

All in all, I’m impressed. and looking forward to getting my hands on one. One thing I’m going to be curious to see is whether this thing is going to be allowed to take on the Mifi. If I could use it to wire up a wireless network to 3G in a hotel room (even if I can’t use the iTab for other things!) to handle the work to the office, that’s gravy. Then unplug the laptop for the night and use this beast for recreation (and to prepare tomorrow’s presentation for the sales meeting!)…

All you folks dissing the device, I think you’re looking at it wrong. Here’s a hint: Steve’s not stupid, and knows what real people want. And isn’t afraid to offer it. And this is, I think, it.

This entry was posted in Computers and Technology.
  • gringo_2

    when i watch the videos on apples site i see a lot of geeks talking (walter murch, coen brothers etc.)
    geeks are not welcome anymore? the geeks who pay premium for hardware knowing it will cost half in 12 months?
    ipad could have been a must have in the movie industry (watching dailies including navigation, wifi controlling of devices (like the Jazzmaster), syncing with digital cameras and writing metadata protocols, wireless watchmen, slates, Timecode in, makeup artists taking photos from actors and share them with all heads ) these are examples out of my head.

    What about the Mac “Pro” Line…there i have the feeling that the geeks are not welcomed anymore, too.
    What about Nvidia Drivers for the SDI daughterboard, what about simple esata connectors.
    What about more PCI Slots and internal storage slots, what about SSD bootdrives

    back to IPad
    Man we are not talking about replacing a laptop, we geeks talk about adding lil things to the ipad to make a great consumer product a must have Pro Tool.

    so you can add videos from famous geeks talking about your products to the apple page.

  • gringo_2

    when i watch the videos on apples site i see a lot of geeks talking (walter murch, coen brothers etc.)
    geeks are not welcome anymore? the geeks who pay premium for hardware knowing it will cost half in 12 months?
    ipad could have been a must have in the movie industry (watching dailies including navigation, wifi controlling of devices (like the Jazzmaster), syncing with digital cameras and writing metadata protocols, wireless watchmen, slates, Timecode in, makeup artists making photos) these are examples out of my head.

    What about the Mac “Pro” Line…there i have the feeling that the geeks are not welcomed anymore, too.
    What about Nvidia Drivers for the SDI daughterboard, what about simple esata connectors.
    What about more PCI Slots and internal storage slots, what about SSD bootdrives

    back to IPad
    Man we are not talking about replacing a laptop, we geeks talk about adding lil things to the ipad to make a great consumer product a must have Pro Tool.

    so you can add videos from famous geeks talking about your products to the apple page.

  • gringo_2

    when i watch the videos on apples site i see a lot of geeks talking (walter murch, coen brothers etc.)
    geeks are not welcome anymore? the geeks who pay premium for hardware knowing it will cost half in 12 months?
    ipad could have been a must have in the movie industry (watching dailies including navigation, wifi controlling of devices (like the Jazzmaster), syncing with digital cameras and writing metadata protocols, wireless watchmen, slates, Timecode in, makeup artists taking photos from actors and share them with all heads ) these are examples out of my head.

    What about the Mac “Pro” Line…there i have the feeling that the geeks are not welcomed anymore, too.
    What about Nvidia Drivers for the SDI daughterboard, what about simple esata connectors.
    What about more PCI Slots and internal storage slots, what about SSD bootdrives

    back to IPad
    Man we are not talking about replacing a laptop, we geeks talk about adding lil things to the ipad to make a great consumer product a must have Pro Tool.

    so you can add videos from famous geeks talking about your products to the apple page.

  • jimb

    Sure, its a great piece of tech, but really, who do think stands to benefit the most from Apples' closed ecosystem vision for the web? Consumers? Hardly. I'm a long time Apple fan, but I'm not drinking this batch of KoolAid.

    • http://www.chuqui.com chuqui

      frankly, for almsot everyone, the “closed ecosystem” is a non-issue. Including me. If it bothers you, don't buy it, but the people that's going to influence is going to be a small number compared to the number who find the thing useful and don't care about things like that.

  • DP

    For me, the price tag just does not match the features. To be fair, it's relatively cheap for an Apple product. It's just that sitting at $499(for a whopping 16 gigs of storage) puts it in competition with netbooks and mid to low-end notebooks. For the budget minded who aren't necessarily geeks, but want the most out of the purchases; it just doesn't make sense to buy a device with limited functionality. For those who do have the luxury, the ipad would make a good addition to their network of products. For those who don't but still like the idea, there are bound to be a handful “iPad-killers” released soon enough that actually provide the features that the “Geek” community would have Apple implement.

    The iPad steps between portable players and portable computers, but perhaps in a generation or two it can reach it's full potential as an iProduct, hopefully without a drastic increase in price. As it stands, the iPad just isn't a smart buy in any way(Some would argue that anything built by Apple is unless purchased a few generations later). There's no doubt in my mind that it will succeed as the general population only really see the surface level of what technology has to offer and Apple has such a tight grip on a significant share of the market. it's just saddening to think about how many people will buy this bloated iPod Touch instead of an “all-purpose” notebook/netbook. Though I would have to agree with you that it's bound to be a simple alternative for lite users that don't need or want all of the bells and whistles.

    What excites me most about the iPad? People might start losing the need for an iPod Touch and sell them to me

  • Damned Thing

    I think you're right, the pricing so close to the Kindle DX is significant. Seriously, can you see anyone looking at any eReader and not, at the very least, consider an iPad? An eReader is something I've been considering for a while, but the Kindle always struck me as dated looking – like something from the 80s – so it lacked appeal. I haven't had an iPod since my original spec 40Gb jammed up just after it's warranty ran out – I bought a Philips MP3 player instead which never caused me any trouble. Never bought an iTouch or iPhone either, they just don't appeal to me – I detest mobile phones. So, for me the eReader is a big selling point and I think that's the market it's initially aimed at. That it comes with all the other bits and bobs at an attractive price point compared to other eReaders is a bonus. I don't think it'll be a massive seller initially, more a grower that'll steadily gain traction the more users can see what can be done with it. Remember, developers haven't had a lot of time to play with it, so give it a year before writing it off.

  • Pingback: Apple iPad: what it doesn’t have - Home Improvement

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1161745161 facebook-1161745161

    Am I hearing you right, Chuq? Are you really sitting there, with your bare face hanging out, and telling me that the reason iPhones/iPod Touches/iPads don't support Flash content basically amounts to a pissing match between Apple and Adobe? That it's pretty much both companies arguing over who's got the bigger penis? “Oh, we have really successful video software, we have a big penis!” “Oh, we have a successful smartphone product, we have a big penis!”

    I'd like to tell both companies to GROW UP right now. To support the entire Web, the iProducts need to support Flash. That's true, whether Apple wants it to be or not. (Yes, HTML5, live streaming built in, land of rainbows and unicorns. That doesn't make a helluva lot of difference to Aunt Tillie who can't play FarmVille on her iPad or iPhone today.) They need to get off their butts, resolve their petty differences, and get Flash working. And, if I were leading that meeting where I told them this, I would end it by saying, “I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. Make this happen.”

    • http://www.chuqui.com chuqui

      “Am I hearing you right, Chuq? Are you really sitting there, with your bare face hanging out, and telling me that the reason iPhones/iPod Touches/iPads don't support Flash content basically amounts to a pissing match between Apple and Adobe?”

      It's not that simple, nothing in real life ever is. But when someone you ask for help shines you on and doesn't pitch in, they shouldn't be surprised when things change and they come back to you and you don't fall over yourself looking for ways to help out in return…

  • mikebaird

    Chuqui, I always highly value your opinions on tech matters. I think you have nailed exactly here the iPad's positioning and value. I especially liked your before and after the announcement method.

  • Jorge

    I don't want one, but you did mention a good point, my mom, I think I could buy one for her, she is email only, and that is it, may be with this she also surf the web, listen music and watch some videos.

  • Matthias Dehmel

    What leaves me unsatisfied is your explanation about the missing feature? You support this decision by Apple because they have the right and good reasons to do that? What about their customers? I fully understand the negative feelings for Adobe, but are they worth killing a (in my opinion) important feature? I understand that the iPhone has no Flash support (and it would be no good on the small display), but if I want to sit down after work and watch some interactive fancy stuff (besides dozens of video portals), I cannot understand why an basic element of the modern web just is not supported.

    Best wishes
    Matthias

    • http://www.chuqui.com chuqui

      define “missing”. lack of flash hasn't exactly stifled the popularity of the iPhone.

      • Matthias

        Well as I said the iPhone is another thing, it's a mobile right? So basically, I can use it when I am not at home, and try to find some information I need from the internet. Some websites will be hard to navigate, even with all that great scrolling and zooming, it is a small display after all.
        But the iPad should replace the normal computer at home, and it's display is due the size capable of showing the web like it would be on a normal computer – except there is no flash. THERE is my problem I think, because the iPad SHOULD be capable of showing the web how it is, but lacks an important technology that has driven the web to it's current state.

        Best wishes,
        Matthias

  • PDAGuy

    I have to believe eventually (IMO iPhone 4) Apple will add Flash support to the iPhone/iPad. Even if they sell a lot of the iPad and continue to sell their laptop lines well, they are still a minority presence on the web and you can't go to very many websites now that don't have flash content. As Adobe adds mobile flash support to more competitors, customer demand will only increase and its a matter of time where market saavy will win over “payback” mentality (if that's indeed a factor here).

  • Bill

    But your mom is still gonna need a laptop to get her ipad to work. Is she gonna shell out a bunch more dough for basically extracting her favorite functions from her laptop?

    • http://www.chuqui.com chuqui

      but that could be MY laptop. with occasional dockings for updates. She wouldn't need her own laptop as well at that point.

      • http://www.theangrydrunk.com The Angry Drunk

        Hell, I know several people with iPhones who have never synced them with a computer. Don't ask me how, it confuses the hell out of me, but there it is.

  • http://www.snee.com/bobdc.blog Bob DuCharme

    So you're saying that typical non-geek users wouldn't want to listen to music while they read a book? Especially if they're sitting on a train or an airplane with this device that's designed to be so portable?

    • http://www.chuqui.com chuqui

      no, but it's also not (a) the end of the world, or (b) a deal breaker.

    • patricko

      They will be able to listen to the music stored on the iPad while they read a book, just as you can on the iPhone.

      • http://www.chuqui.com chuqui

        you're correct, and i realized that while driving to work this morning as I was listening to music on the ipod and switched to another app to check something. And of course the music kept on. That's supported today on iphones, no reason to presume it isn't the same on the tablet, so this is a non-issue.

  • Pingback: Apple iPad: was es NICHT kann | Studio B12 Blog

  • xxxxxxx

    How come you're using iTab to describe the product?
    Did they secretly switch names overnight? :)

  • Bo

    Greatly put, I agree with nearly everything.

  • m4mac

    I remember the late 80's when Apple and Microsoft ganged up on Adobe and created Truetype fonts.

    Good article.

  • Ivan de la Jara

    no, its not that. I was sold like an incredible product, you can see his words before show that iSHIT… but yes, its only for stupid people with a lot of money like all other Apple products.

    • Tom

      You see, Ivan, when you end your comments like that you make it look like you're biased.

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidgjones David Jones

    Nice post, but I think the people who really lose out from the Apple/Adobe spat are consumers, not Adobe.