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…
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.