Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thoughts on the iPad

My friend Ishmeet and I had a spirited discussion on the iPad a few weeks ago. The linked article was sent my way by Ishmeet earlier today; reading it literally broke the dam holding back my thoughts; it is time I let my opinion join the steady stream of opinions and conjecture on the device. Bear in mind, this is based on an email response I wrote to him on my iPhone.
The author makes some good arguments - Apple is trying to define a new market segment, which is difficult; the $499 price point might be prohibitive for some; we are in the throes of a recession. But I think the rest of his arguments and scenarios fall flat. In particular, his logic on the whole "connectivity aspect and 3g" is specious. We live in an infinitely connected world - I can't go to a single place these days without my phone finding at least one open wireless access point. The need for 3g connectivity is so minimal and the available 3g network is so clogged (at least AT&T's), that watching movies would be more of a problem with 3g and shouldn't be a problem without the 3g device. Also, his point about content consumption vs creation is only partially valid. Content creation seems conceptually harder on the iPad than it would be on a traditional netbook, but that's what they said about typing on a touch only iPhone keyboard. We know how that claim has been debunked. To wit: it took me about 10 minutes to type this out on my iPhone and I chose to use this keyboard even though I am sitting in front of my laptop. The difference in typing time is insignificant enough to even be a factor. Regardless, there is a Bluetooth and tethered keyboard accessory available that should mitigate a lot of the content creation issues, if not all of them.

The issues that the author hasn't touched upon are the ones that concern me more - expandability, peripheral support, camera and screen. Software shortcomings are easier to overcome than hardware oversights. There is another tablet out there, developed by an Indian company, that is the clear choice when compared to the iPad. It remains to be seen whether the technical superiority of the Indian innovation will translate into real sales; my hope is that other hardware vendors will take cues from the Indian outfit and build a viable competitor to the iPad. This shouldn't be a 1 horse race, and Microsoft's answer isn't that far along in development to factor into this conversation.

To Apple's credit though, there is no doubting the brilliance of the iPad's software interface. Herein lies the true gem, and the real reason people other than loyalists will buy the device. Finally, there is a computing device that is larger than a phone that actually gets out of it's own way and let's a user do what they want. Granted that a user can only do a few things today, but the possibilities are limitless. For further proof of this, read the initial press coverage that the iPhone received. Apple got a lot of feedback from the early adopters, incorporated the feedback in subsequent releases, which further fed the frenzy around the iPhone. I think this is an appropriate moment to say, "the rest is history"...
My stake in the ground is that the v2 product will address a lot of the issues raised by the early reviewers and adopters. The v1 for my mom? Maybe!

1 comment:

  1. I never even considered buying an iPad when it came out and now I'm typing this on iPad v2 ;)