Wednesday, January 27, 2010

First Thoughts About the iPad

Immediate Reaction to the Announcement of the iPad:

1. Apple is taking on the mobile phone industry and Amazon at the same time. Wow.

2. The plug-in keyboard/charger is the future-now of mobile computing. Hands down.

3. They actually priced this right; and with no contract required.

4. I'm thinking about cancelling my cell phones and my home DSL, Craigslisting my various computer crap, and buying two of these on the 3G plan.

*add 3:41PM: But @deangroom just reminded me that you can't play WoW on this thing... guess I'll keep my home LAN for the time being and just ditch the phones ; )


More nuanced immediate reaction:

I think there's something that's largely going unsaid here.

In making iTunes cloud-based, this device really doesn't have to be 'owned' by anyone. What I mean is: this is just a device for connecting to your content (and record collection, and games, and magazines, and bookshelf) on the cloud. Which means that we could see these popping up in every hotel room and on the coffee tables of every office; we could see these things lying around for public use in the faculty room, in student centers, and in libraries.

I think what I'm suggesting is that this could sort of mash up what we think about when we think about personal computing.

Instead, could we be looking at the dawn of communal computing? Where the device is ubiquitous and shared -- sort of the Zip Car of computing. The real essence of what's going on is that the 'stuff' is out there on the cloud; all we really need is an easy to use device to access and play with our stuff.

We own our stuff; who cares who owns the device?

That said, I'm sort of envisioning one or two at home with one hooked up to an LCD projection to watch movies and whatnot. But I'm also imagining communal Pads lining bookshelves at school and a Pad or two sitting where the magazines used to be at the Jiffy Lube.

One place where I definitely see a future if this thing takes off (and it will) is in accessories. You're gonna need some way to carry that thing. Enter skinny bike messenger iPad bag.

I'll take two.


  1. Needs Lube, I think that's the only part you got right.

  2. I'm loving having all of my stuff cloud based (and backed up at both home and school). I can access everything from any internet connected device - my Palm smart phone, my Windows Laptop, netbook, or desktop, the Mac at one location I teach at, etc.

    I love the idea of hardware/OS doesn't mean anything anymore.

    Here is more of my ideas of cloud computing/OS -

    And my thoughts on the iPad -

  3. I am an iPhone owner, and I do adore it, but I get really frustrated with the lack of ability to use flash websites. A lot of websites work that into the programming.

    I really thought that flash useablity would be integrated into the OS for the iPad, so that disappoints me.

    What will interest me is how this fact unfolds as more people get iPhones and now the iPad. Will flash eventually work through their version of Safari, OR ... will websites cease to use flash so that owners of this tech can use their sites??

  4. I'm less impressed, though its slick and pretty (obviously). No multi-tasking, limited media tools. Expensive with 3G.

    But as a communal tool? You're right. It's the big step forward (but wait till Jobs lowers the price and ups the memory next Christmas).

    -Ira Socol

  5. Initial response...its not doing it for me...I love my iphone but don't see where this fits. I already have a great 11.6 inch netbook which runs everything has a great battery life etc and it cost significantly less. And my iphone and netbook access my kindle content when I do not have it with me...
    Maybe the next generation... but I am going to wait and see

  6. @Jenny

    From what I'm reading, that's sort of an HTML5 decision and a matter for Adobe to catch up. Sort of a game going on there.

    It'll all depend on whether this thing follows the iPod / iPhone route. I really think the big story is in the way iTunes is changing and the direct challenge of iBooks to Amazon.


    A subtext to this is how things play out with Amazon and B&N. Do you see this as a threat to them, or pressure to somehow come together and develop a post-Amazon model? (I see it more likely being pugnacious...)

    As for next Christmas, we'll see the camera added and memory scaled up, though it sort of depends on what purpose these things get put to. I'm actually not seeing these as a "big iPod Touch", but rather as a unique device that may help destroy the "but I prefer reading on paper" argument. I think the size is key. Would be fun to get these into the hands of elementary school kids; perfect size (hope they have a great kids' selection in iBooks).

    As for multi-tasking, that hasn't seemed to dissuade too many iPhone users. And it might be expensive, but I think the "no-contract" 3G model has the potential to completely shatter the presumptions of the telecom industry. Especially if this thing takes off.

    I really see this as sort of the first attempt by the company who made computing mobile to create something specifically made for that world. We'll see what happens.


  7. Don't dump those phones. The 3G is data only!

  8. I haven't been this disappointed since something. I'm sure I was really disappointed that time too. Apple created the perfect middle child. No sense of self, but not enough like either of its siblings to ride any coat tails.

    It's a junk gadget. No webcam. No multitasking. No flash. Doesn't lay flat to type on it. Not 4:3 and not 16:9.

    This is not the future of anything. I wouldn't mind the creator of the future of whatever to get some ideas from this thing, though.

    Here's the biggest problem: it will sell like bananas. Apple keeps putting out mediocre product and people keep buying it.

    Why didn't Apple put ______ in the iPad? Because they don't have to!

  9. Let me add:

    PLEASE don't buy these for students. Please don't buy these for schools.

    These are built for consumers of information, not producers.

    "Perfect to listen to someone else's music!"

    "Perfect to look at someone else's videos!"

    "Perfect to read someone else's books!"

    This is digitizing everything that is wrong about schools.

  10. @DrD

    This thing has got a microphone, a speaker, a headphone jack, and access to Skype, right? Why do I need to pay a phone bill?


    Yup, no webcam. That's a bummer, but probably that decision was made to keep the price down on the first generation -- bet you'll see a camera on the G2s that arrive, as Ira suggested, next December.

    As for Flash, I'm a bit out of my element here, but isn't the new web coding jumping over that business anyway? That doesn't help any of us now, but I think this is a bigger matter of brinksmanship going on between Apple and Adobe.

    As for consumption vs. production: this thing does get on the Internet, right? It's not like the existence of the iPhone Apps store has rendered out of existence the whole of Web 2.0. Their not gonna ban me from going to Google Apps, are they? They're not going to stop me from Tweeting or writing my blog, are they?

    I understand the frustration about audio and video production ware; but from a practical point-of-view, that was never the domain of computers that cost less than $2000 anyway. Garage Band is a silly program; so is iMovie. The MS equivalents are much worse. Nonetheless, we use what we've got; and rather than slam a device that really does change the book reading experience (which seems to be it's priority function) because it doesn't have an a/v suite included in its $625 package is just a bit much.

    I don't know whether this is all a good thing or a bad thing; and given what I've heard in the news so far today, I think it could go either way.

    One way or the other, I stand by my initial thought that this could portend a real shift in computing habits and with a little imagination could bring communal computing into more of the mainstream (even though that's not at all what I think Apple intends this device to be).

    Thanks for the argument; good stuff.


  11. i was hoping against hope that the announcement would be something that would help education get more to production. This still seems to be a consumption tool. I want a $500 apple with iLife so my students can create their world.

    I have not looked in to creating a podcast on the cloud so I do nto know if that would be possible, nor creating a video on the cloud (I briefly looked at animoto, but not enough control over clip duration and # of words on slides). Any slideshare website is blocked at school (it took a while to get animoto & diigo unblocked)

  12. @Paul S

    For audio on Mac or Linux, try < >. It crushes GarageBand like a grape.

    For video, I've been recommended < >, though I haven't used it (don't do much video myself).

    Both are open source and at least in the case of the former, offer alts to iLife that are way beyond compare.


  13. Hey Shelly,

    First of all, thanks for the open space to dialogue. It's comfortable here.

    I'll stand by my point that with little work they could have really made this thing perfect for schools. Tammy Brass made a list that I agree with in a blog post today:

    It's not shortsightedness that I'm displaying -- and I know you didn't say it was. It's more of a warning. If you have $500 to burn, feel free, but realize that you are a beta tester. That hasn't been talked about enough in the 24 hours since the announcement. This is Apple's MO. I know. I have a $400 first-gen iPhone in my pocket. It only took Apple two more generations of the iPhone to come out with what should have been the first product. I'm typing this on a 1,1 MacBook. Within months of buying this MacBook they threw the dual core processor's in that should have been there in the first place.

    When iPad 2.0 comes out with it's video camera and multitasking, I'll have my tongue wagging to grab one. Until then I will be staying far, far away. I've learned my lesson with Apple's first-generation products.

  14. It may be a while before Apple provides Flash on the iPhone/iPad primarily because that provides a way to program for it that doesn't go through the App Store. If you don't have to learn a new language/platform, you won't. So to encourage programming in Objective C and Cocoa, Apple will resist Flash until it absolutely must add it.

    HTML 5 is being heavily evangelized by Google because it will give you flash-like power (recording video/audio/graphics) without Flash installed, but that's at the mercy of Apple implementing all the elements on the Safari browser for iPhone. It's also still being standardized and will probably be a pain/not what people want due to licensing fees associated with mp3.


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