iPad? hmmm….. PT 2!

Last August I wrote expecting/predicting the arrival of the iPad from Apple. After watching the unveiling I was pretty spot on about a surprising amount. I’m not going to go over the specs and such just give my impressions and gloat about what I was right about.

Bigger iPod/iPhone?: Well yes and no. It is essentially a big iPod touch and has the ability to supposedly run “almost every” app from the app store but that was a given. What is interesting is the expanded apps for the iPad look closer to the same programs running on Mac OSx. It will be interesting how much of a “hybrid” OS this really is. Again it won’t be Apple primarily pushing the envelope of this operating system and time will tell if it’s the best of all worlds or not. Already from what I saw I liked the tweaks offered to email and calendars. The best on calendars is that in landscape mode “day view” really has an old school dayplanner look to it. A little disappointing on the internet side of things is that it appears that flash isn’t supported. Also unclear is whether multiple apps will be able to be run at the same time. My guess is that they probably won’t at shipping but once they put that ability in the iPhone it will be upgraded.

iBooks: Yeah Apple has set its sights directly at Amazon and unveiled its own reader and bookstore. It remains to be seen how much Amazon and Barnes and Noble will support this app with their own apps. There is a Kindle app for the iPhone already that presumably should work on the iPad but it’s definitely a no frills reader. Though one idea/prediction I had absolutely made it to the iBook reader, turning a page LOOKS and is the same action as turning a real page. (it’ll be interesting to see if there will be customizable gestures or commands for those that don’t want to swipe) It’ll take side by side comparisons to tell whether this reader is a step up or not. Also content and price wise the iBook iTunes store will be a “wait and see” to see what content Apple has to offer and its strategy for that store. I’m guessing the iBooks will be more expensive and have more content they’ll also probably publish earlier than Kindle books. How Apple will manage an eBook reader with other readers available on its device will be interesting to watch. (For example there isn’t another mp3 player for the phone)

iWorks: As I predicted Apple has learned from the initial launch of the iPhone. Included in the presentation was specific to address the business community with spreadsheet, word processing, and slideshow applications. Of course how these apps actually work and how well they work with email and other programs are still a question. (i.e. will you be able to open an attached Excel or Word file edit it and email it back?) But again Apple is at least aware of the business sector and time will tell how app developers will utilize the greater computing power and multi-touch screen.

Yes Virginia there is an external keyboard: Finally bowing to the way most people write with a computer Apple will have a dock/keyboard available for the iPad. (just a side note: since the dock will have the same connector as the iPhone will it be compatible?) Also the iPad will be able to use a keyboard via Bluetooth. This is where third party developers and accessories will begin to play a role, I can easily see a case/keyboard combination that will truly blur the line between the iPad and a laptop. (imagine simply being able to slide out or detach your laptop screen)

Pricing: Again I got it right last August when I predicted that the price would be between $500-$700 dollars. I just didn’t expect that they actually would have six devices ranging from $500-$850. Again perhaps Apple has listened to those that love Apple who have railed against 50% price reductions after six months. What they have done is present people with choices and allowed the consumer to determine what they are looking for in a device. In this you really have to appreciate Apple’s sales strategy for selling to people. They now have devices from the iPod touch starting at $200 up to the MacBook that incrementally offer varying options and abilities. This allows the customer to evaluate their needs/wants and begin at the outset to craft a device with their personal intent in mind. Oh and I expect this pricing and device configuration to last at least for a year.

The “data plan” heard round the world: Perhaps the biggest shock of the iPad announcement was that AT&T would offer 3g coverage and it would be WITHOUT A CONTRACT! Consider that folks. Apple is selling unlocked iPads for the same price (less even) as unlocked iPhones. Also that YOU the customer would decide on which data plan you want and it would be pay-as-you-go. Apple must have gotten out the thumb screws on AT&T to get this deal and it’s unprecedented. This is the first time a major wireless company has changed the way business has been done since forever in America and it was done by a hardware provider responding to customer angst.

Wrap up: Ok let’s face it this device has been dreamt about for over a decade. On the one hand no device could possibly live up to the starry eyed imaginations of Star Trek geeks. On the other hand if the reveal seemed a little underwhelming I suspect that this device like the iPhone has a lot more capability than was shown today. Consider this, I bought my iPhone 3g two years ago and I’ve yet to see the limit of what that device can do. (battery life not withstanding) The Trojan horse in this consideration is multi-touch. The iPhone changed the way people use mobile devices because of the intuitiveness of multi-touch. It changed the way people surfed the web. Now expand that capability to almost ten inches. Now put that in place of sitting at a home computer or laptop. Add in peripherals and you have an exceptionally malleable device that can mold itself to many different users. While personally I think there are real questions that need to be answered from a productivity/work aspect as to whether or not this will stand in for a traditional laptop consider this: my Dad has been thinking about getting my Mom a MacBook and now is really reconsidering/looking at the iPad. My Mom uses her current laptop mostly for email, Facebook, and web surfing and is frustrated to no end when it doesn’t “just work”. THAT’S the market that Apple is aiming at. My biggest question will be weather an iPad will be able to REPLACE a desktop or lapktop especially if it can manage other Apple devices. It would be excellent for the iPad to synch with an iPhone, or iPod independent of an iTunes enabled computer. Especially if you could pair a 200+ gb iPod classic and use the Classic as a mobile hard drive. A lot with the iPad comes down to getting it into people hands and seeing what they do with it. All I can say is I want to get my hands on one.


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