dcsimg

Love it or Hate it, Here Comes the iPad

Is it just an iPod on steroids or does the iPad from Apple represent the future of mobile computing? Perhaps a bit of both.

Looks like an iPod

After much anticipation Apple recently announced their latest device, the iPad.

To be fair to Apple, the bar was really pretty high in terms of both customer and market expectations. And as the bountiful commentary on the ‘net this week has demonstrated, you certainly cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Apple claims to be the largest “mobile devices” company in the world — not by units shipped, but by revenue. In this number they are including their MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops, iPods of all flavors and of course the iPhone.

It really isn’t a bad place to be, particularly considering the fact that selling gear is not Apple’s only revenue stream — they also sell software and consumer content via iTunes, the AppStore and soon, e-books. Apple may be stretching the definition of “mobile” in their accounting, but who isn’t these days?

So where does the iPad fit into this line-up of the “world’s largest mobile device company”? Steve Jobs claims the iPad fills the gap between Apple’s MacBook line and the iPhone/iPod Touch devices. Let’s take a closer look at this device.

Walks like an iPod

Apparently the saying about the “Apple not falling far from the tree” holds true in this case. The iPad looks like an iPod that reported to Spring Training all bulked-up. Hopefully Apple didn’t get caught up with the folks with BALCO or there may be congressional hearings about steroid use in their future as the iPad looks like an unnaturally large iPod.

All kidding aside, who can blame Apple for starting with a very popular design and looking to make improvements — no one can deny the market success the iPhone and iPod touch have enjoyed.

If you don’t like the iPhone or iPod touch, chances are that you won’t be too excited about this device either as it carries many of the undesirable iPhone family traits:

  • Single tasking model — all of that horsepower is still doing just one thing at a time.
  • Storage — there is no USB slot for external flash drives, nor can you store content on an SD card slot. This means that the iPad user is limited to the storage capacity decision made on the day of purchase — no upgrade option short of buying another unit. While your kid might enjoy the hand-me-down device, your wallet won’t appreciate it. The iPad is slated to be available in 16, 32, and 64GB models. Considering the nature of the content being promoted for it including music, movies and books, users may find themselves running out of space before long.
  • Synching — iPad users need a PC or Mac with iTunes in order to synch the device. Considering the relatively small storage capacity options for the iPad, iTunes is still a very important part of the iPad/iPod ecosystem.
  • No Flash Support — Apple continues to exclude Adobe Flash because they claim that virtually the only reason a Mac might crash is because of Flash. No kidding — here’s the link. Sounds like an excuse to me. During the keynote address, I did get a bit bored watching Steve Jobs browse the New York Times repeatedly. The one gem in the presentation was the page where the “Flash plugin” was not available for Mobile Safari.
  • Power — The iPad’s battery cannot be removed. While this design decision allows for a sleeker device (just .5″ in thickness), who wants the hassle of explaining to someone at the Genius Bar that your battery no longer holds a charge? Hopefully for Apple and their customers they get this formula correct as it appears as though all Apple mobile products have taken this non-field replaceable battery design approach as even the latest MacBook’s have “built-in” batteries.

If that list weren’t enough to get under your skin, you would think that a built-in camera would be a no-brainer for the iPad. One can only guess that Apple ran out of time and will add it to a subsequent release of the device?

One area where I think the iPhone has an advantage over the iPad is that if you lose your iPad you cannot “call it” to find it by the sound of your ringer. At $500 and up, you don’t want to lose your iPad in the sofa cushions or the stack of junk-mail. And don’t use it while eating corn chips unless you have some glass-cleaner handy.

So how is the iPad going to help take Apple to the next level in terms of market-share and revenue growth?

Convergence and Content

The iPad is virtually everything that the iPod is — but larger. In the world of mobile devices, size does matter.

The iPad’s display is nearly the size of a sheet of paper — that means much more real-estate is available for doing the everyday things you want to do including the staples of browsing the web, email and running applications. According to Apple, all of the native/core applications were re-written to take advantage of the iPad’s form factor. With many business apps moving to the cloud could this be the converged device we’re looking for?

The iPad will have a “keyboard dock” accessory. Imagine using your device (iPad?) on the ride to work, plugging it into the dock and then having a keyboard and mouse touch screen with say a Remote Desktop client and/or a couple of terminal windows. And an external monitor. Oh wait, that’s right, the iPad doesn’t have any video output capability. An HDMI connection would be perfect here. Hey Steve, what do you think? You might sell more of those very expensive Apple displays…

While the iPad’s large display looks to make the web-browsing experience superior to browsing the web on the iPhone it may not cut it for all-day business use. However, it does look to fair pretty well in the personal entertainment computing market.

During Apple’s introductory presentation of the iPad, software publishers gameloft and Electronic Arts, among others, shared some of the work they have been doing with an early look at the iPad SDK. The iPad’s larger screen dimensions and multi-touch display make a number of new user experience interactions possible. One example was gameloft demonstrating a sequence in one of their titles where the user “turned” the lock to a door with a three-finger gesture. Gaming with a 1.5 pound device may even prove to be good exercise, who knows.

Apple is clearly in the content business as the iPad looks to compete with the likes of Kindle and the Nook as an ebook reader. The iPad provides an “adequate” display for reading and the iBookStore app allows users to browse, sample, purchase and download books in EPUB format.

While Amazon is more diversified than Barnes and Noble, both vendors may feel some market-share squeeze when the iPad users start purchasing ebooks. It is unlikely that the iPad will be a better reader than either the Kindle or the Nook, but for those looking to purchase a single device, the iPad makes a compelling case compared to carrying a number of single-function devices.

Speaking of applications, it appears as though the iPad can run all of the iPhone applications from the AppStore from day one, allowing existing purchases to be “synched” to the device. While we can debate the merits of the iPad versus Netbooks, the availability of so much content is a strong point for Apple.

Add music and movies to e-books and applications and Apple is now securely established as a content provider, driving demand for their products while making money on each distribution of content.

Are laptops dead? No, of course not. Are Netbooks a better idea? For some, yes. But we should not be caught flat-footed as the “tablet” hits the market along with ready-made content. Don’t expect other major players like Dell, Intel (Atom Processor), Google (Android), and others to ignore this market segment. The face of mobile computing continues to change and accelerate as we find this technology creeping into more and more areas of our life.

Look for more titles in the education realm as the screen is now large enough for small-person fingers and a ten hour battery life means it could be used during the school day or for long over-the-road trips.

Who knows, maybe the President will convert a pair of them into iPrompters before 2012′s campaign season hits full steam.

Comments on "Love it or Hate it, Here Comes the iPad"

ctwise

No Flash support. This is Steve\’s private little war against Flash. As an open source magazine, this is one of the few things you should support Steve on. Flash is a proprietary technology that uses too much CPU, crashes too often, serves as a vector for security problems and doesn\’t scale well for small device screens. You should be pushing for HTML5 to replace Flash even more then Steve is.

BTW, the iPad _does_ do video out. You need an adapter for that, but it will output to a projector or secondary screen.

Reply
gmeader3

It would be great to have a touch-oriented UI framework like Apple\’s UIkit (part of the iPhone SDK) for Linux. Android is one possibility, but it\’s Java-based and not completely open-source. I\’d rather use C++ or Python on a kernel I have source code for.

Then mobile Linux apps could be as cool as iPhone/iPad apps.

In the end, I\’d like to have a Linux distro with an excellent touch UI (as good as Apple iPad) that I could install on the hardware of my choice (Chinese iPad tablet clone).

Reply
severian37

I think it is a stretch to call it the future of mobile computing. It\’s a media playback device first and foremost, then after all is said and done, a toy. These devices have their own niche in the mobile computing world, but they won\’t replace laptops/netbooks any time soon.

Reply
neondiet

So the iPad can\’t multitask (not strictly true, you just need to be an internal Apple app to have access to some of that functionality) and doesn\’t have extendible storage (early SDK investigators are uncovering hooks to access mounted network drives) and doesn\’t have flash support (flash blows chunks on OS X, it\’s so CPU intensive it slashes the battery life on my MBP to half of what it should be) and doesn\’t have removable power. So what. 10 hours of in-use time is longer than most people\’s working day and is more than enough to do a bucket load of work (or browsing) before searching for the nearest power outlet. That won\’t be a problem. And I\’m sure someone will bring out a cheap portable battery to plug in and boost longevity if needed (I have one for my iPhone and it works great).

Maybe what you need to do is show Apple how to do it right. Design your own tablet with the same form factor, the same multi-touch sensitivity, at the same weight, with the same graphics and cpu processing power, with the same network connectivity. Give it extendible storage and removable batteries and a camera. Use Android and give it true multitasking, and put flash on it.

Let\’s see if you can match Apple\’s price point and still make a profit. And lets see what your battery life is like, or whether your users curse you for selling them a device that goes dead before lunch time. I\’ll bet you can\’t, and I\’ll bet that no one else can right now either: not with today\’s technology.

Reply
jnuyens

It\’s sad that an article like this in a \’linux magazine\’ doesn\’t even mention the closed nature of this beast. It gives maximum control to Apple, but very few to the end user who is locked in with what Apple likes or doesn\’t like.

Freedom to the end users, is a very important thing of what makes Linux, linux!

Reply
alizard

What Apple has accomplished with the iPad is to \”legitimize\” the tablet form factor in the minds of the public and the media, or at any rate, they\’ll have done so as soon as their ad campaign has had a few weeks to run.

Other than that, there\’s less here than meets the eye. How\’d they manage the form factor in 1.5 pounds? Imagine yourself repackaging a netbook into a tablet form factor. Lose the keyboard, remove the electronics, put in a smaller battery, use a smaller CPU to keep power consumption and heat dissipation down, turn the folding case into a single piece case, add an IR touchscreen.

Sounds a lot less miraculous, doesn\’t it?

What they\’ve done is open the door for competitors running Wintel tablets with Linux or Windows OSs and selling them at far lower prices. We know this for sure because one Asian manufacturer is already suing Apple on the patent infringement grounds based on whatever they did to get their tablet into the form factor, and their product retails at $338.

I\’m willing to wait around for that lower price point, and if it comes with WinXP or 7, I\’ll be happy to put a Kubuntu netbook distro in it.

Which prevents me from having to live in Apple\’s \’walled garden\’(the fanboys might prefer to call it a cyberspece \’gated community\’) and to pick my own apps based on my needs, not Apple\’s bottom line, and instead of having Steve Jobs pick them for me.

Reply
mccwho

Ahhhh, OK
I don\’t mean to bash Apple at all, but I fail to see the \”BIG\” break through. Apple has great marketing. They can make you believe that just because they are just now coming out with it, that makes it new and a revolution.

The old Treo phones (palm OS) could already do almost everything the iphone could (for many years prior), bar the accelerometer and multi-touch. Yes the Treo even had a \”Ture\” GPS option. I almost bought an iphone but could not justify it, there are hundreds of free app\’s for the palm OS. So there was nothing on the iphone that I could not do already. And now there is the Nokia N900.

I have an old Fujitsu tablet, that runs Linux on it. Its a ture tablet, touch screen and no attached keyboard. It does everything and a LOT more then the ipad. All for less then $100 (off of ebay).And it runs all day on a single charge. Has ALL the ports and BT, WiFi, Solid State HD, etc… Heck I even use it to connect to the servers at work either by com port or Ethernet (we don\’t allow wireless connections for security reasons), we wrote a simple application that lets it be used as a monitor with an onscreen keyboard when connected to the server, works as a console. I don\’t see that being a possibility for the ipad.

The company \”Always Innovating\” is working on a detachable touch screen/keyboard tablet for $400. It does more then the ipad, even though its not perfected yet. It will most likely be so soon.

I guess there will always be a market for the apple things, but open source people want \”Freedom\” not Corporate dictation and control.

Microsoft and Apple are the same game just with a different name. I wonder what EULA you will have to agree to, to use it. Proprietary is so last century.

Oh well to each his own (I know the apple lovers will bash me, OH well!).
If you love Apple, fine with me. Don\’t insult me for expressing my option. I don\’t you.

I will not buy one!!! Have a better one already.

Long live Linux.

Reply
ecubeh

Love it or hate it ??? We are getting a little pompous, aren\’t we?

How about ignore it? Surely there are many other developments of greater significance than a fancy tablet with a closed architecture! OK, it may be a Kindle killer. I don\’t see anyone jumping to replace their phone / netbook / desktop with it, though apple fanboys and children may have some fun playing with this must-have toy, this latest dump from the marketing machine.

Dear Steve, you are getting boring in your old age …

Reply
gmeader3

Touch (LinuxPad) distro needed.

Now we need an open-source clone of Apple\’s UIkit touch framework for native Linux (not Android,) so easy-to-use (iPhone-like) Linux-based gestural/touch apps can be written. Here\’s a start: http://parsekit.com/umekit/

Then a distro tailored for touch-screen tablets that are hardware clones of the iPad can be created. (tuxPad?)

Reply
labadie

I prefer the TouchBook of Alwaysinnovating
http://alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/

I can put nearly any distro
Ubuntu, Android, Mer, Gentoo, Chrome OS…

I am not \”linked\” to Apple, or any other company.

And at 299 $, it is much cheaper (well, cheaper than Apple is an overstatement…).

Reply

Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

Reply

Good job maknig it appear easy.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>