Apple releases new feminine hygiene product, fires marketing division
I kid, I kid. But there's a lot of talk about the iPad in the last few days, and I'm trying to keep an open mind because there are people I respect that seem to think it's great. But I don't get it.
The most cogent argument was from Doug, who had a vision. It's true - Apple won't be comparing themselves to the computers that you already have. They won't be comparing to your mobile devices. They're trying hard to carve themselves out a niche, which I understand and respect. I just think that they're doing a crappy job of it.
The first mistake is that they have failed spectacularly to live up to their hype, which, to be honest, isn't really their fault. It's hard to live up to the exquisite fanboyism and ludicrous expectations. Most people who have a Mac swear by them; I seem to be some sort of genetic aMac-freak, immune to the whiles of the computers that "just work". It's only natural that these people hole their beloved company to some intensely high standard to which Apple can not realistically meet. What they have before seems to be solid gold; they want solid gold in the future and, at best, the iPad seems to be bronze, cobalt or some other baser metal. People wanted a Tablet, capital T, Mac-style; instead they get an iPod. Er, sorry. And iPad. It's certainly not just an oversize iPod touch. There's the core of their second problem: this is being labelled as an actual Tablet. There are some problems with that, and most of them have to do with the fact that tablets already exist and every tablet you can buy right now does so much more than the iPad. In fact, the iPad can almost be defined more by what it's not and what it doesn't: No Flash, Doesn't Multitask, No GPS, No Webcam, No Widescreen, No Real Storage, No High Def, No USB, Doesn't Multitask.
What Apple's iPad isn't is a tablet; not how we currently understand tablets to work, anyways. When we say tablet, we basically just mean "laptop with touchscreen". That's a bit of an over-equivocation, but it's roughly true. When people say that they want a Mac Tablet, they want those Mac Tablets to have more in common with this Thinkpad X Series Tablet and less in common with this Telephone.
We all want our computers to be more powerful and less limited than our phones. Almost all of us frequent websites that use Flash. Almost all of us like to do more than one thing at a time on a computer. These things are an important part of the user experience especially in a pre-defined marketplace that already has dozens of different tablets to choose from. Most important, you need to distinguish your product enough from other products so that you don't come off as a huge corporation that's only trying to grasp money out of the hands of the clientele that you purportedly support and care for by reissuing a bulked up version of a product that you're already selling at 30% over fair market value.
The aforementioned Doug had a vision whereby people would use their iPads in the kitchen with no pesky wires, and it could be a hub, an easy access point, for lots of different things, all of which is true (except, arguably, as a place to have your music library - they have no current plans for an iPad that would hold even half of my personal music library, so it just won't work for me to store music on). But that already exists if you want it to. Point in fact: I've had this article open on 3 different computers in 6 different locations. One of them was the kitchen; I listened to a couple of youtube videos on my laptop, sans cord, while doing some dishes.
And that's the biggest problem with the iPad; everything it can do, something else does better.