Since Steve Jobs presentation a couple weeks ago, anyone with a pulse has chimed in on the iPad. As always, the factions are split, with some touting it as the next big thing, while the haters have derided it with much vitriol, the most juvenile of which have focused on the name itself. I am saving my final thoughts until I actually see one in person, but I do have a few initial observations. Yes, I am an Apple fangirl and a card carrying member of the cult of Mac, so keep that in mind as you read my comments. I want this to be a success for the company because I admire Apple’s place in the industry and basically worship Steve Jobs. Below is an episode of Charlie Rose, featuring Walt Mossberg of All Things Digital and Wall Street Journal, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch and David Carr of The New York Times, speaking about the iPad. These are all people I respect and admire, and each has a favorable impression of the future of this device. Granted, there are criticisms. Arrington is disappointed about the lack of Flash. That doesn’t bother me so much. I’m in the camp that thinks plug-ins will soon be a thing of the past. Most feel that a camera will be included in the near future. Some think the price will go down. But they all seem to be of the belief that this has the potential to be a game-changer. I agree. The key, as identified in the video, is creating this new market, between phones and laptops. As an e-book reader, I think it will be, hands down, a much better experience than anything else on the market, including the Kindle, which has already sold “millions” according to CEO Jeff Bezos. But I have been hesitant to purchase a dedicated reader, because it seems like a waste to have only one function for a product. I have the Kindle app on my phone, but have rarely used it to read a book. I think the iPad will come closest to simulating a traditional book reading experience, but will offer additional features that will be attractive to the average user, like the productivity suite (at $9.99 per app), the ability to listen to music, watch movies, and all the iPhone apps and the new ones to be developed to maximize the iPad interface.
There were some interesting observations about the lack of multi-tasking on the unit. Carr felt that it would allow a more focused reading experience, without the need to have your Twitter feed and email open at the same time as you are reading a book. Is Steve Jobs forcing us to focus, or is this just something to optimize performance?
My biggest concern is in owning another device. I love that so many things have converged on my iPhone. I really hate to travel with a laptop. They are so heavy and difficult to deal with during airport screening. The whole experience is stressful. But the phone is too small for a great reading/viewing experience and most productivity applications that I often need while traveling. So will the iPad fill this space for me?
I’m also concerned about portability. I don’t want to pay $500+ for something that is going to get nicked and damaged from basic usage when I transport it. Will there be lovely, elegant cases developed for it (the one in the pres looked pretty basic)? Will the screen get dirty easily? Will I need to put some plastic film over it, like I do on my phone? Will it break if I drop it in a soft landing situation (like falling a foot onto carpet or clunking into something in my bag)?
One of the things I noticed in looking at the screenshots of Jobs’ presentation was that it looked like the Pages app allowed you to work in a book interface. Will this be like GarageBand, allowing amateur authors to make their own books and upload to the bookstore, completely eliminating the publisher from the distribution channel?
It certainly looks like it will be a beautiful device with a pleasing interface. I don’t really have a problem with the touch-screen keyboard, because I think we’ll all get used to it, and the tech will just get better.
We’ll have to wait and see. In a perfect world, I’d like to be able to press a button and have my iPhone expand to a larger format. But it would have to be in a way that was beautiful and elegant, consistent with Apple’s design aesthetic. And, short of hocus-pocus, I don’t see that happening (although if anyone can do it…). So, the decision will be, does this device do enough to warrant yet another electronic in my toolkit?
What do you think?