iPad – third way or solution looking for a problem?

jobsandipadWell, I guess that as someone with technical credentials I should comment on the unveiling of Apple’s new tablet machine, the iPad.  The first thing I will say is that I’m not an Apple fanboi, and so am probably a hard audience to impress.  Anyway, here’s what Apple have to say – I like that price tag, although I expect the usual dollar / pound sterling equivalence will work giving a price range of £500 for the lowest memory / WiFi option through to about £850 for the 3G / 64Gb unit.    But, I have to say, that at first glance it looks beautiful.  Take a look at this from the engadget site (the start of the presentation is at the end of the page, ad the images run in chronological order up the page).

At half an inch thick and about 9.5″ by 7.5″ it has a slightly odd page aspect ratio – it basically looks like an iPod Touch or an iPhone for giants. 🙂  It will run existing apps from the Apple App store, and will also talk to iTunes to get media.  There is a 30 pin connector to charge through and connect to other devices – including PCs.  The unit comes with up to 64Gb memory, has a 1GHz bespoke processor from Apple, called A4,  WiFi as standard an 3G as an extra, touch keyboard a-la-iPhone, GPS, accelerometer for motion sensitive UI, etc.  Ah, what the heck – here’s the technical specs.  No point in regurgitating what’s elsewhere!!  Like I said, think about a wider, longer iPhone.

It looks good – the processor looks pretty capable, and if one were to appear in my birthday bag or Christmas stocking I wouldn’t say no. 

I have to admit that I’m old enough to remember Apple’s first pass at pad computing donkey’s years ago – the Apple Newton.  It was a concept ahead of it’s time.  This machine looks like it really hits the spot on so many levels, but I’m always a believer in ‘Never buy Version 1.0 of anything’, and I do have a few reservations in terms of both business and technology. 

No SD Slot– I appreciate that this seems a small thing when you’re looking at something that can handle 64Gb, but it seems to be a problem with Apple gear that they always ship it with less memory than you want.  I can see lots of applications where media could be distributed on an SD card for plugging in to a gadget like this.

Battery life / replacement– not the life time of the battery in normal use – that 10hrs is pretty cool – but the problems about replacing the unit when it fails.  Are we looking at a similar situation to that experienced with iPods, or have Apple learnt?

Software Development– The Software Development Kit that is available is still unsurprisingly Mac centric – based as it is on the iPhone / iPod SDK and looks at first glance to be more of a conversion kit for existing iPhone / iPod apps than a new development environment.  It’s not available for any other platform than Mac, and Apple also charge for the privilege of belonging to the developer programme.  All in all, seems a little short sighted in terms of application development.  Whilst there are thousands upon thousands of available applications, the question is just how many are genuinely useful on a platform closer to a Netbook than a pocket phone.

Lack of ‘open’ connectivity– I would have liked to have seen a bog standard micro-USB port rather than just the Apple Docking port.

 Having said all that – it’s a nice piece of kit and one step closer to Star Trek.  I could see myself buying one and using it as ‘player / reader’ for media, rather than as a portable work tool.  I could imagine it being given out at high-end conferences packed with stuff for delegates.  I could imagine it as a brilliant teaching tool.  I can see lots of uses, but whether it succeeds or not must surely depend upon bringing the price point down, opening it up a little and finding the killer application.

It has the potential to be a ‘third way’ between phone and Netbook, or a solution looking for a problem.  And I’m not yet 100% convinced which way it will go.  Ask me when we finally see the UK pricing.

0 thoughts on “iPad – third way or solution looking for a problem?

  1. A couple more observations….

    No Camera. Is this a problem? I don’t believe it is. Think of use. A webcam might have been a useful adjunct at the top edge of teh screen, but I’d be surprised if I saw many people pointing their iPads at people to take snaps in pubs!

    Flash – didn’t list Flash as a software option. Is this an issue? Potentially. I don’t think it’s a show stopper but would be a surprising omission. Unless there’s a way of adding additional sofwtare.

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