I feel it would be wrong to let this week go by without at least commenting on the launch of the iPad. There is no question that Apple has become the master of hype. Everyone wanted Apple’s new gadget, even before we knew what it was.
But now that we’ve seen the iPad and heard more about it, the question I ask is “who is this for”? I see what Apple’s trying to do by finding a sweet spot in the market between their current offerings. The iPad does fit a niche today that’s populated by cumbersome, workhorse netbooks that aren’t pretty, but they get the job done, for a reasonable price.
To me, the iPad is missing a few things to really make it work. Is it an eBook reader? A web browser? A digital lifestyle device? It’s really a jack-of-all-trades, master of none in my opinion. It’s pretty and it offers more real estate than an iPod Touch or an iPhone, but how much more functionality does it really bring to the table?
It’s supposed to be a great web browser. However with so many sites leveraging Flash and Silverlight and the iPad not supporting either of these, how much of the web experience are you missing?
It’s also pitched as a great tool for email and photos. But it’s still missing a viable data entry device for emails. The on-screen keyboard is fine for short text or messages, but not for much more. Even support for handwriting with a stylus would have been helpful. For photos, it’s missing two key features as well – an SD slot and USB port. Sure there will be accessories from Apple in the future, but these are more things you will need to carry around.
It’s not an eBook reader either. As much as the publishing industry is hoping that Apple can do for it what the iPod did for the music industry, I just don’t see it happening. Even with its faults, the Kindle has a better screen and battery life for reading books.
So what is the iPad good for? It’s great at promoting the concept of the tablet to the general public. There are a slew of these offerings coming to the market and everyone will benefit from the hype Apple’s created. The iPad has helped bring mobile back into the spotlight and give it some much needed credibility.