Friday, January 29, 2010

The significance of the iPad

I wrote about the iPad's specs in a seperate entry only to be able to fully relish in what I have to say about what I feel that the iPad means in the long run for Apple and for us all. This is another entry of mine, where I attempt to predict the future and yes, attempt to predict based on what I see in the iPad what iPhone 4.0 will be like.

So the iPad's received with some enthusiasm but mostly dissapointment, okay. Does it mean bad sales for Apple? Yeah, probably does, but when Apple has bad sales, it means that only 2.5 million devices are sold instead of 3.1 million. So I think Apple can handle it.

What then, does the device mean in the long run? Will it be an embarrassing flop in the history of Apple or will it just turn out to be a product that Apple "wanted out of its system", just to get the hype and the speculation out of the way? Or will it simply be a product, that Apple won't be pushing as a big selling product, but simply as a product to keep the Apple brand in peoples' minds?

No one can be told, where the future lies

In my limited wisdom, I can pretend to see a few things in the future of Apple because of the iPad. Or more precisely, I think I can predict what's to come by just looking at the iPad.

Firstly, the iPad doesn't support multitasking. I think this is worrying for a couple of reasons:

#1, If the iPad is supposed to be something from between a lap top and a smart phone, why is there this deficiency in the device that just doesn't make any sense. Why is it lacking something, that mid-range smart phones have almost by default these days? I think this goes to show, that Apple's dropped the ball the technological advancement of their devices and frankly shows a loss of vision on what it was they wanted to accomplish with the iPad.

#2, I think that this stubbornness to not include multitasking in the iPad even after all the hell that the iPhone's raised for lacking in the same feature is Apple continuing its most irritating routine, that I think will now begin to turn against them. For as long as Apple's been in the mobile device industry, Apple's been placing restriction after restriction surrounding the software of the iPhone and only allowing the phone to be sold on contract to one operator. Determined on not including MMS immediately to the phone even after huge popular request, Apple seems to want to do things 'The Apple Way', which to most doesn't make any sense at all. I think the same is going on here, but now its resulted in a product that's behind its time and quite frankly, will very soon be sub-par.

* For an additional explanation, scroll to the very bottom of this post to see an interpretation based on the history of Apple!

Secondly, the iPad runs on software, that allows seamless compatibility with the iPhone. This is kind of cool on one hand, but absolutely devastating to the device on the other:

#1, You can run iPhone software on the tablet and you don't need to modify the program in any way. Apple only realeased the SDK for developers to optimise their applications for the larger screen of the iPad. This is a nice touch. Sadly, I think this is where the lack of multitasking came from, as if the iPhone can't run two apps at the same time, then neither can the iPad. To me, it is a given that a laptop-ish device should be able to multitask. I think its unnacceptable that a mobile computer will not multitask. MID-computers multitask and can cost up to 200€ less than the iPad. Why doesn't the iPad multitask!?

#2, I think this says a lot about the next iPhone. The release of the new iPhone must be pretty close now. Therefore it wouldn't make sense that Apple would release the iPad now and then release a new iPhone that wasn't compatible with the iPad. Therefore the software platform must be very similar. Conclusion: no multitasking. The iPad also has seperate applications for viewing YouTube content, so this leads me to believe, that so will the new iPhone.

There's also a lot to be said about Apple's strategy of marketing the iPad as a device from between two devices, the smart phone and the laptop:

#1, If the iPad is less advanced than a laptop, but more advanced than a smart phone, then the next iPhone can't be more advanced than the iPad. It is such a shame that it will probably be this way, but this again, is in my oppinion a testament to 'The Apple Way' slowly beginning to kill Apple.

#2, Apple's decision to make the iPad so similar to the iPhone is in my view a conscious strategy to 'stick with what you know'. In all honesty, the iPad looks like a giant iPhone. I think the notion of a giant iPhone is a very bad assosiation to  have with the device, as it sounds really comical. Now think about having to pay 600€ for this thing. Yeah, you're not smiling now, are you?

Just look at what fans did with the concept of an Apple tablet PC:

Playing it safe definitely doesn't sound like Apple, the company that revolutionised first the way we listen to music and then the way we want our smart phones to look and feel like. What on earth is going on with this design decision? And what was that company that's been receiving a lot of heat for not reinventing itself for the past 12+ months? Oh yeah, NOKIA. Is Apple repeating Nokia's mistakes?


It's been a bit of a long post again, but I hope you read this all the way through.

Below's my extra speculation about why I think there's something going wrong in Apple's strategy:

* Now this is a bit far-fetched, but in the past, Apple made some great successes (I'm talking Apple II in 1977 and Macintosh in 1984 here), but after that things just kind of slipped out of hand. They didn't have new ideas to bring out, so they repeated the same thing they'd done before. At some point of this process, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple and on his return in ~1997, Steve declared that Apple had been reminissing in the past for too long and so he came up with the iPod in 2001, which is a far more familiar story to everyone I believe. Could this be Apple getting stuck in the old routine again?

© Christopher Peake 2010

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