In one corner is Adobe and its rageful supporters: “F-U Steve Jobs and your damned closed system!” In another the tech fetishists: “Why doesn’t the device have this and that and several other components?” Then there are those who love it (like me), and still others who like it but see it as the death of books (it’s not).
It’s fascinating to watch all the bile as well as the speculation about how the device will impact computing. Of course, it already has.
My belief is that the iPad launch (maybe Kindle too before it) will stand in retrospect as a “watershed moment” in computing, just as the iPhone launch dates the beginning of the “mobile Internet.” Indeed, the Internet is more and more about mobility; the iPhone started the movement and the iPad accelerates the trend.
The iPad and maybe its future imitators offer a tremendous potential boon to traditional magazine and newspaper publishers if they don’t blow it. Without exception they should develop iPad apps that really optimize the experience for the device. If they get it right and the pricing too they’ll be able to reap subscription dollars from the iPad.
People will pay, I’m convinced, for great content well presented on the iPad while they remain unlikely to pay for PC-based content subscriptions. The art however will be in the pricing.
Meanwhile the imitators are gearing up. Most visible is HP with its Windows 7 Slate:
H.P.’s version of the iPad is expected to be released by midyear. Notably, it will have a camera, as well as ports for add-on devices, like a mouse. Also, it will, the company says in a promotional video, “run the complete Internet,” including videos and other entertainment.
Phil McKinney, the chief technology officer in H.P.’s personal systems group, said in a recent interview that the company had been working on its tablet for five years. It delayed releasing the product, he said, until the price could be lower.
This “complete Internet” strategy is misguided and the product will fail, unless it’s dirt cheap and/or totally capable of replacing a laptop. If it is a cheaper-than-a-netbook laptop replacement some people will buy it. If it comes in below $300 people will buy it. But HP, from what I’ve seen so far, doesn’t “get” what this new tablet experience is about. Sure it’s about the Internet but its mainly about a new way to consume content that’s redesigned for a tablet — specifically.
The Internet is an efficient but ultimately horrible way to read the NY Times. And while the NY Times has a sub-optimized iPad App it’s already a much better experience than the conventional Internet.
The app is king of this new realm. And that’s what an HP, or Acer or Dell don’t fully recognize (yet) and can’t compete with. These companies can produce good devices that are more convenient and “personal” than a laptop — and some of them will — but no matter how many ports and how much Flash are on these devices they’re unlikely to trump the iPad. I could be proven wrong but I don’t think so.
Android will be interesting to watch. Just as the inaugural Android device was shifted from a BlackBerry clone to an iPhone imitator, Google’s Chrome OS/netbook strategy is probably shifting as we speak. There were a couple of Android tablets before the iPad (though none successful). However the ultimate realization of Google’s Chrome OS cloud strategy will be a tablet that perhaps runs Flash as well as Android apps. Google had planned to put out Internet-books by Thanksgiving 2010 but I suspect now we’ll see a few tablets as well.
Those who haven’t lived with the iPad for several weeks but critique it don’t really know what they’re talking about. The smug “I’m waiting for version 2.0” crowd is also missing out.
Sure it’s a luxury item but it’s a great (and of course imperfect) device that in most respects is a lot more satisfying to use than a PC or a smartphone.