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Apple iPad – The Barack Obama of the Computing World?

Scott on January 28, 2010 at 9:14 am

What do you get when the rumors and promises and hype of the last year deliver something much less than expected?

If you are into politics, you get President Barack Obama as seen at last night’s State of the Union address.

If you are into technology, you get the newly unveiled Apple iPad.

The website MASHABLE has a nice review of the iPad, detailing why it disappoints.  The gist of it:

The iPad is not the transformational device so many Apple enthusiasts were hoping for. It won’t turn all the content industries upside down,  it won’t be your primary computing device, and it’s not even a bigger, better iPhone.

(Hmmm…kind of like President Obama isn’t the transformational president that so many were convinced he would be.)

As the guys at MASHABLE see it, here are the primary problems…

1)  Web Browsing: It isn’t a better way to browse the web for several reasons including the fact that while the touch screen eliminates the need for a mouse, you still need a keyboard.  To use a keyboard with the iPad you need to either pull up the on-screen keyboard and then move back and forth between the two, or you need to use the keyboard dock, which will be awkward to go from touch screen to keyboard and back again.  Also, and to me this is a big one, the iPad doesn’t support Flash, and since the  bulk of the rich media on the web is Flash-based, THAT is a big problem and will make experiencing the Web on the iPad much less than it should/could be.

2)  eReader: As an eReader, the cost of the iPad will be double that of the Kindle, the Nook and Sony’s Reader.  Plus, the iPad display does not come with an e-ink option, so anyone who wants to use the iPad primarily as an eReader will encounter eye strain from the light put out by the iPad.

3)  Smartphone/Laptop: The iPad is not as good as a good Smartphone, nor is it as good as a good laptop.  The iPad can’t do any more than a good smartphone, and in some instances it can actually do less.  The same could be said if one were to want to use it as a laptop, but even more so.

4)  What It Doesn’t Have: It doesn’t have USB/Firewire ports, a camera or very much memory (unless you want to pay the extra freight).  The battery life (approx 10 hrs) is OK, except that the Kindle’s battery life is approximately a week, so as an eReader the iPad doesn’t have enough juice to cut it.

5)  Closed Computing at its Most Irritating: All of the content of the iPad (applications, television/movies, music, books, etc) are locked into being processed through the iTunes store.  Period.  I think this is the most frustrating aspect of the iPad and will, potentially, do the most damage to its marketability in the long run.  I understand, to a certain extent, Apple’s approach to closed computing and wanting to keep a certain amount of control on the quality of product that is available for its customers.  John and I have had discussions about this idea as relates to the iPhone/iTouch in particular, but this is taking it to an entirely new and frustratingly deep level.

I have hopes that as the iPad evolves, Apple will deal with many of these issues.  It wouldn’t take much for them to actually tackle all of them within a year, which is when (presumably) the iPad 2.0 will be released.

Here are a few more reviews of the iPad.

What’s Missing from the Apple iPad?

A Comprehensive Guide to the Apple iPad

Apple iPad is Just Another DOA

By the way, what is with the name?  iPad?!?  Really?  That is the best Apple could come up with?  The jokes are already flying and some of them are brutal enough that if I buy one, I might try to keep it out of sight until my friends leave.

UPDATE: Buried at the bottom of a MASHABLE write-up titled What We Learned About Apple Yesterday, I found this really thought-provoking observation:

Could it be that one powerful device is not as good as several less powerful, but more focused ones?  The way I see it, the iPad is not about creating; it’s all about consuming content.

A good point and one worth considering.  Why no camera?  Why no USB/Firewire ports?  Perhaps because in the grand master plan of Apple, the iPad is all about consumption.  It isn’t about more powerful computing.  It’s about a targeted piece of technology aimed at encouraging people to consume more television, movies, books, music, etc.  It isn’t about CREATION of content.  It’s about consumerism.

Thoughts, class?

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