iPad and its future

Some time ago I wrote about the upcoming Apple tablet which now will know as the iPad.  Here is a short video that shows off its features.

It is a device in between the iPhone and their portable laptops.  And it is a device with much promise as I believe there is this need for a mid-level device to compliment the smaller and always mobile iPhone and the more powerful and work centric MacBook Pros.  But for the moment this is really just an iBook reader for me.  And perhaps a replacement for the small laptop that my Dad uses.

So right off the bat, this device is simpler to use and that will have steady appeal for many folks who only need a browser and an email client.  Who never need word processing, spreadsheets and so forth.  My Dad clearly falls into that category.  A targeted device that is responsive, simple easy to sit with and tote around may be all he needs.  In some ways the iPhone is too powerful and complicated for many users like that.

It was very significant to me that this is the first device to use a new class Apple designed processor – the A4.  Apple purchase a high performance and low power design group for, I believe $250M, about 2 years ago and this is the first thing that bears fruit from that decision.  Interesting but the story is just unfolding is my prediction.  For one thing, having your own processor group allows you to keep your development directions more secret from competitors.  You want to know Apple’s MacBook roadmap, look at the Intel roadmap for its processors.  At least for now.  The use of the A4 must send shivers up the spines of the folks at Intel.

For example, Intel in the last year did their basic IP slaughter on the folks at nVidia and that was bad for Apple as the chips that they had designed in for graphics processors and into the OS as coprocessors will not be used in the future because nVidia is precluded from selling chips.  That is the law but it is not good for the community.  And if I were Apple, I would reflect on that and plan a different future 5 years out.

Next, most significant was what was left out of this device –

  • Multitasking comes to mind first.  The iPhone does not multitask and that means things you want to do simultaneously cannot be done.  I am surprised they left this out with all of the horsepower of the processor but perhaps that is for iPad OS 2.0.
  • a user facing camera for video conferencing, using skype among family members who are far apart.  this will come in the next generation device.
  • a stylus.  I have seen pretty cool use of stylus in presentations by others using tablets lately and they use it to highlight things on the screen of a presentation very effectively.  Also taking notes would be better especially when you want to include sketches and the like.  But maybe the touch interface will be sufficiently refined in the device to make this possible anyway.
  • a real underpinning inside the device and the SDK to support the iPad’s use in education.  Such a device might be put in every school kids hands and we do away with text books.  they take notes, tests, get feedback and even interact with their parents all through this single simple UI and device.  Missed opportunity there or at best postponed.

Anyway, tell me what you think about the most hyped device of the decade.  Unlike the iPhone, I am significantly underwhelmed.

More on the Incubator in the next couple of days.


Posted in Essays, StartUp Ideas

  1. Matt Rhodes says:

    In my opinion, you’re evaluating the iPad as a productivity tool and through that lens, I agree, it’s underwhelming. I see iPad, however, as a entertainment device, i.e. iPod touch on steroids, and in that light I find it very interesting. I believe it will be used as a portable entertainment center; music, video, books, etc. For better or worse, it will be a successful product in those applications and certainly an “ebook killer”. And, by the way, it will do OK for Web, News and e-mail and therefore be a decent business travel “companion”. Result: Killer product for Apple.

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