No FridgeToaster for You: Let the iPad Evolve

| Hidden Dimensions

All evolution in thought and conduct must at first appear as heresy and misconduct.” — George Bernard Shaw

EvolutionDuring Apple’s Financial Results Conference Call on Tuesday, Tim Cook dismissed the idea of a hybrid device, the convergence of the MacBook and an iPad. He clearly stated, “We’re not going to that party.” I think the reason is related to the natural selection and evolution of the iPad.

The Apple iPad is in its infancy. While it took 24 years for Apple to sell 67 million Macs, it’s only taken two years to sell 67 million iPads. It’s a brand new technology, almost a new life form, if you will. It’s growing, morphing, and inventing itself at an enormous pace. One early misstep could seriously impact the full course of development.

Therefore, the idea of a hybrid device, a MacBook-like notebook with a display that can be twisted around, closed, and act like an iPad is really just a bad habit from 24 years of life with Macs. It’s an old generation dream that doesn’t allow for the natural evolution of this new breed of product.

The FridgeToaster Disaster

I think Tim Cook must have been aware of things on the drawing board that would suggest the natural evolution of the iPad when he made his remarks. The fact that he took the opportunity to reveal that Apple isn’t going down a specific path was probably intentional and strategic, but it still made me think that the the context was Mr. Cook’s knowledge of future products — without revealing anything specific.

For example, suppose the iPad as we know it were to morph into this:

Hybrid MacBook/iPadImage Credit: Brydge

Ok, that’s possible, engineering-wise. I’ve already seen Toshiba Windows notebooks whose top twists around and close to become a tablet. In this case, the keyboard is just about the right size.

But let’s say the 7.85-inch iPad launches at Christmas, and, oops, it’s too small to have a keyboard. The result is that the iPad line becomes fragmented, a few vocal customers (and columnists) complain that the 7-in iPad has no keyboard, and suddenly the evolution of the product becomes tangled. Strangled.

Mr. Cook was right that different customers need MacBooks and iPads at different times and for different uses. Holding the iPad back, trying to make it half-baked MacBook hybrid would constrain the technology and sales.

Historial Perspective

I remember when the original Mac came out in 1984. Under the Apple Menu were what was then called Desk Accessories: a calculator, a notepad an alarm clock and so on. (Think of them as widgets.) Initially, it wasn’t possible to alter the set of DA’s. Then, with some changes in the OS and clever developers, we had, voila!, the Font/DA Mover. We Mac users were in heaven. It was a small change, but it seemed like a seachange to us.

It seems to me that we’re more or less in that phase right now with the iPad. It has some quirky limitations related to files, folders, finding which screen an app is on, moving files back and forth to a Mac and so on. The iPad is a very locked down appliance, just as Steve Jobs envisioned the 1984 Mac as an appliance.

With any new product, it has to be fairly limited or it would never ship and the developers could never get started. Then, the user base grows, they mature and the technology matures. New ideas come along to make our lives easier. The OS mutates. It is always so.

Synergy Rules

Over the next 10 years, the iPad will change dramatically. We may come to dispense with any keyboard at all as voice input gets to the Star Trek level of perfection. There will be better ways to move files around and renew the synergy between apps. New physical sizes will come along, both smaller and larger than the current 9.7-inch model that will meet the new needs of customers. This will be in response to the improved OS technology, and in turn, the many new uses that the technology invites.

For example, improvements in optics could mean that the 7-inch iPad becomes the quintessential personal video recorder. Improvements in iOS and materials could mean that we can comfortably sit at our desk and create content on a 21-inch iPad instead of a 21-inch iMac. Larger iPads could become the next generation TV.

These are just some casual thoughts on how the iPad could evolve over the next decade. I am very sure that Mr. Cook understands this evolutionary process and is going to let the iPad grow and evolve in its own way, leaving the classic PC permanently in the past.

This is no time for a strained, artificial convergences. I can fully see how Apple wants to let iPad natural selection run its course.

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Evolution Image Credit: Shutterstock.

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6 Comments Leave Your Own

Lancashire-Witch

Maybe “fridge/toaster” conveys misleading issues.  Maybe “fridge/pantry” or “toaster/toasting fork” would have been better.

This is all about changing technology it’s not about a merger of two different technologies ( and one older than the other)

We were willing to accept the end of the typewriter with the advent of the word processor. Looks like touchscreen devices, of varying sizes and capabilities, will herald the end of ‘traditional computers’ with a keyboard/pointing device/display.

wab95

John:

A philosophical observation.

I am frequently reminded of sociologists’ and political scientists’ warning that, the reason why most revolutions fail, is that they reinstal the very systems they sought to overthrow.

That the current generation of hardware users and OEMs seek to recreate, albeit in modified and evermore clever forms, the same devices we already have, or hybrid devices that combine our favoured features from different devices, is no surprise; neither is it the future.

Revolutions are uncomfortable, disruptive, disquieting affairs that create fear, anxiety, and a longing to return to the comfort of the familiar, however oppressive it may have been. It was the devil we knew, and to which we had adapted.

Enter nature’s clever aid to evolution and the sustainer of change, death. And birth. With the advent of new generation who knew not the ways of yore, and therefore long not for that which they never knew, as well as the passing on of a generation whose prime and time have passed, comes sustained change, and with it, a new world of wonders and ways.

While I am not advocating for anyone’s death (but neither do I fear it, I merely here cite its value, both literally and metaphorically, as I do birth, as an agent of change), I recognise that, for an entire generation reared on beige boxes, humongous keyboards, mice and heavy, boxy peripherals - and that transmillennial favourite - paper, certain themes will recur, such as things with keyboards, pointers, and peripherals. The cloud, with its nebulous nature, will remain, for many, both a mystery and a thing distrusted when not feared (how many have stated that they will never store their data in the cloud?). It will be left to our children and theirs, to carry the revolution forward and do with iPads and their successors what none of this generation have yet to see or even imagine.

Such has been the way of change since time unfathomable. This is why, I believe, that a period of adjustment, during which we will remain relatively non-receptive to further change, is necessary before we are ready and receptive for ‘the next big thing’. By that time, we will have witnessed the emergence of behaviours with our new crop of devices, under the leadership of a new generation, that will warrant, indeed require, a new round of ‘next big things’. God-willing, we will be incapable of preventing it, even if around to bear witness.

iJack

Under the image above, Business Insider is credited, but I’m pretty certain that is a picture of an iPad + a Brydge keyboard accessory.  I see nothing wrong with the use of real keyboards with an iPad.  Some times you need it, the rest of the time it sits in a corner.

Use one or not, I don’t see it as a morphed iPad.

Brydge: http://kck.st/KfjaGF

Gareth Harris

John, as an old computer guy. [Emphasis on old. I have been substitute teaching for some middle schoolers this week.], I went through the transitions from mainframes to minicomputers to microcomputers to personal computers. The iPad is another transition that takes computing to a new demographic. What we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg as computing finally reaches past the geeks to the masses of people.

These are people who don’t know and don’t care what is under the hood. They just want to put the key in and go. The iPad is the model T that takes computing to the masses. It took a long time to add usability changes to the model T: starters, brakes, seats, heaters [and eventually air conditioners], radios, nice seats, and oh yeah, enclose it from the weather. Along the way, car geeks complained about no more access to the spark advance and automatic chokes, etc.

Sound familiar? Some people would complain if they were hung with a new rope.

AlaskaJohnboy

It is a FROASTER…..

SumGai

Call me picky, but to have natural selection requires variation. There can’t be “iPad natural selection” unless there were many forms of iPads which would compete against each other. Distinctly more descriptive of the android camp than the ultra simplified product line-up Apple provides

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