Particle Debris (week ending 1/29) iPad My Equipment

| Particle Debris

The iPad mania has been so strong this week that I didn't really have time to collect a lot of technical news debris. Indeed, anything but iPad news was really in the noise anyway. Instead, I want to chat about the iPad.

Reader Chris Lucianu wrote me about the striking parallel between the design philosophy of the original Macintosh and the iPad. Mr. Lucianu said: "The parallels are staggering: the limitations, the potential, the game-changing interface, the 'appliance' character. A quarter of a century to go full cycle."

Bingo.

Of course, over time, Apple found that for long term Macintosh success, back in 1985, it had to be opened up. Recall that after the early adopters bought the first Mac -- at a somewhat exorbitant $2,499 price -- sales fell off rapidly. Apple was in short term trouble.

Apple iPad

Apple had to quickly revamp the Mac, becoming the Macintosh Plus, with 1 MB of RAM, a SCSI interface, and an internal hard disk to make it a viable product in the market place. So it will be interesting to see if the iPad can hang onto its 'appliance' nature, or whether market forces will once again require Apple to open up the iPad somewhat.

Next, some readers feel that the iPad isn't really a new breed of device. They see it as simply an iPod touch with a larger screen. That's a seductive thought, an easy conclusion to come to. That means it's wrong.

The iPad is a new breed of device, based on the technology and success of the iPod touch, yet the physical design and growth potential also set it apart. Think of the iPad as Homo Sapiens, an offshoot and an evolution from previous ancestors -- not just a larger animal. Because the iPad has that je ne sais quoi 'intimacy' with the Internet and books, it fundamentally changes our tactile feel for surfing. We hold the Internet and our books and our videos in our hands and view them with new eyes. There is a visceral feel -- not available on the iPod touch. To understand that is to understand the psyche of Jonathan Ive and Steve Jobs. It ain't just bigger hardware, Chewie.

There has been a lot of discussion about the lack of an inward facing video camera. Some have suggested that, unlike a stable MacBook or Cinema Display, the outgoing video from the iPad would be jumping all over. To that, I counter with software image stabilization.

Others have suggested that AT&T demanded that in exchange for the modestly priced data plans, the iPad not be capable of audio + video communications that would tax their network. If you need to talk with someone, AT&T would rather you pull out your iPhone, a device that feeds so much more money into AT&Ts coffers. Several of us think that picture (ahem) will change with time.

Over at AppleInsider, Prince McLean thinks that one of the justifications for the iWork suite is a guerilla action in the enterprise. Mr. McLean wrote: "Sources who talked to Apple's business unit also say the company is working on some additional features that haven't been publicly announced yet. These include support for direct network printing from iPad apps, as well as support for accessing shared files from a local file server." Keynote presentations figure prominently in Mr. McLean's analysis.

Apple subtly changes the culture of the enterprise, not by buckling under to IT managers, rather, by making products so cool and intuitive that employees demand a change in business philosophy. This is going to happen with the iPad -- I am sure of that.

Finally, a lot of the people I've talked to are thinking they they won't need the 3G capabilities of the iPad. it'll be used mostly around the house or the office where Wi-Fi is available. I'm thinking the same thing. The iPad is a coffee table device. It'll get moved around in a local environment, but it'll be a rare situation when we'll depend on the 3G signal. That's fundamentally different than the iPhone -- which goes with you in your pocket everywhere.

I suspect I'll have an iPad on the coffee table, ready to be used during evening time sharing with TV viewing. When I retire, it'll go with me and always be on the night stand. I can't count how many times I have dreamed up a story idea while awake at 2 a.m. The iPad will always be there, ready for me to write out some notes or confirm something on the Internet. Sadly, or maybe not! it's the life of a writer.

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Comments

Nemo

Unfortunately, I get some of my best ideas in the shower or on the head, which are unlikely or even impossible venues for the iPad.  Still, there will be plenty of other places to use the iPad. 

But what Apple must do so that the iPad will be a success is get people to try it.  For a new category of devices, where the experience of using it is much greater than the sum of its features, experiencing the iPad is essential.  Fortunately, Apple is as skilled at marketing as it is at technology, and it now has broad network of Apple Stores where people can try the iPad.  Thus, if Stephen Fry is correct in his view that the experience of using the iPad will win people over—“There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking, still no Adobe Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: ‘Hold your judgment until you’ve spent five minutes with it.” No YouTube film, no promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and interacting with one of these magical objects.’ ” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jan/29/stephen-fry-apple-ipad)—Apple must exercise its considerable talent as a salesman to get them to have that first experience.

geoduck

The iPad is a new breed of device, based on the technology and success of the iPod touch, yet the physical design and growth potential also set it apart.

iPad is to iPod Touch as Birds are to Dinosaurs.
Descended from, in some ways even a subset of, but in reality capable of much more.

Steve Jobs

Fanboi!

The iPad is a new breed of device, based on the technology and success of the iPod touch, yet the physical design and growth potential also set it apart. Think of the iPad as Homo Sapiens, an offshoot and an evolution from previous ancestors—not just a larger animal. Because the iPad has that je ne sais quoi ‘intimacy’ with the Internet and books, it fundamentally changes our tactile feel for surfing. We hold the Internet and our books and our videos in our hands and view them with new eyes. There is a visceral feel—not available on the iPod touch. To understand that is to understand the psyche of Jonathan Ive and Steve Jobs. It ain’t just bigger hardware, Chewie.

You have to be kidding?  Right?  Right?

LOL

Lee Dronick

“Finally, a lot of the people I’ve talked to are thinking they they won’t need the 3G capabilities of the iPad. it’ll be used mostly around the house or the office where Wi-Fi is available. I’m thinking the same thing.”

My wife is thinking different (pun intended). She wants to use the iPad, her getting one is a forgone conclusion, during her commute. Some of her classes are online and she has occasionally used her iPhone to access those web pages. Of course there is the monthly expense of a 3G data plan in addition to the one for our iPhones, but that is part of the cost of an education or luxury as the case may be.

Speaking of education, she is eligible for an education discount and I wonder what those prices will be for the iPad

EricWaj

The 2nd Mac came out in 1985 and had 512K RAM (upgraded from 128k from the original mac in 1984) and was dubbed the ‘fat mac’ and retailed for $3,300. The Mac Plus came out in 1986.

Ninerdick

There will be new ways to use the iPad. One that is not mentioned yet that occurs to me, is to use it as a camera monitor, for any camera with Live View. With the Camera Accessory Kit, Apple will sell a ton of these to Digital SLR users for studio use. What a revolution for studio use: a big live view.

Karl Michaels

This article is on track, as opposed to comments by folks who compare the iPad to a netbook.  The iPad is an output device.  Photo albums can be displayed, photos brought to full screen, and the iPad passed around the room. In business, a sales person can use it like an electronic brochure, with multiple pages. Today’s computers are what is needed for input-with keyboard, scanners, etc.

The iPad virtual keyboard can be used for occcasional data entry, like entering comments on a blog.

Of course, there is also the content distribution goal of Apple.

Dr. Fyzziks

Regarding the “no GPS” bit, it looks as though the 3G iPads *do indeed* include GPS, according to the iPad tech specs on the Apple site.

Location
Wi
-Fi
Digital compass
Assisted GPS 
(Wi-Fi 3G model)
Cellular (Wi-Fi 3G model

Although, as the author says, I’m not sure if I’m going to need the 3G model . Most of the places I plan on using an iPad are serviced by WiFi. Plus, I don’t really want a second data plan on top of my existing iPhone plan.

Now, if I can tether the iPad to my iPhone for those times when I *am* somewhere without WiFi and want a bigger screen to work on, well that would be great.

(on the other hand, the gadget nerd in me really wants a built-in GPS receiver… so maybe I will end up with the 3G model after all)

Lancashire-Witch

The iPad is a new breed of device,

John, I’m not totally convinced. I would be if the umbilical cord was cut - aka the USB sync with iTunes.

If this device, or the next generation of it, becomes Stand-Alone (I don’t like the term, but can’t immediately think of a better one - if you’re “connected” you ain’t alone!), then we truly would have a new breed of device ready for a new breed of (end)user - who didn’t need any other device to make it work.
They might choose to have other devices -but they wouldn’t need one.

The new breed of user would think a driver is a golf club. They would never have to “lift the hood” to install new parts, fix or change things; or stare, totally befuddled, at messages about scripts, plug-ins, or wonder why “System Restore” didn’t work this time…

It would be a great day for everyone who has ever sat in front of a computer (that’s a euphemism for PC) and wondered why on earth they were ever persuaded to buy one.

The world has changed since 1985. Now, I think,  there are a whole bunch of people who just want an appliance that works, because they simply want to email, surf the web, share photos, watch mov… (nuf said).

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