Apple Hybrid Computer

  • Posted: 13 September 2011 05:36 PM

    I was a big fan of the iPad from the beginning, and I tried to make it my sole computer.  But it didn’t cut it (for reasons we all know), so I broke down and bought a Macbook Air.  I love the MBA too, and now use it about 70% of the time, iPad 30% of the time.

    Am I satisfied?  No. 

    Having two devices with overlapping functionality is frustrating.  I need to decide which to bring with me on various occasions, or whether to bring both.  I need to charge both each night, and take multiple charging cables with me when I travel.

    I want one computing device (in addition to what I carry in my pocket).  I’m willing to endure a few feature/functionality sacrifices to get it. 

    If Microsoft pulls off its “no compromises” Windows 8 hybrid device, it will be compelling. 

    But I left the Microsoft world five years ago and hope not to return.  Please, Apple, give me a hybrid in 2012.

         
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    Posted: 13 September 2011 05:49 PM #1

    macorange - 13 September 2011 08:36 PM

    ...I need to charge both each night, and take multiple charging cables with me when I travel…

    Can the Air not charge the iPad via USB cable?

         
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    Posted: 13 September 2011 06:15 PM #2

    I’d bring both. Even with charging cables & bricks for both iPad & Air, total weight should be ~5 lbs. Current Windows convertibles weigh about the same with the extended battery pack (standard batteries won’t come anywhere close to even 7 hrs. of normal use).

    I very much doubt Windows 8 devices will be “compelling”. JMO. We won’t know for at least another year. That said, the idea of a 13” MB Air convertible is very intriguing. Maybe Jony Ive is working on it?

         
  • Posted: 13 September 2011 06:59 PM #3

    Drew Bear - 13 September 2011 09:15 PM

    Maybe Jony Ive is working on it?

    Let’s ask him.

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    Posted: 13 September 2011 08:50 PM #4

    macorange - 13 September 2011 08:36 PM

    I was a big fan of the iPad from the beginning, and I tried to make it my sole computer.  But it didn’t cut it (for reasons we all know), so I broke down and bought a Macbook Air.  I love the MBA too, and now use it about 70% of the time, iPad 30% of the time.

    Am I satisfied?  No. 

    Having two devices with overlapping functionality is frustrating.  I need to decide which to bring with me on various occasions, or whether to bring both.  I need to charge both each night, and take multiple charging cables with me when I travel.

    I want one computing device (in addition to what I carry in my pocket).  I’m willing to endure a few feature/functionality sacrifices to get it. 

    If Microsoft pulls off its “no compromises” Windows 8 hybrid device, it will be compelling. 

    But I left the Microsoft world five years ago and hope not to return.  Please, Apple, give me a hybrid in 2012.

    It’s the old one size fits all.  I’m interested in which tasks drive your choice, I would assume a typing heavy task or one require access to multiple windows would require the MBA and about everything else the iPad can do the job if “Their’s an App for That”.  We know that the compute power for a highly mobile platform like iPad, are accelerating rapidly and the next couple years will be the same so for the average office worker kind of task the iPad/iPhone SOC will have plenty of horsepower come 2012/13 to support most desktop class tasks.  The question then becomes is how to bridge the gap between the two UI paradigms.  Apple chose to force developers to re think their application using the new iPad UI paradigm.  One area you see the difference is the size of target buttons, sliders and such.  We all have gone to a web page designed around the mouse interface and our fat finger can’t hit the touch target, because the developer never envisioned a user trying to select the item using their finger.  I think the risk in Microsoft approach is the lazy developer will not rethink how a user should interact with their app on a desktop vs a tablet.  The problem IMO of a hybrid approach is how you solve this UI issue.  The data should flow smoothly and I definitely believe that both UI’s have their strengths and weaknesses, but if Microsoft does not rewrite the Microsoft Word UI for when a user wants to work on Word via tablet and instead uses the standard Word and force the user to try and pick from tiny icons and such, it will be a failure.  I haven’t had time to really look at the Windows 8 beta, so I have no opinion yet on how well they have succeeded to date.

         
  • Posted: 15 September 2011 11:36 AM #5

    I guess for me I don’t have a horse in this race. What I do professionally (print design and layout and illustration) can’t be done in a portable setting (in my opinion). Laptops have always been overpowered for what I would need a mobile device for, which is basically everything my iPad does now. Besides, why would I want to do page layout sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, but I would like to use the web or watch a movie, which the iPad is perfect for. I really think most of the griping online about the iPad not being a laptop replacement is from writers whose primary computer is a laptop. For designers I think the argument is pointless because an iPad designed to do design work would hardly be portable, or if it was portable, hardly an efficient design tool. Sometimes one size fits all doesn’t fit.

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    Posted: 15 September 2011 11:45 AM #6

    macorange - 13 September 2011 08:36 PM

    I was a big fan of the iPad from the beginning, and I tried to make it my sole computer.  But it didn’t cut it (for reasons we all know), so I broke down and bought a Macbook Air.  I love the MBA too, and now use it about 70% of the time, iPad 30% of the time.

    Am I satisfied?  No. 

    Having two devices with overlapping functionality is frustrating.  I need to decide which to bring with me on various occasions, or whether to bring both.  I need to charge both each night, and take multiple charging cables with me when I travel.

    I want one computing device (in addition to what I carry in my pocket).  I’m willing to endure a few feature/functionality sacrifices to get it. 

    If Microsoft pulls off its “no compromises” Windows 8 hybrid device, it will be compelling. 

    But I left the Microsoft world five years ago and hope not to return.  Please, Apple, give me a hybrid in 2012.

    It won’t happen in 2012. Apple is VERY stingy when it comes to HW spec upgrades and what you’re looking for probably won’t happen until ipad4.

    JMO, but pining for a Win tablet seems a bit absurd. It will go NOWHERE and be a failure. The only ‘tablet’ that has a chance of selling in any quantity will come from Amazon and that’s only because they will sell it for a significant loss/unit.

      cheers to the longs
        JohnG

         
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    Posted: 15 September 2011 11:48 AM #7

    An iPad plus a BlueTooth keyboard come’s very close. If course I’m a writer so that would fulfill my needs. When I’m doing film editing I suspect I would need a bit more power and storage.

    How about a dock? You could use the iPad separately but when you snapped it into this dock you’d get additional processing power, additional RAM, USB and other ports, additional storage, etc. You’d still use the iPad screen, but would be able to drive a second, larger, monitor.

    I’m not sure if it would be better to go with a fixed “docking station” or a portable laptop form.

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  • Posted: 15 September 2011 01:20 PM #8

    History

    In 2006, every tablet had a stylus and several tablets had built in keyboards. Their sales were disappointing, to say the least.

    In 2007, Apple introduced the iPad. We don’t have a video of Steve Balmer laughing at the iPad the way he laughed at the iPhone, but I suspect that, in private, he did have a chuckle or two when he saw that the iPad was nothing more than a big iPod Touch. (He probably had a smirk on his face when he heard the ribald name, too.)

    Disruption

    One of the keys to a disruptive product is that it’s not seen as a threat until it’s established. Certainly, the iPad falls into those parameters. The pundits were unimpressed, to say the least. And the competition took a wait and see attitude. Too late they realized that the iPad was the real deal. Although everybody and his brother tried to create a me-too tablet device, the first legitimate tablet to appear on the scene was the Galaxy Tab in the fall of 2010. Most manufacturers didn’t even ANNOUNCE their tablets until CES, which was held in January of 2011.

    Two Questions

    The question we have to ask ourselves are two-fold. 1) Why did the iPad succeed when all earlier tablet attempts had failed? 2) Why didn’t the competition see the signs of greatness in the iPad and immediately start up their own tablet efforts?

    Success

    I would say that there were four main reasons for the iPad’s success. 1) Instant on; 2) longer battery life; 3) an existing infrastructure for creating and distributing applications; and 4) the touch operating system.

    Stealth

    Now let’s turn to our second question: “Why didn’t the competition see the signs of greatness in the iPad?” Surely they recognized the value of instant on. Even before the iPad’s debut, there were leaked Microsoft slideshows where they talked specifically about the importance of instant on. The competition couldn’t have been oblivious to the advantages of longer battery life. Even a child could understand it’s value. And Android, Windows Phone 7, QNX and webOS have continuously obsessed over how to catch up with Apple’s lead in Apps. Surely the competition knew the value of Apps. So why didn’t the competition see the iPad as a threat and even disparaged it?

    ‘Tell Me The Difference Between A Large Phone And A Tablet’-Eric Schmidt

    Touch Interface

    When looked at in that light, the reason why everyone dismissed the iPad was because they didn’t understand the importance of the touch user interface. I would contend that Microsoft still does not understand it.

    One Categories Weakness is Another Categories Strength

    If you read widely, as I do, you will see a seemingly endless steam of commentators who are baffled by the iPad’s success. “It doesn’t run real operating system.” “It’s crippled”. “It doesn’t have a real file system.” “It doesn’t work with a stylus or a mouse.” “It doesn’t run legacy applications.” “It’s underpowered.” “It’s ‘dumbed down’”.

    I contend that all of the reasons given above are why the iPad sailed under the radar for so long. Further, that all of these “weaknesses” are actually the underpinnings for the iPad’s success.

    Uncompromised

    The iPad is anything but a compromise. An example of a compromise would be the netbook. The price was lower, but the keyboard was smaller, the monitor was smaller, the storage was smaller and the processor was slower. In a compromise, you gain a little here, but you lose a little there.

    The iPad is not a compromise. It’s one hundred percent what it is and it only seeks to be the best at what it does.

    -The touch interface is intuitive. It is not a compromised mouse or stylus.
    -The portability is superb precisely because it doesn’t have a separate mouse, keyboard or stylus.
    -The battery life is outstanding because the tablets architecture is designed for low energy power consumption. Why the thing does not even get hot!
    -The view screen is large - almost as large as the tablet itself - because ALL functions are accomplished on a capacitive touch screen. No built in keyboard to eat up space. No extraneous buttons, wheels, levers or switches to eat up precious screen real estate.

    The Answers

    The reason the iPad succeeded was because it was a tablet in every way. It had no connection, no ties, no similarities in common with the traditional PC.

    The reason the iPad’s stellar qualities were overlooked was because it was a tablet in every way. It had no connection, no ties, no similarities in common with the traditional PC.

    Do you see what I’m getting at? The hybrid computer you seek cannot be done because the traditional PC and the tablet are two entirely different animals. The reason this is so hard to see is because they are both computers so we think they MUST be more similar than not. But it’s actually the other way around. It’s the similarities that are trivial and it’s the differences that are profound. The computer you seek would not be a hybrid. It would be a compromise. Apple wont’ do that. Microsoft is doing that right now.

    Apple Gets It

    If you agree with my thesis, don’t feel bad that you didn’t get it before today. None of Apple’s competitors got it. None of the Analysts got it. None of the pundits got it. I certainly didn’t get it. And Microsoft hasn’t gotten it still. It’s the genius of Apple that not only did they GET it, but they were able to go out and make it happen.

         
  • Posted: 15 September 2011 01:47 PM #9

    Excellent post Fallkirk.

    I think MS can’t make that intuitive leap to the tablet being a new, separate experience, because by doing so it’s almost an admission that all of their core products are now obsolete or at best need to be rethought to accommodate this new direction in computing.

    I think the coup de grace for PCs will be when iOS5 removes the need for a computer. LOTS of people have bought computers over the years because it was the only way to use the internet or type up a few things, or store their music. All of the rest of the things the computer could do were either too hard to do or worked poorly or were just ignored. Their smart phones have given them a taste of what their necessary computing life is (messaging, web, photos, email, games) and the Cloud will give them their storage.

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    Posted: 15 September 2011 02:29 PM #10

    This “hybrid” has been around in the PC world for many years. I think it’s commonly called a convertible laptop.

    If Apple ever chooses to build such a product, it would be an evolution of the MB Air rather than the iPad. Personally I think it could be a great improvement. It would expand functionality of the Air with minimal compromises (slight weight & thickness gain?).

    I know Steve has made disparaging comments about using a stylus with a tablet, but there are still many use cases where a stylus is very useful. He never said anything about using a stylus on a convertible MB Air.

    My guess is there are prototypes floating in some secret Apple lab. It’s just one of the many products they’ve said “no” to…at least for now. Remember the iPad was on a shelf for many years.

         
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    Posted: 15 September 2011 03:03 PM #11

    Falkirk, I both agree and disagree to a degree that the competition “didn’t get it”. I suspect MicroSoft got it but didn?t realise they had got it. I suspect all the rest did get it and were fearful of it. It’s like a beautiful woman coming into a room and all the lovely ladies there suddenly struck terrified. They get it. They are terrified to death of her and immediately hunt out any fault they can find with her. And quickly they disparage her. The smart ones ignore her and make appointments with the beauty parlour and their plastic surgeons.

    A little abstract, I know. But the fear was plainly in sight, man. MicroSoft and others (can’t remember to note) were ready with their designs prior to the unveiling of the iPad. By January (maybe before, I think) there were models, mock-ups and claim-ups of their devices. MicroSoft, upon seeing the iPad 1, pulled their funny looking contraption (I am being polite- wasn?t it the two screen monstrosity) so fast, even my breath was taken away.

    Naysaying, a Parlour Game
    What do we expect the competition to say? It is part of the culture to disparage others, lightly, indirectly, boldly. And disparage they did. It continues today. Look at the extravagant reviews of Windows 8 and the MS Tablet. (What a scary , awful looking site was the video I saw the other day, I can tell you! And it will continue tomorrow. It’s part of the enterprise culture.

    Regarding the MBA and iPad Conundrum.

    Well, the answer is simple but first the reasons it comes about.

    1. There are people who want to communicate and express through their fingers and need a keyboard. A pseudo keyboard won’t do. Carrying round a bluetooth keyboard won’t do. They are best served by the MBA at this point.

    2. There are people who want to communicate and express through their fingers and don’t’ demand to use a traditional keyboard. They use apps and sites, maybe voice. Maybe they are young enough and dexterous enough that the pseudo-keyboard meets their needs. They are best served by the iPad.

    The Future of the MBA-iPad
    The MBA has come along way since its first iteration and I don’t think we have seen the last major iterations for this puppy. I suspect and hope that the MBA becomes the iPad with a physical keyboard. It would be bigger, bulkier (in relative terms) and pricier. Importantly, the competition can?t seem to meet the specs (I?m talking the specs of subtlety) or price or quality and functionality.

    MicroSoft is blind and in a different position from the rest. It truly lacks imagination and has had a thing about Tablets for over ten years now. I have pontificated on this before but MS truly believes it invented the thing and defined the thing and no one else has the right to build the thing differently from their definition. And they are going to do it their way. Thus the elephant out of the closet we saw a day or so ago.

    The rest have all emulated the iPad, in shape, form and factor. They got it. They just can’t get it right. They know why. We know why. But they must try until they run out of greenbacks. Yes they have no bananas and the bananas or eco system(s) that Apple has been developing and perfecting for more than a decade now, they know they can’t hatch tomorrow, if ever. It took how long for Apple to perfect its ecosystem(s)? And they haven?t finished yet.

    I Agree and Disagree

    FalKirk said: Do you see what I?m getting at? The hybrid computer you seek cannot be done because the traditional PC and the tablet are two entirely different animals.

    I so do agree, exponentially, though I would note that nothing is impossible.

    This gets tiring to state but here goes and here is where I agree with you.

    There are Mainframe Computers, Desktop Computers, Laptop Computers, PDA Computers, Tablet Computers, Pod Computers, Netbook Computers, Ultralight Computers, Phone Computers, Pad Computers, and maybe their will be an UltralightPad computer some day soon. (I may have got the order wrong and missed some computer type.)

    Where I exponentially agree is that the Pad Computer and Tablet computer are two different styles of computers in much the same way that Laptops are different from Netbooks.

    Where I disagree is that I think the MBA will evolve and become very much like a fully functioning Pad with an attached, hinged keyboard and thereby form its own cubicle in the space of the computer universe.

    I, for one, know the iPad will never meet my needs, yet I love and cherish it for what it does so splendidly. If I was a spendthrift, I?d have one yesterday. So I shall await the MBApad and if it doesn?t come by 2013, I?ll get what ever wonderful iteration of MBA is available. My dog, the MacBook, is getting awful long in the tooth.

    I’m back to fix a typing error or two. And to Add.
    I am dumfounded by how poorly informed and thoughtful some reviewers are. Your points, FalKirk about reviewers not getting the iPad are so correct! It astounds me, too. That the iPad is not a fully stuffed computer like the Thanksgiving turkey is so on! I’m sure reviewers of the times thought the Desktop computer a poor imitation of the Mainframe and didn’t get it. Though some of the most prolific reviewers (our friend John Dvorak) can write well, they fail to see the writing on the metaphoric wall in front of them.

    [ Edited: 15 September 2011 03:23 PM by mhikl ]

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  • Posted: 16 September 2011 12:07 AM #12

    Drew Bear - 15 September 2011 05:29 PM

    If Apple ever chooses to build such a product, it would be an evolution of the MB Air rather than the iPad. Personally I think it could be a great improvement. It would expand functionality of the Air with minimal compromises.

    Agreed, a hybrid would become the flagship of the MacBook line.  The name for it seems obvious:  the MacBook Touch.  Apple would still sell other MacBooks, but the MacBook Touch would increasingly take the lion’s share of sales.

    Would the MacBook Touch replace the iPad?  yes and no

    For the average consumer, the MacBook Touch would replace the iPad and the MacBook.  That’s the whole point of the product. 

    But the iPad would continue to sell briskly, mostly to people who couldn’t afford a MacBook Touch, and for more limited purposes like kiosks, point-of-sale, some medical and educational uses, etc.

         
  • Posted: 16 September 2011 12:37 AM #13

    FalKirk - 15 September 2011 04:20 PM

    The reason the iPad’s stellar qualities were overlooked was because it was a tablet in every way. It had no connection, no ties, no similarities in common with the traditional PC.

    Do you see what I’m getting at? The hybrid computer you seek cannot be done because the traditional PC and the tablet are two entirely different animals. The reason this is so hard to see is because they are both computers so we think they MUST be more similar than not. But it’s actually the other way around. It’s the similarities that are trivial and it’s the differences that are profound. The computer you seek would not be a hybrid. It would be a compromise. Apple wont’ do that. Microsoft is doing that right now.

    To add to this, what Apple has done is similar to removing a floppy drive from the computers so that the users migrate to the new concept. In this case, it is the app designers who are being migrated to the touch, with an iron glove. When you have a hybrid environment, how many people will be motivated to develop “touch” apps when you can just port or test your existing app to run in the non-touch environment ... which we all know is going to suck CPU. And given that the Windows-touch paradigm will be known to less people (compared to iOS), their best practices might be copied from iOS and may not have the Windows/Metro look and feel. Overall, WYSWYG ... frankenstein not only in name.

         
  • Posted: 16 September 2011 01:20 AM #14

    Hariharan P - 16 September 2011 03:37 AM

    To add to this, what Apple has done is similar to removing a floppy drive from the computers so that the users migrate to the new concept. In this case, it is the app designers who are being migrated to the touch, with an iron glove. When you have a hybrid environment, how many people will be motivated to develop “touch” apps when you can just port or test your existing app to run in the non-touch environment ... which we all know is going to suck CPU. And given that the Windows-touch paradigm will be known to less people (compared to iOS), their best practices might be copied from iOS and may not have the Windows/Metro look and feel. Overall, WYSWYG ... frankenstein not only in name.

    Gruber made this point too in “The Talk Show” podcast. Apple didn’t give developers a choice. “You’re going to develop for iOS from scratch. That’s all there is to it.”

    [ Edited: 16 September 2011 02:10 PM by FalKirk ]      
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    Posted: 16 September 2011 12:30 PM #15

    Apple would not have to do much to make the iPad more business-worthy (which is totally hypothetical, unless Tim Cook decides to override certain Jobsian philosophies).

    1. The hardest part, vis a vis engineering is to graft an active digitizer onto the IPAD. yeah, I know, thicker, more power, blah, blah, blah… Make it a snap-on option via bluetooth or universal connector.

    2. Enable a file system and file transfer features between iPads, Macs and Windows WITHOUT iTunes. We know this works fine already if you jailbreak.

    3. Enable a wired NIC.

    That’d be a great start. I think the os and apps are OK as is. If I could use a stylus for precision in drawing and writing, and then share my notes and drawings, it would be a success as both the traditional iPad (opiate of the masses) and as a business tool.

    These are the primary reasons I prefer my Slate 500 to an iPad. Otherwise, I choose Apple whenever I have a choice.

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