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

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.