Monthly Archives: January 2010

The new iPad: an experiment, at best

I’m an Apple fan and self-admitted power user/rationalizing Apple-aholic, but it took the iPhone development a full two years of maturity (in both hardware and OS design) to make me a buyer. It appears the iPad is taking a similar path. I would expect more innovation in the software on its release, building on nearly 3 years’ knowledge base following the initial release of the iPhone, but even in its current state (an iPod Touch with a larger physical form factor) with little change to the software, the device could prove useful in a number of niche applications.

Perhaps its original target as a high-end “Kindle killer” with multimedia capability holds sufficient promise to launch the product. In this limited view, there is at least an existing e-reader market, though the iPad is far outside the current market in terms of pricing. By comparison, the iPhone was not a BlackBerry killer when it first launched, and Steve Jobs clearly stated it was not trying to compete in this arena (implying–yet). While sorely lacking in basic smartphone (and even some basic plain-phone) utility at the time, the iPhone was revolutionary as a portable gaming and media device. As such, it flew out the door to the tune of millions of units worldwide.

As an oversized iPod Touch, the iPad is actually better suited than its smaller brother for a number of potential uses: ideal car-computer for telematics and entertainment as a center console and back-of-headrest display, interactive home theater/control remote, countless commercial and industrial custom applications, etc. What surprises me most about the specs of the device is the oversight of the hardware/industrial design which compromises the expansion of use as applications follow on its release. This is particularly surprising since Apple usually nails this aspect and is often regarded, even among its critics, as creating beautifully elegant and minimalistic though functional hardware. Maybe Apple excluded its normal set of “out of the box” thinkers when defining interfaces and constraints at its early high-level design meetings on this one. Continue reading