Saturday, January 30, 2010
iPad scorecard and some thoughtsThe iPad is finally out. If I look at my predictions of six months ago, I think I scored pretty high. I should start investing in the stock market or play the lotto ;-)
Things I got right:
- the name iPad. I had some doubts, but they actually picked the name I suspected in August. Too bad for the jokes, they might just add some color to its success (or lack thereof)
- built on the iPhone OS vs. Mac OS
- one button device
- price point "around $599, maybe even less". It starts at $499, which surprised many
- wi-fi and 3G, but with wi-fi more prevalent and 3G as an afterthought. Let's check back in a year and see how many bought the 3G models: I bet wi-fi will beat 3G by 80% vs. 20%
- lack of webcamera. I can't believe it. It prevents me to give it to my mom, who is the perfect buyer for the device (but she can't live without videochat). I am so shocked that I think they will add it shortly (check the image on the right from the actual iPad, the address book app supports taking pictures...). Maybe even in the first release in March. A "one more thing" delayed joke
- the holder on the portrait side. If this is a video device, I just do not understand why I can't watch videos when the device is charging. I don't get it. May I repeat it: I don't get it. Still, it would not be a good reason not to buy the device
I thought "Kindle-killer" was the easiest one. Look at the New York Times demo they gave. Astonishing. The newspaper is so good looking, you want to throw away the paper for good. When they show the picture in the middle of the page becoming a video, you realize the Harry Potter newspaper is not far. This is the future of newspapers. The best of both worlds: a full page with articles, with the articles being alive.
Instead, they positioned it as "the best way to experience the web, email and photos". Books and newspapers are not mentioned in the tag line, not even video. Email is. Email??? Email???????? Email is dead, it is a relic in the enterprise. Social networks are the future of messaging. That is what kids do. Email is not a consumer feature anymore. The iPad is for consumers, right?
More: they talked about iWorks. Who do you think would work on a spreadsheet sitting on the couch? Anyone in the enterprise? Holding the device with one hand? Why? Why???
There is always a why. Steve Jobs knows the market better than anyone. Definitely better than me.
However, there have been times when I was right and he was wrong. When he positioned the web as the ultimate SDK for the iPhone, for example. I said "no way, developers won't go for it, not now, it is too early". He announced an SDK a few months later... A super U-turn. And the SDK is what made the iPhone the success it is. The App Store is what makes the difference today with other OSs. The super U-turn made the difference.
Or maybe he was not wrong. He knew it, but they were not ready with an SDK. He was just pretending there was no need because they could not deliver it.
What is clear is that he did not position the iPad against the Kindle. Probably because he believes that is just a niche. He positioned it against the netbooks. At the top of the netbooks price range, as Apple usually does.
Netbooks are not bought by you and me (unless you are a geek who needs two laptops). They are bought by people that have a desktop and need something to move around their data. Or that do not even have a desktop.
In that category:
- my daughter (7 years old). She loves my iPhone. She will prefer an iPad over a netbook a million times. She is the perfect user for it. It does everything she likes (browsing, watching pictures, gaming). And she does not have to sit on a chair to use it, which kids rarely like
- my mom (more than 60 years old). She loves my iPhone. Same as above, only that she cares about browsing, watching pictures, email and video Skype. The lack of the camera kills it, but as I wrote above, it is going away in no-time.
- my wife (less than 40 years old). She has a laptop and she would not give it up (it is a Mac, btw). However, what she does on that device is browsing, email, social networks, pictures and music, plus video Skype. She also reads books and the New Yorker. She has only one spreadsheet, which would be easily managed by the iPad. She won't buy one, until her laptop breaks. But when it does, she will be ready. She even bought a thing recently to be able to use her laptop on the couch. If you have that thing around in the house, it means you are also ready for the iPad
The iPad is a new paradigm of human-computer interaction. The desktop is gone. The folders are gone. The documents live inside the app. The device transforms itself in the object it becomes. It is a non-object. It is what you want it to be. One touch on an icon, it is a calculator. No folders, no files, just numbers as if you were holding a calculator. One touch and it is a notepad. One touch and it is a picture frame. It is the future of computing.
The iPad is the replacement of the home desktop computer.
Look at your parents staring at a computer. They can't do double-click. They will never master it. They do not like the mouse. Look at how they never really understood the folder metaphor. They are scared in front of the machine. Clicking with panic. Always at a distance. No love. Just need.
Now give them an iPad. No panic. No fears. They will touch everything. It is so easy. So fast. With my fingers! And when I am wrong, just one click at the one button and it is back home. Safely. A pleasure to use.
The rest is left for us geeks. The concept of operating systems, folders, Unix, everything we learned. Forget IT Managers for the home, it is going away (now we'll need network managers :-)
Bottom line: whatever pundits say, the iPad is going to be the start of a revolution. I have a feeling it won't sell in large quantities, but it is going to fill a niche after another. Those that want interactive books in color, then gadget freaks, then kids, then moms, then grandparents. Year after year, Apple will improve the device and make sure all the niches will be served.
The iPad is the future of computing for the masses, as the iPhone has pushed the mobile computing model to what it is today. Thanks to the iPhone, 66% of phones sold by Verizon last quarter were smartphones (not even one iPhone). The iPhone showed the world what people could do with a small tablet with one button, connected to the mobile network outside the home. The iPad is going to do the same, inside your house.
Trust me, I am good at playing the lotto.
Posted by Fabrizio at 10:55
Email is not dead. I think I thought so after reading many things on the web. It is not used anymore as an information channel, but it is the most used tool for notification.
I have never found number about the number of email sent by facebook for example, but this is why facebook works so well. Email, email, email all day long.
I do agree with all the rest, but working in social2.0 environment I can tell we underestimate the power of email for notification (not news)
Comment Posted at 13:47
Visionary as usual...and this blog at its best! Thanks. L8
Comment Posted at 13:57
Gabriele Barni said...
Fabrizio 4 President!
Comment Posted at 16:53
Good point Fabrizio: I was thinking about the folder metaphor since I started using my iPhone.
Now I know I can live without folders, at least while I'm on the go.
Ok, now we need your lotto numbers on a regular basis... ;)
Comment Posted at 07:43
F, great comments.. and I am confident that you will be mostly correct. The folder metaphor makes sense when you want to file multiple types of "things" associated in a task/project context.
We still have challenges in the world of linkages. Contacts can and should live in your contacts, but how do we link them to a group of people with a common project. We create email lists, but miss easily shared calendars and other ppt's, documents and lists that they need to share.
Much like long ago in the days of DOS, applications most easily exist as islands. Despite the love/hate (likely mostly hate) relationship most of us have with outlook, there just has not been another good enterprise or personal communication+calendar application.
Social networks still feel pretty clumsy in managing groups efficiently.. And the controls over segmenting out farm-ville and other spurious communication from the important updates needs an apple-like user experience.. Orchestrating setting up a meeting with a group of people, group communication and shared resources are still pretty poor from my personal experience.
I think the ipad can redefine the laptop and reader. The landscape charge port is needed, as is a mac-book like bottom optionally docked with it. Then you have a no-compromises option to have a single device that serves laptop text editing and pad-like use.
But how quickly does the lack of a folder metaphor come and bite you?? Humans like to group and associate things (even my 72 year old mom like to file things) While I'm a huge fan of search helping unshackle us from folderering.. do we end up loosing something by not being able to bring the output of many apps predictably grouped into a shared folder?
I agree the camera was an amazing miss for what looks like well thought out device, it remains to be seen if the app centered approach without a folder metaphor will be like the challenge like missing cut and paste. It seems, that the folder-less option is always there, storing documents by application..
Do you think the OS choce could have challenges with ease of multi-task/multi app use on the larger device? Unlike the smaller iphone, it seems very likely on the large ipad that we'll want to use the screen canvas for more than one app at a time. While you hit some of the best features of the ipad, you did not acknowledge this challenge. Since the advent of the GUI, the window metaphor has been greatly valued, allowing the user to choose what content gets co-displayed and not be limited to how publishers and app developers chose to do it. While the ipad looks amazing, I cannot imagine my 10 year old or my 12 year old daughters, my wife or I being restricted to viewing one window or app at a time.. this makes sense on the itouch or ipod with a small screen but not on a larger screened device, where we work on things like researching and writing at the same time.
Comment Posted at 11:15
the folder metaphor is not gone. It is inside the app. Every app has its own folder metaphor, but one specific, not generic. Think about iPhoto: your folder is the album where you file your pictures. But it feels a lot more natural than the abstraction at the OS level (and you can view it per year, name, location and so on). Same for iTunes, it is your library but you can view it per artist, album, genre and so on.
On multitasking, the iPad does it. As the iPhone does it. Only the thing that make sense to run in the background do, however. Like music, or alerts for various apps.
On the iPad, I expect two apps to split the screen. Like email and calendar, to add appointments. But pushing it to the dock and switching among apps makes the interface polluted and confusing (not for me, for the other 90% of the world). It is a sacrifice, but what you lose in feature, you gain in usability.
I can give the iPad to my mom and tell her how to use it in 30 seconds (max). Try that with Mac OS, as easy as it is. It is still tough.
Comment Posted at 11:45
Are you really saying that for ease of use we should take away capability, or should we just hide complexity from people that don't want or need it? I totally agree that you want a UI that is simple for the novice to immediately use.. and remains simple to use for all! Universally the best design is where this is achieved.
The challenge remains that the most elegantly defined tools get this way by specializing.
Given that some of us want fewer devices (and chargers, and cables ugggh..) The beauty of the iphone was that it achieved simplicity on a converged device (phone/media/messaging/games & apps.. and as you noted raised the bar and made blackberry and others understand that it could be achieved).
I likely can live without folders.. it does seems like the ability to group photo's and music files when I'm planning a slide show is a simple example of when the app that I'm combining the media in will take care of this cross app grouping..
I guess we'll see if the restrictions on the device impede it's success or help them.. I know that the lack of a keyboard was a weakness for Palm until the treo.. I'll likely be unpopular for saying that I'd LOVE a slide out keyboard iphone so I can have the full screen and keyboard when composing a message!
I hope we get a flexible windowing mode on the ipad.. I really value having windows visible at the same time, and would prefer to carry the ipad without missing my laptop..
Comment Posted at 12:16
> The iPad is a new paradigm of human-computer interaction. The desktop is gone. The folders are gone. The documents live inside the app. The device transforms itself in the object it becomes. It is a non-object. It is what you want it to be. One touch on an icon, it is a calculator. No folders, no files, just numbers as if you were holding a calculator. One touch and it is a notepad. One touch and it is a picture frame. It is the future of computing.
Uh? Who said PalmOS? ;-)
Comment Posted at 12:44
Boris Kraft said...
You absolutely nailed it. There are more brilliant observations in this blog post than what most of the newspapers combined have come up with.
Comment Posted at 23:36
Great post, thanks. A few comments:
I'm not sure how you mean "multitasking" in this context. One of the main complaints about the iPad is its inability to run apps simultaneously.
I agree that the (first-generation) iPad will appeal to older folks, but on the other end of the spectrum, I can see most kids (other than very young ones) becoming bored very quickly with the iPad if they can't IM, listen to music, and surf the Web at the same time.
While I'm sure Apple will add a camera at some point, I don't see it happening with the first-gen devices that will ship in March. The "Take Photo" etc. items in Address Book are probably there because the app was ported directly from the iPhone...
Ideally, I would love to have one. But in the real world, I won't be buying, for all the common Apple reasons: It simply doesn't do enough to justify the cost. I only have so much money I can spend on devices, and something like the iPad -- which works well and looks gorgeous but is a closed ecosystem that you can't tinker with or customize -- just doesn't do enough useful things well enough to justify the price.
(I understand why the default behaviour of Apple products is "easy to use but closed" given its target audience. But there's no reason other than profit motive to not make the device open and allow people the option of tinkering.)
Comment Posted at 01:31
@Boris, thanks you made my day :-)
@durakje, there is nobody that wants to tinker with gadgets more than me. I am the ultimate open source hacker ;-) However, tinkering is for geeks and my mom prefers something that works to something I can tinker with (and screw up for her). I know it is sad, but it is what it is.
Do I wish Apple was open? Well, check my blog. I believe they eventually will pay for being close. But being close makes it a lot easier to manage, when you are looking at the non-geek population.
Comment Posted at 08:17
You almost said it, just not in so many words.
"iPad is not positioned against Kindle/Amazon, it is positioned against ChromeOS/Google"