The iPad Early Analysis: Apple Impresses but Doesn’t Change the World

Apple-3Some caveats. First, all of my opinions here are subject to change as more is unveiled. More on that in a minute. Second, while I’m sure I and any GBM Team will be accused of Microsoft bias, let me state upfront I wanted this device to be an brilliant and sudden change in what we all know. Caveats out of the way, here is my anaylsis on what we’ve just learned.

Apple’s new iPad impresses, but no more, no less than any of its other products. They’ve created another Tablet that will bring along all of Apple’s ecosystem and for many that will be enough. But there was a lot left unsaid in my opinion. I’m not just talking about unfulfilled rumors, but all along during the presentation I got the feeling that we’re seeing a great Generation 1 device that offers promise. Other Tablet folks caught a breather today but they’ve got a very narrow window within which to step up and get in the game.

Other thoughts:

The $499 starting price point is huge. It will get these devices in people’s hands. Intriguing that we’ll pay $130 for a 3G radio if you want WiFi and 3G.

The couch/sofa that was the principal set piece seemed forced after awhile and I found it really revealing that using the onscreen virtual keyboard the demonstrators placed this in their lap like a laptop.

Also intriguing Apple introduced a keyboard dock, which in many quarters will be seen as a blessing, but tells me that Apple is hedging its bets a bit on the entire approach. Apple could have said no physical keyboard, like on the iPhone, but their research is probably telling them not to. The dock will also charge the iPad. No price on that, but we’ll hear soon enough.

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Apple is going after the Kindle no question, along with anyone else who is jumping on eBooks. They’ve got there own bookstore now called iBooks. (Isn’t that a recycled name?) Color is the name of the day and the pictures looked good from what I saw.

There’s a lot left to learn about content and how this will work with publishers in various media genres. This will be key I think.

Apple is still tying you to your computer through USB. Given that we’ll have WiFi and if you choose 3G, I’m sure the advances away from docking to a comptuer that we’ve seen on the iPhone and iPod Touch will be in play, but you’re still not completely independent of your computer.

Apple made some inroads on breaking the Telco mess as we won’t need another contract for AT&T 3G. AT&T at the moment is the only carrier, which I am sure is causing howls of disappointment. I’m sure many MiFi owners are saying I’ll pass on the 3G (you’ll have to wait longer if you want it). $29.99 for unlimited means 5GB in today’s vernacular. $14.99 for 250mb is not worth mentioning for a media consumption device.

The iPad is powered by the Apple A4, a 1GHz ARM-based CPU powers the iPad. It will be interesting to hear more about this.

This is a consumption device. You can view video but not create it.  There is no camera of any kind on this device. While there was a nice demo of the Brushes app during the presentation showing how to sketch pictures, you won’t be doing any video on this device, or taking pictures. Speaking of pictures, if you want to use this as a giant picture frame to show off your latest, you’ll have to do some syncing back to that computer or from the cloud.

Apparently there is no multi-tasking. That will be a huge, repeat, huge turn off for many.

Again, these are early thoughts subject to revision. I think we’ve got an interesting new device from a very clever innovator. But Apple doesn’t own it all. Yet.

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Comments

  1. Luc says

    Which feature is so impressive? It’s more expensive, less resolution, slower cpu and thick bevel compared to a netbook. And where’s the webcam?

    Full specs are here: http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/ and note that it can only play MP4 up to 2.5Mbps… Hardly HD device.

    I’m rather looking forward to the Viliv S10: great sharp screen with multi-touch, keyboard, 2.0 CPU, SSD drive, SD slot, runs windows 7, 30% more resolution than Apple and battery is just as good.

  2. smh says

    The data plan is the only thing that is good about this product.

    All other thing are just a reminder of all the problems that have been discussed as long a the tablet(red. tablet pc) has existed.

    What microsoft could do was to make a dedicated operative system for the tablet pc – one that has a new user interface/user control. Functionality of the current windows OS lineup is where it needs to be, the only thing that is needed is a new way on navigating – something like
    InkSeine.

  3. Warner Crocker says

    @ethlbault There is no Inking.

    @Luc for those who want this kind of device for media consumption it will be a great device. No feature stands out for me. But Apple’s products are great products. I see no reason that this will be different.

    @smh great wisdom in your comment.

  4. Zach says

    That data plan would be intriguing offered as a dongle for the MacBook Pro lineup. I thought that’s where we were going when they showed the dongle slide briefly.

    The AT&T thing is the deal breaker for me. AT&T is the worst carrier in the United States. Until Apple gets with the program and offers a Verizon-compatible device (the best carrier, bar none, based on real world experience from real people), then they are just hamstringing themselves. I am month-to-month on my Verizon contract now, but I refuse to leave that network for AT&T’s, even though I badly want an iPhone.

    The iPad, though, is a niche product akin to the MacBook Air. We will be looking back on today in two to three years and wondering what all the fuss was about.

  5. Luc says

    Does it compete with a netbook or a kindle? Seems rather a netbook and in which media would it do better?
    HD Video specs are disappointing so I guess that leaves web browsing and ebook reading. And I haven’t heard/seen features yet that beat the competition.

  6. Bob says

    JimL:
    1) No Flash: IIRC, in Jobs’ demo of the iPad, a website with Flash content couldn’t play the Flash.

    2) Probably no Netflix yet: as recently as September 2009, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that “nothing in the short term” was happening with movie watching and the iPhone. The iPad runs a modified iPhone OS, so that’s as close an answer as I could find.

  7. tivoboy says

    I think the data plan is telling. I think this is going to be a new price point in the MARKETPLACE for data. We’ve heard some talk about AT&T doing something like this, it could be applicable soon to other devices. Also, the NO CONTRACT is a key new offering in the marketplace and might become more a trend.

    I think the biggest misses for this device (granted I want one though) are no cameras, no bluetooth (no headsets or wireless keyboards) no external I/O, so hard to get data on the device other than itunes transfer, no MULTI-TASKING, this is key. there is just no way I am going to forgo a laptop and carry just this if I cannot have BROWSER open and MAIL open, etc. MAYBE they will make some new offering in the future OS 4.0 and simply didn’t want to TIP THEIR HAND today. Also, having the current iphone OS essentially, this means no ARD (apple remote desktop) for now, sure other products can do this, but I would like be in another place and have direct access to my REAL computer at home or such. I think that could make it a much better product.

  8. C J says

    I use my brother in highschool and his friends as a guerilla focus group when it comes to announcements like this.

    World changer? This isn’t even a game changer. This isn’t even the right game. This doesn’t even know what the game is.

    This reminds me of all of the UMPC nonsense. More solutions looking for a problem. In the end, this device has a very narrow market. Who’s actually going to buy, keep, use, and enjoy this? It’s a device for very few people.

    Usually Apple leans on it’s fanbase/early-adopters to subsidize a device into its second genreation. I doubt this will make it that far.

    Or as my little bro said: “FAIL. Do not want.”

    I’ll reserve judgement until I get to smear my fingerprints all over it.

  9. Mickey Segal says

    I ran this by my 13 year old daughter, who already has an Apple laptop and an early iPod Touch that she is looking to upgrade. She didn’t see the iPad as even a good upgrade to the iPod Touch since it is missing the features she wanted on an iPod Touch upgrade. And the other features of the iPad she already has on her laptop. Her conclusion is to wait for a device that adds more capabilities.

    I agree with Jobs’ assessment that there are different niches for size of electronic devices, but implicit in his model of 3 niches is the notion that one will want all 3. I think people are more likely to want as few as they need, and iPad 1.0 doesn’t seem like it will be a must buy for many people.

    If iPad 2.0 is more like a full laptop and docks to a big screen, mouse, and keyboard it will make a lot of sense as a laptop replacement that also gives mobility.

  10. Absolutely NoOne says

    So… ummm, where does this fit into the grand scheme of things? Remember that article about how many devices you’ll carry around, the answer being normally 3: a phone, a camera, and a laptop. And this thing fills none of those slots.
    It’s actually kind of sad, with all of the hype and everything.

  11. Ben says

    Its just a larger version of an iphone. I mean, really, if you have an iphone, you don’t need this. Apple flopped on this one.

  12. Will says

    As a long time Apple user, i don’t see any reason to get this… It’s really a gadget for consumers… Not something for creative people… Fail indeed!

  13. Antimatter says

    I have a question about that keyboard deal. Will you be able to connect a mouse to it? Or are you expected to reach up and use your fingers to navigate the OS? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a dock?

  14. Warner Crocker says

    @antimatter: That is an excellent question. But there is Bluetooth available so we’ll have to find out if that profile will work with a mouse, magic or otherwise.

    @Danny: From what I’m seeing, quite a few folks. Quite honestly, I’d rather see a new device have folks lined up in two opposing camps screaming “I hate it” or “I love it”, then folks saying “Meh”. We’ve got all of that at the moment and I think the jury will be out until folks start getting these in their hands.

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