Apple: “iPad Can Do Thousands of things a tablet PC or e-reader can’t”

Apple’s done a great job selling the iPad to the masses and I’ll probably end up with one someday, but the hyperbole in all of their marketing messages is really starting to tick me off. As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

It’s one thing for Apple to tout its device as magical, amazing, spectacular, etc., but I completely disagree with how the company is telling consumers that the iPad has ‘the best’ device for a number of tasks without any qualifications or disclaimers.

Yesterday, we mentioned Apple’s new iPad Guided Tours, which are full of claims that I think Apple will have a hard time backing up.

A family member wanted to learn more about the iPad, so I visited Google to find some links for her. To my surprise, the description of Apple’s iPad features page states that the “iPad can do thousands of things a tablet PC or e-reader can’t.”

I assume Apple’s lawyers vetted the statement about Tablet PCs well and came to the conclusion that the iPad can run iPhone OS  apps and therefore DOES do a bunch of stuff that Tablet PCs can”t, but I find it disingenuous. Apple’s statement about Tablet PCs is only found in the iPad Feature’s page metadata, which means it only shows up in search engine results and is invisible to visitors to Apple.com.

If Apple’s going to attack tablet PCs with a strong marketing message I wish the company would have the nerve to back up its claim, or at least make the claim visible to people that are shopping for iPads. I’m all for highlighting features and tangible consumer benefits, but making bold claims and then ducking away from them when users click through from Google to Apple is just lame.  How about some solid examples of what the iPad can do that a tablet can’t?

There are going to be some very happy Apple customers this Saturday when they finally get their hands on their very own iPads, but there are also going to be some very disappointed individuals who find that their iPads aren’t living up to impossible expectations. They’ll see that the web just isn’t the same without Flash, that their Mac or PC is a much better device for writing email and that the iPad will not run for 10 hours on a single charge while playing video.

Using Apple’s logic, the Tablet PC can do millions of things the iPad can’t. But that doesn’t mean a tablet, much less a high-end tablet, is the right choice for everyone. Consumers should be presented with facts and not baseless claims when making major purchases.

41 Comments

  1. Uncle Mikey

    03/30/2010 at 12:24 pm

    While I recognize I’m part of a minority in this regard, I really do find the lack of Flash a complete non-issue. I’ve never once missed it on my iPhone, and I really doubt that I’ll miss it on the iPad. I’ll grant that some of this is a question of what one uses the Web for. For the most part, I don’t use it for video sites, for example, because I find the experience painful no matter what my local bandwidth. I also don’t play any of the casual, often Flash-based games that are so popular.

    That said, I also don’t agree with the people who think that HTML5 makes Flash a non-issue. I mean, I would prefer to see HTML5 take over the world, simply because it’s an open standard as opposed to Adobe’s closed one. But it’s not going to happen over-night, if at all, simply because there’s already too much Flash-based content out there.

    Apple, while often stubborn and strange, has also demonstrated many times in the past the ability to bend with the wind. If they get enough market back-pressure about the Flash issue, I think you’ll see the tables turn.

    Reply

    • Jeremy Orion

      03/30/2010 at 12:48 pm

      I agree that the lack of flash is a non-issue, but that might just be a personal preference. I have plugins installed on my browsers to block flash content as it is, and I rarely feel the need to turn flash off. I also don’t miss it when I’m using my iPhone/iPod to browse the web.

      Check out Ted.com’s implementation of HTML5 for video when using the site from an iPhone. It works just as well and doesn’t require the resources that Flash does.

      One thing to keep in mind is that the absence of Flash is intentional. It’s not like Apple forgot, or didn’t have the technical ability.

      Reply

    • Mickey Segal

      03/30/2010 at 12:55 pm

      If Apple releases a second type of slate that is a real computer, as has been rumored, people would have the choice of both models: the open model with Flash and the closed model with only App Store programs. The only one I’d want is the open model, but others who want a Kindle+ type of device would want the iPad. It makes some sense to release the lesser device first.

      In this context, it is interesting that a non-Apple entity has a Web page at http://www.iPad.com, but there is nothing at http://www.iSlate.com, and the Web domain is held by a company that appears to be holding it for Apple, as detailed at http://www.thedomains.com/2009/12/25/reports-apple-to-name-its-coming-tablet-computer-islate-com/ .

      Reply

    • ChrisRS

      03/30/2010 at 3:08 pm

      When I am browsing the net I have no control over how the sites I view are created. There are work/business related sites I use with flash based content. Viewing these sites with an iPad will not be better thanwitha PC or TabletPC (or netbook).

      Reply

  2. Jeremy Orion

    03/30/2010 at 12:42 pm

    I disagree with your point about what Apple includes in their search metadata v. what is on their actual page. While the exact terminology is different, even a brief perusal of Apple.com/ipad finds the same point being made in greater detail:

    “All of the built-in apps on iPad were designed from the ground up to take advantage of the large Multi-Touch screen and advanced capabilities of iPad. And they work in any orientation. So you can do things with these apps that you can’t do on any other device.” – http://www.apple.com/ipad/features/

    They then lay out a variety of iPad-specific applications and features that you can’t do on any other tablet. What “do” here means is important. Apple’s claim isn’t as simple as saying “you can do action X (browsing photos, for example) on the iPad and not on a tablet”. It’s more sophisticated that that. Their claim is that you can (browse pictures) in a such a way on the iPad that it creates an experience that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. I think they are right about that.

    Any one who is actually trying to research a purchasing decision about the iPad isn’t going to look at the search meta data and say to themselves “Oh, 1000 more things. Sold.” Consumers are smarter than that.

    Moreover, hyperbole is nothing new in marketing (another thing consumers are aware of and familiar with), and Apple certainly isn’t the only Tech company who participates in it. Does anyone who sees an ad for a PS3 really think that “it does everything” as Sony claims? No. In this comparison, Apple’s claim is by far the more defensible position.

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/30/2010 at 1:05 pm

      Apple makes some excellent devices and I own several of them, but I’m just not a fan of how they’re marketing it to consumers as being flat out better than a Tablet PC without clearly backing it up. The UI and experience may be better, but where the heck are the thousands of things that I can do on an iPad that I can’t do on a tablet?
      Do I think consumers are smart? Yes, but unfortunately they sometimes only hear what they’re told. And I’m sure that some of these marketing messages will lead to a lot of misinformation about Tablet PCs.

      Reply

      • Jeremy Orion

        03/30/2010 at 1:26 pm

        The UI and the Experience is exactly what I think Apple means when they refer to the things you can’t do on a Tablet PC. That was largely my point – sure you can browse pictures or the internet on a Tablet, but you can’t have the picture or web browsing experience that you would get from an iPad. I will admit that it’s a stretch of the word “do”, but I think that Apple has always emphasized the UI and Experience as being what sets them apart.

        Reply

        • Brett Gilbertson

          03/31/2010 at 7:01 pm

          Jeremy, do you speak for apple? Good luck with the launch of your new product…

          If not, i’m amazed that you can compare a product that you’ve never used to one that you’ve never used…

          PS, this comment written in my own handwriting at 40 wpm from the passenger seat a moving car… try that an a virtual keyboard (which I also have on my Tablet PC)!

          Reply

          • Jeremy Orion

            04/03/2010 at 5:49 pm

            Brett,

            I don’t speak for Apple, but if you followed the conversation (which, clearly you didn’t) you would have understood that I was trying to place a highly informed guess at what Apple meant by their marketing. It wasn’t a statement about the iPad. It was a statement about how Apple is marketing the iPad

            I don’t need to have used an iPad to look at the marketing and have an opinion about that marketing.

            I can type plenty fast on my iPhone’s virtual keyboard, as well as my Droid’s virtual keyboard. Might not be 40 wpm, but then again I almost never need to write anything that requires that when I’m in the passenger seat of a car. I’d would more likely be reading or helping the driver navigate by looking at a map – both things that the iPad provides a far superior experience with (yes, I have used one, and I have used a tablet PC as well).

      • Uncle Mikey

        03/30/2010 at 4:04 pm

        I probably should have said that, while I disagree with your comments on Flash, I do agree with your basic stance here. The iPad is an enticing device for me for several reasons — including longstanding disappointment with the Tablet PC experience — but Apple’s hype is nigh unto embarrassing and definitely turning a lot of folks off entirely.

        Reply

    • ChrisRS

      03/30/2010 at 3:11 pm

      “Thousands of thing more” is a pretty bold statement. Apple should be prepared to back it up. The “headline” should raeally be expanded on and explained. Not run away from.

      Reply

  3. Absolutely NoOne

    03/30/2010 at 12:56 pm

    Yes, because everyone knows that a lack of Firefox and Flash makes the best browsing experience EVAR!

    I must say, the whole iPad thing has made me furious. Maybe not so angry at Apple, but angry at consumers who will buy anything as long as it starts with and lowercase I and has a half-eaten fruit on the pack. My bro’s got an iTouch, and I’ll admit that that thing is sweet. Apple does a lot of innovating in many areas, but some of their stuff just makes me sick. The iPad especially.

    Reply

    • Jeremy Orion

      03/30/2010 at 1:23 pm

      Your comment is confusing. On one hand you claim that the iPod Touch is sweet and that Apple is innovative, but on the other hand you seem to claim that people buy Apple’s products because they’re trendy and sucked in by marketing.

      Maybe people buy Apple’s products because they are, like your description of the iPod Touch, sweet.

      Reply

  4. tim

    03/30/2010 at 1:01 pm

    You’re totally on this, Xavier, putting words to what I’ve been thinking alot lately. At times, Apple’s marketing hyperbole is beyond annoying and getting ticked off- it’s plain infuriating. Maybe it’s getting saturated marketing hyperbole growing up, but lots of often repeated sweet adverbs automatically gets my bs detector up, and fact-checking these claims usually unmask snake-oil fork-tongues behind them. I used to be alot more platform agnostic but ever since I’ve gotten more interested in tech and keeping up on it, I’ve gotten more and more allergic to Apple

    Reply

  5. CLC

    03/30/2010 at 1:03 pm

    Has Apple added Flash and limited multi-tasking since the keynote? I ask this because I have watched those videos up to the iPod function; and so far, they have stated that you can watch video right in Safari and that you can listen to your music playing from the iPod app while doing other functions on the iPad.

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/30/2010 at 1:08 pm

      No, Apple hasn’t added flash. Videos can play within Safari if they’re in a supported format.
      Like on the iPhone and iPod Touch, iPod music will play in the background while running other applications.

      Reply

      • CLC

        03/30/2010 at 1:12 pm

        Ah…I see. But most videos are Flash. So people are going to be sorely disappointed when they attempt to watch that video embedded in their favorite site.

        At least the music will be able to play in the background. I don’t have an iPod touch (was disappointed with the original iPod after all that hype and never bought another). So I didn’t know that.

        Reply

        • Jeremy Orion

          03/30/2010 at 1:45 pm

          What do you mean when you say “most videos are flash”?

          Vimeo has a working HTML5 player that they will be rolling out, Ted has an HTML5 version for iPhone/iPad’s Safari that is already up and running, and YouTube has a dedicated iPhone/iPad application (and like Vimeo is working on an HTML5 player).

          Video podcasts do not require flash, so any Internet TV sites that supply feeds of their content can be flash-free.

          About the only video that requires flash at the moment is Hulu, and (admittedly a lot of) embedded video content. However, I wouldn’t call this “most” of the available video content online. At best I would call it “much”, but even then I think it should have the caveat that “much” online video content is also not flash.

          Reply

          • ChrisRS

            03/30/2010 at 3:21 pm

            It does not matter if it is most or many. Flash video is not supported. If you want/need it – Aplle says go elswhere. OK!

          • CLC

            03/30/2010 at 9:23 pm

            “….that they will be rolling out,” (never heard of or use Ted), “YouTube has a dedicated iPhone/iPad application” (no HTML 5 yet, therefore, the vast majority of embedded videos on sites will be unviewable until Google gets HTML 5 figured out for, not just its own site, but also the embedded stuff. Hence, my “most videos are Flash” comment. How many Ted videos do you see embedded around the internet? How many are YouTube? Now go watch the Safari advertisement where they claim that you can watch videos embedded in a site right in Safari. I rest my case.)

          • Jeremy Orion

            04/03/2010 at 5:42 pm

            Just a thought regarding “most” online video.

            http://www.apple.com/ipad/ready-for-ipad/

  6. Sumocat

    03/30/2010 at 1:18 pm

    I want to get fired up over this, but at least they consider tablet PC to be worth mentioning. That’s more than I can say for some of their competitors who have disowned the name. I don’t know. Is it better to be attacked or ignored?

    Reply

    • Xavier Lanier

      03/30/2010 at 1:24 pm

      Good point Sumocat. I think it’s better to be attacked than ignored, but at least of the cojones to attack head on :-)

      As I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of things to like about the iPad and I’ll probably end up getting one despite not needing one.

      Reply

  7. Jeremy Orion

    03/30/2010 at 1:30 pm

    What I find most interesting in all of this is the polarizing effect that Apple’s products seem to have on people. It’s amazing that someone can be angry about a device that they have no personal stake in simply because it competes with another device that (outside of perhaps being a consumer of) they have no personal stake in.

    Unless you’re livelihood depends on the success of a Tablet PC, their seems little reason for anger at Apple.

    As for the hyperbole, I will say it again – not new, and not limited to Apple. I think Sony’s “PS3 does everything” marketing is far more hyperbolic and yet it doesn’t seem to draw the same ire.

    Reply

    • Uncle Mikey

      03/30/2010 at 4:07 pm

      …and the PS3 is just as much of a closed platform. In fact, it’s about to become even more closed. There was a supported “hole” on the original PS3’s, apparently, that allowed one to install other OSes (almost always Linux). That hole is about to be closed, and was already eliminated on the newer “slim” PS3s.

      Reply

      • Jeremy Orion

        03/31/2010 at 7:28 am

        I’ve never had a problem with closed platforms per se. If I did, I wouldn’t be a Mac user.

        Reply

  8. Doctor_Roe

    03/30/2010 at 2:51 pm

    Gotta love it! I actually am looking forward to the 5 or so folks in my office that ordered them. I love *tech*, sorry, but it’s true. It has it’s place in the lives of some, not mine, but some. Will be interesting to watch the evolution from love-to-hate-to-justification. Always happens!

    Try to pry my X61Tablet from my cold, dead hands!

    Reply

  9. ChrisRS

    03/30/2010 at 3:41 pm

    How about a list of thousands of things you can do on a Tablet PC, eBook reader, etc. that you CAN NOT DO ON AN iPAD …

    Tablet PC – run real productivity apps …

    Oh? You say, full scale productivity apps are not important. OK. I forgot – The iPad is the bestest magicalest device ever – but mostly for content consumption.

    Video – How about viewing wide screen content? 16:9 is dominant now , iPad 4:3 = fail.

    eBooks – My 50+ year old eyes get tired reading laptop screens. The eBoook readers are easier on my eyes. eBook readers have much better batttery life. iPad may not fail, but it is not clearly bestest, better or even a draw.

    I’m sure the iPad will be a nice product, appeal to a lot of people and fit in certain niches. However, it is being promoted as better that anything to do everything.

    Many People will buy iPads expecting performance equivalent to in a net book, eReader, Tablet PC, Notebook PC, eReader, etc and be disapointed. Shame on you Apple.

    Reply

    • Uncle Mikey

      03/30/2010 at 4:15 pm

      Productivity Apps: Based on what I’ve seen so far, iWork is going to be as fully featured on the iPad as it is on OS X. Now, maybe you’re prepared to slam iWork in general as lightweight compared to MSOffice or even OpenOffice, but given that I rarely do more than scratch the surface of Office, myself, I’m not too worried, here.

      Video: 16:9 would have been nice, but would have made the device awkward to use the way Apple envisions it, I think. Time will tell, since I suspect competitors will almost certainly aim for the 16:9 form factor to try to make the point. But really, if I’m taking a device along to watch some TV or movies on the airplane, I don’t necessarily care of the sides get chopped off, myself.

      eBooks: This one I do agree with you on. I like my Kindle a lot, precisely for the easy-to-read screen. That’s not to say I won’t also read on an iPad, but I know it will almost certainly be for shorter sessions, and mainly for content not available through the Kindle store, or content that’s more attractive on a more fully featured display.

      I definitely think Apple’s marketing is over the top, here, however. I’m not really sure what they were thinking, except perhaps that they’ve started to believe, after the success of the iPod and iPhone, that they really can walk on water.

      Reply

      • ChrisRS

        03/30/2010 at 10:34 pm

        I am not slamming iWork – I am not familiar with it, but am sure it is adequate for may people and purposes. I do not scratch the surface of Office capabilites myself, buit do deal with complicated documents from other peopole.

        To me productivity applications include more than MS Office, such as AutoCAD, Engineering applications such as HEC-RAS, PDF Revu, graphics programs such as Photoshop, Irfan View, etc. (I do use Photoshop , but use the others successfully on a TabletPC) The inability to run these applications is inherant in the iPad OS and design. That is OK; It is what it is; BUT it is a limitaion of the iPad.

        Reply

        • kah

          03/31/2010 at 12:01 am

          I agree with ChisRS, most Apps that seem to be in Apple Library seem to be limited use, games or dupications of the same thing. I use an iPod Nano for music when travelling and exercising. I have a HTC HD2 for my phone, an excellent product, use a Laptop for most other things. However when I go overseas soon, I will not be looking at an iPad but a Netbook Tablet.

          iWork like WinMo are both vapourware for now, you cannot compare things that do not exist with things that are available today.

          Reply

        • Uncle Mikey

          03/31/2010 at 3:53 pm

          @Chris: OK, I’ll buy that. However, I with the exception of Photoshop, I think I would qualify most of those as being very much niche applications, specific to particular jobs and industries. I would also shudder to think how they would run on any netbook, and that’s the main target at the moment for the iPad. I mean, yes, you CAN run Photoshop on a netbook, but it’s going to be painful…

          Reply

          • ChrisRS

            03/31/2010 at 9:31 pm

            @Uncle Mikey – I think we are in violent agreement. I would not expect to run the applications I mentioned on a netbook. (I think netbook marketing has often overstated their capabilities.)

            The point is that the iPad hyper-marketing comes nowhere near admitting that it is a netbook competitor.

    • Y2HBK

      03/31/2010 at 5:41 am

      “Many People will buy iPads expecting performance equivalent to in a net book, eReader, Tablet PC, Notebook PC, eReader, etc and be disapointed. Shame on you Apple.”

      If you buy an iPad thinking this, you deserve to get burned for not fully researching the product and waiting for hands-on/reviews. I say Shame on you Consumer just as much.

      Reply

      • ChrisRS

        03/31/2010 at 10:19 am

        Are you saying that “Apple” = “Buyer Beware”?

        If so, I agree. The iPad will be a good product for some users. The iPad marking hype is gross overselling though.

        When the hoopla dies down, there will be actual reviews and iPads availabe hands on; the consumer can then make an informed choice.

        Even then, the consumer will neeed to wade through the glowing reviews that esentially say “The iPad does EVERTHING (what I need) that ANYONE (me) could possibly want to do (that I personnaly know of) better than ANYTHING ELSE (that I have personally used – or read a review of)!”

        Reply

  10. Doctor_Roe

    03/31/2010 at 6:38 am

    Ah, but how many of us purchased net Books expecting more than they delivered? I am not agreeing with the marketing of the iPad and the over-selling. I have, however, also been swept up in trying to fill that *small – take anywhere* appliance that offers moderate document processing with email and internet. We received a free netbook with our FIOS install. Really disappointing speed even though the apps are there. it now sits as the last choice around our house with the first being the x series Lenovos. The iPad will survive because of what it is, not what it isn’t.

    Give me my 12″ tablet over most things out there today and I am satisfied.

    Reply

  11. Feralboy

    03/31/2010 at 8:22 am

    Serious lies. There was a time when marketers were held to a higher standard and you couldn’t out and out lie to the public. That said, the iPad will appeal to the average consumer because the average consumer is not about creating content. That’s one of the reasons netbooks are still selling so well — the average consumer is not doing any real work on these things, so the limitations are often a non-issue.

    There are certain things / use-cases where the iPad actually bests the other items — would it be so difficult to focus on those and not lie?

    Reply

  12. Virtuous

    03/31/2010 at 2:36 pm

    Flash on smartphones is a poor experience. Flash Blocker should be a part of every modern computer web broswer.

    Reply

  13. Heatlesssun

    03/31/2010 at 3:03 pm

    Ok, this is WAR!!!

    I just can’t sit back and take this a huge Tablet PC fan and having an HP tm2 which is about the most “magical” mobile device out there.

    Please iPad fans, tell me what the iPad can do that a TPC can’t. Sure, I understand the elements of the size and battery life and the accelerometer add a dimension to the device that you don’t have in the TPC but guess Apple forgot about ink, which even Apple has on the Mac, though nothing like a TPC.

    Why can’t they just sell the device on its on merits instead of lying, something tells me SteveO might be a bit worried. I mean he’s bringing attention to a VASTLY more powerful platform that not a lot of people know about. He might be digging his own hole.

    Reply

  14. Tomas Antila

    03/31/2010 at 5:03 pm

    That “the best web experience ever” bugs me as well. I think they mean “the most pleasant/fun web experience ever”, which isn’t really the same thing. I also see it as making false facts.

    Reply

  15. Nameless

    03/31/2010 at 8:11 pm

    The iPad can do many things the Tablet PC can’t, like ink with a Wacom active digitizer pen or multi-task…oh, wait.

    Are they seriously going to tell me with a straight face that the iPad is going to be better for a college/uni student like me than a typical Wacom-enabled Tablet PC with OneNote and any other apps I may need? Do they really think I’m going to fat-finger all those lecture notes into the device?

    Reply

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