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I Hope Woz is Wrong…



Steve Wozniak is a brilliant guy and someone that’s tough for geeks not to love. While the Woz while he was en route to judge a high school robotics competition, he made some remarks to Business Week reporter Dan Lyons that are way off.

In response to Lyons asking if he thinks the iPad will be a big hit, Wozniak said:

The iPad could lower the cost of acquiring computers for students. I think it’s going to be huge in the education market. Think about students going off to college. They want an Apple product, but their parents don’t want to spend that much. Now they have the ideal thing. They can go to college and someone may have a whacked-out $6,000 laptop, but the guy with the iPad will get all the attention.

Is this really how college students and parents should be shopping for computers? If a kid is so set on getting something with an Apple logo they should get a refurbished MacBook. If money really is the primary concern, they should avoid Apple products all together. The iPad is more expensive than the cheapest PCs, assuming kids need more than 16GB of storage and the keyboard dock.

And do we really need to worry about who’s getting all the attention because of the label on the back of their device?

Any parent that sends their kid to college with just an iPad would be doing them a great disservice. One of the most valuable skills (hopefully) learned in college is how to use computers as work tools. The iPad is clearly a device geared towards enjoying multimedia content and creating relatively simple documents. Deep experience with a full desktop OS and industry-specific applications go a long way when applying for your first job, even if all you need for your line of work is a browser and productivity applications.

I don’t think the iPad is a bad device and I’ll probably end up buying an iPad at some point despite not really needing one.

There are a lot better ways to impress friends in college than just flashing an Apple logo.  I personally think that the guy with the $6,000 laptop will be better armed to impress people if that’s his thing.



  1. Mickey Segal

    03/30/2010 at 1:00 pm

    Students relying on iPads for college would give Apple a veto over the software that such students could run on their computers. Universities tend to be unenthusiastic about companies that want such control over the education of students.

  2. Uncle Mikey

    03/30/2010 at 1:07 pm

    It’s hard to tell if Woz was being serious or if he was actually trying to score a dig at the iPad as a concept. Either way, I’m not sure he really answered the question that was being asked in the spirit it was intended…

  3. CLC

    03/30/2010 at 1:08 pm

    My brothers are going through community college right now. A lot of the things they need to do on the web require IE; and the Office program learning centers around Window’s Office. So…..while the student might want the iPad, his courses are going to push him in the direction of a PC or a Mac with Windows on BootCamp if the Mac is ABSOLUTELY necessary. (I’m in art school; and, despite being hard up for money, Macs are everywhere. LOL)

  4. Doctor_Roe

    03/30/2010 at 1:56 pm

    My daughter takes a Toshiba tablet to her college classes. Not a Mac with all it’s followers, but she takes hand-written notes as well as records the lecture. Uses OneNote to stay organized, AND she can still read books and mags via Zinio. All that for $299. Tell me, what is WRONG with this picture? Maybe I need to get her one of those old Apple II stickers for the cover!

  5. Nick

    03/30/2010 at 2:26 pm

    I am not an apple fanboy and will never be. I will stick with my X201 for taking notes and doing school work. It is 10 times better for school then any apple product I have seen others using. Who cares about getting attention about my laptop. I rather get the job done.

  6. Jack

    03/30/2010 at 2:38 pm

    This article is right on point. I’ve been through numerous iterations of tablets and now have the newest Lenovo S10-3t and I have to say that my first one, a used Motion 1200 slate, has actually been the most practical one for an office meeting setting. I don’t think I can ever buy another tablet, slate or otherwise, that doesn’t have an active digitizer. And they seem to be becoming ancient history..

  7. sbtablet

    03/30/2010 at 2:46 pm

    Unfortunately, with some students, Woz is probably right. I teach at a community college, where we get everybody. I have some students who are ready to work VERY hard and do whatever it takes to meet their goals, and then, well, there are the others. These are the ones the iPad may well get, the students who stand in front of me with their new iPhone and $200 tennis shoes and tell me their aid package hasn’t come in so they can’t buy the textbook for the class until next month.

    • everbrave

      03/30/2010 at 5:15 pm

      Well, well, well, stablet, were we really much different? ;) I don’t know how old you are, but I was very happy to put my slide rule aside and use the HP25 “programmable” calc. Altough, from an educational point of view, a slide rule is very good because you have to keep the order of magnitude in mind while solving the problem, the HP25 was more capable in many aspects. Now, I am a Prof. for computer engineering ;)
      So, I won’t entirely agree to your classification! We will find the iPad in the hands of many different students, I am sure!

      • ChrisRS

        03/31/2010 at 11:18 am

        Not a valid comparison. I was in the same situation of abandioning a slide rule, so I understand what you are saying. The calculator is not comparable to an iPhone or $200 tennis shoes. It was purely a productivity tool, and, for the most part, a NOT a status symbol. It was was somwhat less dorky than having a slide rule hanging from you belt, but cretainly not a babe magnet.

        • everbrave

          03/31/2010 at 11:53 am

          Generally, a good point Chris … I can speak only for myself, the “programmable” calculator wasn’t entirely a production tool! I, e.g. was challenged by programming “Moon Landing” game in 49 steps; just for fun. That’s for one, then, it was the “what’s your calculator” factor and thus, also sort of “showing-off” included. I#m quite certain that the iPad is a similar combination of productivity and “show” until the iSlate or whatever appears and the story starts to repeat itself. So, I don’t think that the show effect by itself is so bad as long as it is combined with some sort of productivity. The show-effect can’t be ignored (in a lot of products, by the way, from a car to the smart phone). For now, I’m quite happy that other manufacturers are building iPad clones or similar devices!

  8. everbrave

    03/30/2010 at 3:04 pm

    Personally, I don’t care if he is right or wrong, but rather care whether it does what I want from it in the way I want it to do it! Some people will find the iPad useful others not and this will decide on the success of the product on the market. My Apple Newton, did that time a great service to me, but it wasn’t good enough for the majority (beside some commercial decisions from Steve that time), so it failed on the market.
    The iPad is not a TabletPC the way we knew tablets for years and this produces some reluctance, not to say aversion, of many tablet users.
    The success story of Apple relied on the user interface & experience much more than on features or having an SD card reader or not and how many USB connectors are available.
    The TabletPC had a chance for many years now to enhance the productivity of its adopters, but failed on several fronts such as OS and App. support, UI, weight, size, price segment, just to mention few. After few struggles of the “actual” tablet form factor, the slate, manufacturers, driven by the market needs, started producing notebooks with a hinged display!
    Now, Apple comes with a new but proven OS for a UI that the users loved in the iPhone and a support for a huge number of applications. Apple steered the tablet market to a new direction, namely, a device which is not a computer in the traditional sense and thus promoting and encouraging thinking of the definition and employment of a Tablet. I think, all computers and TabletPC, regardless of the OS and the apps, will benefit from this, like smart phones benefited from the iPhone and Windows from MacOS; again, at least regarding the UI.
    So, let’s be happy with this development; I am, and hope that the iPad and the alike get matured and adapt to our needs (also regarding features).
    The users will make the fate of the iPad, like they do with any other product. The point is, we tablet users did not have an alternative to the TabletPC but now we have one more and I hope to see even more to choose from.
    All discussions of the sort “will buy or not” or “3:4 screen”, “large bezel”, “no camera” and the “things I like/hate” are sort of space filler, IMHO, because they do not address the usability of the iPad; really not, since usability is not simply the some of features. The real experience of the product is not here yet; can’t we wait?

    • Jack

      03/30/2010 at 4:44 pm

      Good points, Everbrave. There are actually some things that my touch-tablet does quite well and that I like. I will try to be more open-minded about the Ipad. Its not better or worse that a tablet pc, its just different.

      Notwithstanding that, I can never pass up any excuse to whine about how frustrating it is that with all this pretty new stuff, no one seems to want to make a thin affordable slate with an active digitizer that you could really ink on.

  9. everbrave

    03/30/2010 at 5:02 pm

    First, I want to apologize for the typing mistakes in my previous post!
    Jack; there are in fact a number of TabletPCs with active digitizer. But, while I and many others are still begging Dell and N-Trig to get their driver working properly, Apple is introducing the iPad; that is the good news. The bad news is that we probably will have to wait for the next generation to have a pen support. I think that handwriting is a natural input method and wish to have this option on my future Tablet device. Will that make me refrain from buying the first generation iPad? I don’t know for certain until I have on in my hands.

  10. Ben

    03/31/2010 at 1:53 am

    Eh, Whatever. An ipad might be cool for a while, but if it’s a hit, then everyone will have one and then nobody will notice or care. If it’s a flop, then it’ll be more ridiculous than cool. The guy with the $6000 laptop might get a few Ooo’s and Ahh’s, but most people will just wonder why he spent so much for no real purpose.

    If you go to college and care about being cool, then go ahead and buy something that you think makes you cool. However, it’s not high school. No one gives a crap about what you do. The only “cool” people are the ones who get good jobs after they graduate.

    • everbrave

      03/31/2010 at 11:55 am

      Ben, I absolutely agree!

  11. Tomas Antila

    03/31/2010 at 4:52 pm

    I’m sorry, but what IS a $6000-laptop? I thought something like $3500 was the most money you could put on a laptop for top notch? And if you really need such a expensive computer I doubt the Ipad will stand a chance.

    • Xavier Lanier

      04/01/2010 at 12:48 am

      You can buy a $6000 if you try hard enough- add ridiculous SSDs, pro-grade display, etc. Stuff typically found on pro Workstations, but yeah- Woz was exaggerating a little as these are far from typical.

  12. Stuart

    03/31/2010 at 5:20 pm

    A tricked out toughbook with active digitizer and capacitive digitizer and build-in GPS with Gobi modem and solid state hard drive might get near $6000. But being able to use it outside in the pouring rain or dropping it in the snow and not worrying if there will be a problem–priceless.

  13. Nameless

    03/31/2010 at 7:59 pm

    I don’t impress fellow college students with a bitten fruit logo.

    I impress them by showing just what sets the Tablet PC apart from most computers-pop out the pen, fire up OneNote, write some stuff down, and show how they can search through it with ease-like a paper notebook, only better. Then I let them draw for a bit in SketchBook Pro if they’re artists.

    Many of them are impressed that such things even EXIST. Even moreso when I point out how cheaply old tablets like the TC1100 can be had for if they don’t mind eBay.

    Also, anyone who pays US$6,000 for a laptop is probably being suckered out of their money. I wouldn’t pay that much even for a top-of-the-line custom-built desktop with phase-change cooling and everything overclocked out the wazoo. Tuition and textbooks are expensive enough as-is!

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