There are plenty of reasons to be critical about the Apple iPad. If they feel inclined, Apple’s competitors and detractors can lick their lips.
For example, an article in Gizmodo enumerates “8 Things That Suck About the iPad“:
- Big, Ugly Bezel
- No Multitasking
- No Cameras
- Touch Keyboard
- No HDMI Out
- The Name “iPad”
- No Flash
- Adapters, Adapters, Adapters (“if you want to plug anything into this, such as a digital camera, you need all sorts of ugly adapters. You need an adapter for USB for god’s sake”)
- It’s Not Widescreen
- Doesn’t Support T-Mobile 3G (“it uses microSIMs that literally no one else uses”)
- A Closed App Ecosystem.
(The last three items on the list were added after the article was first published.)
In similar vein, Robert Scoble reported the view of his 16 year old son: “iFail“:
- It isn’t compelling enough for a high school student who already has a Macintosh notebook and an iPhone.
- It is missing features that a high school student would like, like handwriting recognition to take notes, a camera to take pictures of the board in class (and girls), and the ability to print out documents for class.
- He hasn’t seen his textbooks on it yet, so the usecase of replacing heavy textbooks hasn’t shown up yet.
- The gaming features aren’t compelling enough for him to give up either the Xbox or the iPhone. The iPhone wins because it fits in his pocket. The Xbox wins because of Xbox live so he can play against his friends (not to mention engaging HD quality and wide variety of titles).
- He doesn’t like the file limitations. His friends send him videos that he can’t play in iTunes and the iPad doesn’t support Flash.
- It isn’t game changing like the iPhone was.
However, let’s remember that iPhone initially received a similar swathe of criticisms. It, too, omitted lots of features that everyone took for granted would need to be part of a successful smartphone: multi-tasking, 3G, MMS, copy-and-paste…
The iPad shouldn’t be judged against existing markets. Rather than participating in a “red ocean” that’s already swarming with active competitors, it has the chance to define and participate in an empty “blue ocean”.
- Here, I’m using the language of W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of INSEAD.
- Blue ocean products avoid matching existing products feature-for-feature.
- They miss out some items completely, but, instead, deliver big time on some other points.
It’s similar to how Palm made the first commercially successful pen-based handheld computer. In comparison to predecessors – like the Casio Zoomer, the General Magic “Magic Cap”, and (ironically) the Apple Newton – the Palm Pilot delivered much less functionality. But what it did deliver was a delight to use. (I made a similar point in an earlier blog posting, reviewing the growth of the iPhone market share: “Market share is no comfort“.)
This is the “less is more” philosophy. It’s a good philosophy!
Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are saying to themselves: the iPad is not for them. But a different, large, group of potential users are likely to be interested.
It’s early days, but it looks as if the iPad will support excellent browsing of many kinds of content – content that previously would be read in physical books, newspapers, and magazines. That’s a big market.
What’s more, reports suggest that the iPad packs tremendous speed. For example, John Gruber reports the following on Daring Fireball:
…the iPad is using a new CPU designed and made by Apple itself: the Apple A4. This is a huge deal. I got about 20 blessed minutes of time using the iPad demo units Apple had at the event today, and if I had to sum up the device with one word, that word would be “fast”.
It is fast, fast, fast…
I expected the screen size to be the biggest differentiating factor in how the iPad feels compared to an iPhone, but I think the speed difference is just as big a factor. Web pages render so fast it was hard to believe. After using the iPhone so much for two and a half years, I’ve become accustomed to web pages rendering (relative to the Mac) slowly. On the iPad, they seem to render nearly instantly. (802.11n Wi-Fi helps too.)
The Maps app is crazy fast. Apps launch fast. Scrolling is fast. The Photos app is fast.
…everyone I spoke to in the press room was raving first and foremost about the speed. None of us could shut up about it. It feels impossibly fast.
Speed, for the iPad, might the special extra blast of usability that the new pen interface was the iPhone.