chipotle: (drinks)
[personal profile] chipotle
What was the famous Slashdot quote about the first iPod? “No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.”

While I’m not going to predict the iPad will match the success of the previous iP* product lines, there’s a definite party line among the geek crowd that only fashion-conscious fanboys would ever actually buy Apple products and that whenever they introduce a new gadget it’s the Stupidest Thing Ever. If the majority of commenters on Slashdot and TechCrunch did not piss all over a new Apple product, that’s the product I’d expect was in trouble. Given how much pissing is going on around such sites over the iPad, I'm betting the thing is going to sell like crack-infused hotcakes.

Never make the mistake of assuming either of the following:
  1. That you really know what a product you've only seen demo videos of is going to be good at. Some things look much better in demos than they really are, and some things have to actually be used to be properly evaluated.
  2. That because ultimately a product is not good for you means that it's not good for anyone else. You are not necessarily in the median of the product's target market segment.
(N.B.: I'm not sure I'm in the iPad's target market segment. It's not designed to be a laptop replacement and I'm not sure I need another gadget about. I might rather have it than a dedicated e-book reader, all the arguments for the superiority of e-ink not withstanding, but I haven't been sold on e-book readers yet, either. So.)

Date: 2010-01-28 21:00 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that the iPad would be spectacular for reading RPG books on!

More seriously, I'm pretty much on board with your analysis. I'm surprised that more people haven't noticed that (a) "unfamiliar" and "bad" are different and (b) Apple is very good at landing on the right side of that distinction.

Date: 2010-01-28 21:29 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have to say, this is what I do like about Apple the last few years: the first iteration of the product is NOT targeted to hardcore geeks. Let's face it, the market is made up of a lot more people than hardcore geeks. Apple creates a high-quality basic product that will appeal to the masses, bringing the geekfactor of the average the consumer up with them.

Am I the target market? I might just be. I surf the web and play Farmville from bed every night, and frankly, the laptop is a pain in the ass for that, but I do it anyway. Personally, I'm going to wait to see how HP's Android slate stacks up when it comes out. I would recommend the iPad in a heartbeat for my parents or very low-tech friends, though.

Will the iPad or HP Slate replace my laptop? Yes. I purchased the laptop instead of an iMac because I value portability over performance. Sometimes, though, I *need* that little bit more performance, and for what I paid for my Macbook Pro, though, i could get a slate AND an iMac... I am much more likely to go that route next time around.

Date: 2010-01-28 21:32 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*cough* Ignore any blatant grammar errors in there...

I should note that I scaled DOWN from the 15" Macbook Pro to the 13" Macbook Pro when I purchased my laptop last year... that extra two inches increases the portability significantly, so I lost out on some of extra performance even within the laptop line. I don't need a LOT of performance, but WoW runs so poorly on this 13MBP that I've given up playing it entirely. This is, of course, NOT a bad thing. :D

Date: 2010-01-28 21:42 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I'm likely to replace my 15" MacBook Pro sometime this year and am debating whether to drop down to the 13" one. With the current models that will still be a CPU speed increase, but I'm not sure I'd be happy with the reduced screen space for development work. Then again, if I'm doing really serious coding work I'm very often at either the office or home, connected to an external monitor -- if I'm writing fiction, pixel count isn't nearly as big a deal.

Some of the MBPs have considerably better graphics processors in them and would probably do great for WoW, but I'm not sure if that's an argument for or against them.

Date: 2010-01-28 21:39 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think they're killing themselves on the pricing of this thing. I don't know if anyone except bleeding edgers would pay that much for the niche this thing may or may not carve out.

Date: 2010-01-28 22:01 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmm. I'm actually surprised it started at $499; I was expecting it to have prices that ran from $699 up. I'd be surprised if someone could produce something for much less that would be considered really competitive in terms of features and usability. (Look at the recent CrunchPad fiasco, which has resulted in a roughly comparable product -- touch-sensitive high-resolution color display that gives you the Adobe Flash compatibility the iPad doesn't, at the tradeoff of, uh, everything that doesn't involve a web browser -- for... $500.)

The question that remains to be seen is really how niche it's going to prove to be. Apple is essentially saying, "Other people have tried to create a market here and failed, but we think we've got it right." This worked with the iPod -- there were MP3 players on the market before it, but for practical purposes nobody really cared. With the Apple TV, not so much, although it's hard to point to anybody else who's doing much better with the "computer video on your TV" shtick -- so far that market just doesn't seem to really be there. So is the iPad more like the Apple TV, or more like the iPod?

My suspicion is that Apple is making the right move for the long run of personal computers: as ubiquitous computing creeps ever closer, devices which really aren't quite like what PC users (and I'm counting Macs as PCs in this case) have come to expect are going to be the norm. That doesn't mean that devices like the iPad are going to be the norm either, of course, and more than one company has hit the rocks betting on this ubiquitous computing future arriving too soon -- see anything involving the phrase "internet appliance" circa 2000. But there's a lot of infrastructure in place now that wasn't then. While I wouldn't bet a lot on the iPad's eventual success, I wouldn't bet anything against it, either.

Date: 2010-01-28 22:17 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Asus has already announced a Tegra 2 (nvidia's take on an ARM chip) equipped tablet device in the same class for $599 which does 1080p and has hdmi output for presentations etc.

Date: 2010-01-28 22:38 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ooh, that sounds lovely...

Date: 2010-01-28 23:18 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Look at the track record of people pointing out competition to Apple products -- whether we're talking about the Mac in its various incarnations, the iPod, or the iPhone -- that deliver more features at lower price points. That keeps happening, and every year, Steve Jobs might as well hold a press conference in which he gathers up all the articles talking about how the competition is better, sets them on fire, and screams, "See my hat? It's MADE OF MONEY!"

What Apple "gets" in a way that seemingly very few other companies do is user experience. A friend of mine relayed a story about debating between Mac and PC some years ago, and made his decision based on a simple observation: Mac users he knew tended to say, "Look what I did with my computer," and PC users tended to say, "Look what I got my computer to do." If you look at Apple's consumer electronics devices, they've carried that through: the iPod wasn't the best MP3 player in terms of a feature checklist when it hit the market. The iPhone took a lot of hits in the media for things it didn't do that its competitors did. Yet the iPod has pretty much defined its market segment; the iPhone isn't crushing everything in its path, but it's safe to say it's wildly successful.

The iPad is very clearly not going after the same market that "Windows 7 with a touch interface" would be; if it was, it wouldn't be based on the iPhone, it would be based on OS X. If you want a PC/Mac, you don't want an iPad. I am not going to be doing web development on an iPad. Then again, I'm probably not going to be doing it on a $600 "Eee Pad," either, and that gets to the heart of the argument the iPad is effectively making: most of the stuff that you can't do with it is stuff that the vast majority of people aren't going to want to do with that form factor, and the stuff you do want to do with it is stuff that it's by and large pretty good at.

Again, I'm not saying that the iPad is necessarily a hit, let alone a home run -- but the biggest hurdle to them isn't from competitors playing the feature checklist game. That hasn't worked in the past and I see no reason to think it'll work this time, either. Their gamble is on whether this whole market actually exists.

Date: 2010-01-28 22:09 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I do like the Apple products, however. The iPad would not be useful enough for me. I did get an iTouch for Christmas and brought it back because it was not useful enough for me. I ended up with a Dell Axim X50v instead. It had was capable of running Word, Excel, and Power Point (as needed for school) I also purchased the IR keyboard. This allows me to write my papers at work instead of using my laptop (since the laptop is now my only computer). I also hated doing everything thru iTunes.

I was disappointed also because are no SD slots or CF slots to put anything on the device.

If I am wrong, and their are ways around this please let me know. I would like to one day be a Mac owner again and have everything in my world compatible.

Date: 2010-01-28 22:23 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, an iPhone/Touch will probably never be good at replacing a laptop; even if you could use a Bluetooth keyboard with it (which you can't, which is still sort of annoying!) those applications just aren't there. The Axim sounds like it's better for what you want.

The iPad will have Pages, Numbers and Keynote, which are Apple's own respective equivalents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I don't know how you get things in and out of them, though -- we'll probably have to wait until they're actually shipping and reviewers start poking at them in more detail.

It also sounds like for the time being, doing everything from iTunes is Apple's way. It works well enough for me, but for something that started life as an MP3 player program, it's getting more and more like one of those Swiss Army knives with a dozen blades, three screwdrivers, and two dozen other gadgets you can't actually identify.

Date: 2010-01-28 22:28 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, the Axim is perfect for me and the price was 1/2 of a 32g iTouch. One day, after I get through nursing school. I can start using Apple devices again.

Date: 2010-01-28 22:41 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You know why I want it? Not for all the things that the keynote says it can do, or the things the nay-sayers scream it can't do.

I want it because, like with many new tech products Apple has put out, I can't wait to try out what it might do in the future.

*makes grabby-hands at the Apple store*

Date: 2010-01-28 23:37 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's certainly true. Apple has a pretty good track record of pushing out improvements with successive OS releases.

The only things I'd really like to see are some level of multitasking and a way to do installations outside of the App Store process. I'm not holding my breath for either one, especially the latter -- I suspect the former will make its way to the iPad, but I also think they're going to put a lot of thought into how to handle the UI of application switching on a device like that.

Date: 2010-01-29 00:50 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't think that multitasking is that important on a portable device.

No one ever complained about the lack of multitasking on Palm Pilots. The programs were simply set up to run when you needed them, and would default to where ever you left off where appropriate. You don't *need* to have a spreadsheet/web browser/e-book app actively running in the background to use them fully on a portable.

The list of apps where running in the background is useful to the user, rather than easier for the programmer, is actually really small. It's just about Direct instant messaging, and Internet Radio that people say they'd want. Instant Messaging could be done by push-notification. And Internet Radio just isn't a big enough thing to work out a way to support multitasking for.
From: [identity profile]
Despite my Luddite rantings, I don't hate or object to this device -- and I can think of a lot of really nifty and cool ways that other people might use it, even if I can't envision myself doing so. I'm never more than a few feet from a computer when at home -- why I would grab the iPad when my laptop is RIGHT THERE or my phone is RIGHT THERE is a bit mystifying.

Yes, there are a lot of nifty things you can do with the touch interface, but it's not enough of a draw for me to want to own the Medium Screen. I think the difference between the tech geek and the tech consumer is another interesting pair of questions:

The tech geek asks, "What CAN I do with this?" and gets excited. There's a lot to be excited about.

But the consumer asks, "What WILL I do with this?" And I'm not sure there's a satisfactory answer for that question for the iPad -- yet. Certainly not one that would encourage people to buy something that requires a subscription plan. You need to be able to show people a way this will fit into their lives.

I think it will be a little harder to convince people this is something they actually WANT than it was with the iPod. The iPod replaced existing products -- transistor radio, walkman, discman, iPod. The iPhone took off because it was a highly visible, easily adoptable improvement on a current technology that was already prevalent and popular.

The iPad? It's trying to generate a new niche. It's trying to convince consumers that they need a third thing between their out and about device and their computers. That's a lot harder. And it's further hampered by not BEING an "out and about" device. Apple's marketing model benefits from people tying themselves to the brand. iPods, iPhones, and MacBooks aren't just devices -- they're fashion accessories. I think that's one huge reason they take off: the hip and trendy love to be seen carrying them or using them. Apple clearly knows this: they take full advantage of it with their "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials. iPhones and iPods are small, sexy devices for standing up, moving around, going places. The MacBooks let you self-identify as a Pod person when you're seated working in your coffee shop or what have you. The iPad is this weird, half-sitting, half-standing thing. It doesn't have a niche where you can be SEEN with it. You're sure not gonna go carrying that thing around, or you're likely to look like a giant dork -- like I do with my Kindle. :)
From: [identity profile]
Imagine you're a student again.

Now, this iPad can store all your text books, and some of the new text books include embedded video and audio. And it lets you annotate them with notes from a lecture where you get told the text book is wrong in such-and-such case. It weighs a pound, and is no bigger than a thick clipboard. As opposed to the twelve pounds worth of paper based books. And you can do your midterm paper on it. And you can check your class schedule on it, and get updates on room changes. And it can do lots of other fun stuff as well...

That's just *one* target market for this thing.

Date: 2010-01-29 01:14 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think you're hitting on it.

We've entered this rare space in technology where we can invent things before we need them. This would be superfluous, almost sinful action to our Puritan ancestors (who worked out those neuroses and became perfectly boring capitalists, hail Satan).

For marketing folks, it's pure joy. For the rest of us, it can be confusing until we start playing. Suddenly a new device solves problems you'd repressed.

Wouldn't it be great to have the entire of ancient Greek writing available to you any time? Done.

What's wrong with having something that perhaps talks to all your computers but isn't tied up with being a full computer? Oh sure, I love my servers and my notebook. I would just prefer to have only what I'm reading with me when I have to get under the car and fix a hose or get into the basement and test the power lines.


Still, I'm not going to buy an iPad write away. I'm on my third iPod, but I know it took a couple generations before it was ready for a record collector like me. I want to hear people throw their fits first, then watch whether Apple adapts (and often they do), and then decide.

I love the idea of having my pr0n reader not need to power up for a whole minute. I like knowing it'd be more like my cell phone -- durable enough, dependable enough, not so smart that it wants to pick a fight with me.

Oh, and it needs a USB slot for my thumb drive. End.

Date: 2010-01-29 02:12 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it's the opposite. For the tech nut, it's pure joy. They love playing around with new devices. For marketing folks -- they have to convince other people that their world can be a reality that contains it and that it has real uses NOW.

You can't market a product based on the idea that you don't "get it" until you try it.

Date: 2010-01-29 04:58 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Actually, that sounds like the best come-on line I've ever heard.

iPad: it's eating at you that you don't dig it yet.

iPad: be cooler than your kids. No, they can't "see" it.

iPad: You'll figure it out. Yes, you. Come find out.

iPad: What do you mean, what's it for?

Date: 2010-01-29 07:18 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You can't market a product based on the idea that you don't "get it" until you try it.

Obviously that can't be your marketing message, no. But the rationale for Apple entering the retail business -- which a lot of people thought was a spectacularly stupid idea when they announced it -- was to get Macs in front of people who hadn't used them in years, if it all, so they could see what they were actually like and get a hands-on demonstration. And then to get iPods in front of people who'd never thought about MP3 players. And then to get iPhones in front of them. The proposition Apple staked the stores on wasn't that you don't get their products until you try them -- it's that if you do try them, you'll get them. And ideally, get them in the sense of "purchase them." Their sales figures by and large seem to validate this strategy.

To consider this another way, the people who bought the first iPhones were tech nuts who loved playing around with new devices. A lot of people didn't really see what the big deal was. At first. I know more than a few people who weren't interested in iPhones who bought one after having the chance to use one, and others who became interested a year or two in as the iPhone matured. My bet is that Apple expects the iPad to develop in the same way, that this isn't something they expect to be under every Christmas tree this year. The test is how many Christmas trees it's under by 2011, or even 2012.

I don't have any sense of the answer to that, mind you. As you've observed, Apple really is trying to convince people that this is a new category of device, and convince a sufficient number of people that it's a category of device they want. Both of those are tough. But there's no other company that really has the pieces in place to try and pull it off, at least for the time being.

Date: 2010-01-29 13:06 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"You can't market a product based on the idea that you don't 'get it' until you try it."

Dr Pepper

Date: 2010-01-29 14:38 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
From: [identity profile]
Okay, I imagine I'm a student -- not hard, since I work for a university, so maybe that's not the best example -- and I see a commercial that makes these claims. Immediately I want to know, are the professors making all my textbooks available on this device? Are they cheaper than buying them used? Will I get eyestrain studying my books from a lit screen for 4-5 hours a day? Will they all fit on its 64G of space? Will my school's schedule/database work with its software? If it's stolen or broken, do I lose all my textbooks and notes and homework and everything?

None of this to say that the thing doesn't, in some future state, have classroom applications (will we require all our students to have one?). As I said, I can envision lots of ways this tech COULD be used -- but there's no way to market it now for it to fit into someone's life that I can tell.

Date: 2010-01-29 02:24 (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm definitely not in Apple's target marking; jailbreaking aside their recent stuff has been way too tightly controlled for a tinkerer like myself.

However... Apple has been good about being trailblazers. Smartphones existed, but the iPhone upped the ante and now we have Android phones which might not be *quite* as sharp, but are relatively more open and cheaper.

I'm hoping the iPad will do the same for ebook readers/tablet computers.


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