Life, Football, Technology and Vespas…

iPad – Who is it for?

I am typing this on my macbook. The keyboard, the posture and the position of the screen make it easy and comfortable to do so. I had the wordpress client for the iphone and found that it is not really suitable to for typing large amounts of text and would only consider so if it were an emergency. I suspect I would have the same logistical problems with the iPad.

But if I were reading this post then the it becomes a completely different matter. I could kick my feet up on my sofa, grab the iPad, get myself nice and comfy and read away in any contorted position I wish. I could also do that with my iPhone, but again, as good as the browsing is on it, it’s only really in an emergency that I would.

The iPad will appeal to people who desire something in between a smartphone and a laptop computer. Somebody who does not want to fire up the laptop at home just to do a bit of browsing or social networking. The smartphone lets you keep connected on the move, but the iPad will let you move while keeping you connected. For example, I enjoy reading the news and checking the old facebook and twitter over breakfast. I either have to drag my laptop to the breakfast table, which is a little inconvenient and cumbersome or do what I currently do – take my phone. The phone works to a certain degree, but I would like something better.

What about a netbook you all say? Netbooks to me are just smaller laptops with none of the benefits of a laptop computer. I have the same problem, once you open the netbook up, it still takes up a considerable amount of space on the breakfast table and it is not very easy to use it lying on my sofa.

Isn’t the iPad just a big iPhone? Yes it is. And that is what is great about it. The iPhone has been a huge success because of it’s wonderfully intuitive interface and OS. It really kicked the door down on true mobile connectivity to such a point where AT&T’s network is bursting at the seams. The largest driver of mobile data has been the ability to adequately access social networking sites with a mobile device. The iPhone was the pioneer. We never realised we needed the iPhone until it was here. Now we wonder sometimes how we live without the technological drive it created.

The iPad wants to go a touch (excuse the pun) further. The iPhone / Android is great when you are out and about but it comes up short when you are at home. In my case, I put my phone on the side or in the charger and then I slink off to my laptop.

There are a few surprises / disappointments. Namely the inability to do video conferencing. I think that this is a real let down but I suspect that V2 will have one – after all why would they give you everything right in the beginning? The other big disappointment for me is the lack of storage media. I would have loved to have seen a micro-sd slot in it. One of the larger surprises is the lack of flash support. This in essence for me is a feature. I hate flash. With a passion. I detest that my machine races every time a website starts displaying a flash video. The advancements of HTML5 will (hopefully) put flash out of it’s misery – Youtube are beta testing HTML5 as I type this. Could Apple be putting the nail in the coffin like it did the floppy disk drive?

Some of the good points – Obviously the screen is gorgeous. Back lit LED is the only way to go these days and sometimes I wonder why anyone accepts anything less. The touch interface has been matured an has been tried and tested thanks to the iPhone – and it really is very, very intuitive. My son, since the age of three years, has been able to navigate his way around the iPhone, such is the simplicity.

The ability to play games, watch movies, listen to music, read books and magazines as well as being able to browse with a full size browser makes it a really diverse device. Netbooks are bought so that they can do the above only on a smaller form factor laptop. But they suffer from poor performance and on most – woefully inadequate screens. Cheap and nasty.

Will this be the ‘Kindle Killer’ ? For what you get for almost $300 in a Kindle, compared to what you get for $500 in an iPad – it certainly does look like the Kindle may have killed itself with it’s pricing. With the capability of introducing rich media to books, newspapers and magazines, the iPad may actually change the landscape in this space. The Kindle offers very little other than being able to read a book or newspaper in mono on a weird looking screen.

As was the case with the iPod and iPhone, the app store will drive what can be done with the device. It will benefit from the fact that all existing apps for iPhone will work – although they did not say if you can use the one purchased app on both devices…

So this boils down to who will buy it… For sure, the fan bois. They have been drooling about this for way to long to not buy it now. I fall into the section of the market that wants a device in between my laptop and my phone. I believe that this is a sizeable market and at $500 – it’s not too big a gamble. Then there is the netbook crowd. Maybe thinking of buying one or maybe bought one and found that it is ok, but not really what they wanted. You will always have the show-offs and those who need every gadget on the market snapping these things up (maybe I fall into that category?)! And the last category is for the people buying something for their spouse / kids / parents etc. They need something to get on the web and could do without the complication of a full on computer.

So in essence the market is wide open. We have shown that we are ready for touch interface devices. This is evident in our insatiable desire for phones with these capabilities. We have also shown that we will not settle for rubbish, (Storm 1 anyone?) and that we are constantly demanding improvements in the existing technology.

The question will boil down to whether we have the extra money for a middle placed device.

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