You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
I’m sure that’s going through a few minds in Cupertino and other Apple offices around the world today. The brand that normally can do no wrong is now feeling the unfamiliar sting of consumers and tech mavens worldwide who believe their expectations have been thoroughly unmet.
Meanwhile, there’d be some smug faces strutting the halls of Redmond. Not that they really have any good reason to be.
But how much is Apple a victim of over-hype? Is the iPad really that bad or did people simply expect their wildest dreams to come true on Wednesday (Thursday in Australia).
The talk on the interwebs seems to have focused on several distinct areas:
- iPad vs Kindle vs myriad of TBC Windows/Android based tablets
- iPad software shortcomings
- iPad hardware shortcomings
- Community and open-computing FAIL
- iPad has basically ruined Christmas. Forever.
iPad vs Kindle vs myriad of TBC Windows/Android based tablets
This discussion has gone on everywhere.
Mashable has posted a nicely balanced iPad vs Kindle analysis and there has been a lot of talk about how good the iPad will really be as an e-reader, with its bright LED screen (vs. Kindle’s “gorgeous” e-ink display).
TechCrunch was, for me, a bit more realistic, simply listing the top 10 reasons Kindle is done for.
But the crux of this issue is simple: are you really going to buy a one-dimensional product like the Kindle when for US$10 more you could also have colour, the internet, email, gaming capabilities, the iWorks multimedia and productivity suite and around 140,000 applications offered by the iPad?
As for the all the other tablet devices rumoured to be released this year, well I personally believe that you can bank on them being overwhelmingly underwhelming. Aside from running clunky touch versions of Windows, they just don’t look to have the experience, user interface and community that comes with an Apple product.
If Google decides to enter this market in its own right, then we might see a product worth buying.
iPad software shortcomings
Yes, the current OS that the iPad is based on is quite depressing. Transplanting the now widely criticised iPhone OS directly into the iPad is a peculiar move by the normally shrew Apple folk. Google’s timing in launching the Nexus One earlier this month is proving a brilliant strategy as it has really put the spotlight on the deficiencies of the iPhone, and now iPad OS.
Personally, the iPad’s biggest software shortcomings would have to be:
- No multi-tasking (you can only run one app at a time)
- No Flash
- Having to ‘sync’ to update — a very cumbersome process.
However, it has been rumoured that Apple will release a major upgrade to the OS before the iPad ships (remember, you can’t even order it yet!). It’s all speculative and how many of these aspects that will address, if any, remains to be seen. But the point is that software shortcomings shouldn’t be too much of a concern. You can bet Apple is working hard to fix these sooner rather than later.
It’s also noteworthy that the touch interface Apple has delivered for the iPad appears to be quite simply amazing. You can see Apple showing it off here.
iPad hardware shortcomings
This is where Apple has really dropped the ball (not sure I’d go quite so far as to say FAIL though).
No camera, no HDMI, no USB ports, no SD ports.
The absence of a camera is baffling and massively limits the device as an alternative to a netbook, as Apple would have us believe.
None of these other aspects should come as a surprise though. Apple has a long history of forcing you to buy licensed hardware add-ons.
I will openly admit at this point that because of these shortcomings in particular, I will not buy the first-gen iPad. There’ll be a new one in 12 to 24 months time, or a more compelling alternative.
Community and open-computing FAIL
Apple has long been criticised for its closed-computing stance. But it’s also why it has such a phenomenally high share price (although, that said, it’s interesting to note Apple shares are down 6.67 percent on their ‘pre-iPad’ value). This is Apple’s revenue model, and they’re very protective of it.
But even self-confessed Apple ‘fanboi’ and digital-maven Robert Scoble had this to say:
“Oh, and one other weakness Apple has? Apple is clueless about social software. Google isn’t all that great either, but it is a world ahead of Apple. So, look at Google to make some major social networking moves this year to make its ecosystem a lot more interesting to the Facebook generation.”
However, this model works for Apple because they put so much effort into the design and useability of their products. iTunes did revolutionise the music industry, and many expect iBooks to do the same for publishing, especially if it succeeds in pushing the Kindle into obscurity (and I really think it will).
iPad has basically ruined Christmas. Forever.
This is the most amusing part of this whole saga.
An apparently ‘off-colour’ name has ruffled a few feathers and made it the butt of many jokes across the interwebs. But in this male, Gen Y writer’s opinion, only ‘old’ people picked up on this. A pad is something I write notes on. Enough said.
More importantly, it didn’t meet the utterly wild expectations that people had set for it. Graphic and industrial designers have for months now been creating flashy animations of what they dream a tablet device will be. They weren’t necessarily referring to the iPad, but it seems that’s how many have interpreted it.
As a society, we seem to have become obsessed with the future, at the expense of appreciating the reality of the present. For all those who where expecting something “more” in this sense from the iPad, I’d suggest you hold out for another five to ten years when these dreams are physically realised and commercially feasible.
However, if you haven’t seen Hitler’s reaction yet, it is very funny.
Anti-hype? What hype?!
The iPad is truly Apple becoming a victim of its own success. Tragically, it isn’t even Apple’s fault. All this hype around the iPad was consumer and media generated. Apple did not once fan these flames.
What were they supposed to do? Put out a statement in December or January saying, “Look, guys, this tablet thing we may or may not be releasing, it’s actually not going to be that awesome.”
Ultimately, Apple has released a very impressive product, but as with all new technologies, it will probably be snapped up by the ‘innovators’ and ‘early adopters’ while the masses (including myself) will wait for the second generation.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.