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Check Mate: Apple's iPad and Google's Next Move

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“I think this will appeal to the Apple acolytes, but this is essentially just a really big iPod Touch,” said Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, adding that he expected the iPad to mostly cannibalize the sales of other Apple products. - The New York Times

There is an axiom that the biggest game-changers often result from ideas that, at first blush, seem easy to dismiss. So it goes with yesterday’s launch of the iPad, Apple’s entry into what they call the ‘third category’ of device — the middle ground that exists between smartphone and laptop.

Why is the iPad (seemingly) so easy to dismiss? Well, for one, it is an evolutionary device when conventional wisdom suggests that it needs to be a revolutionary device to find a wedge into a new market.

After all, the iPod and iPhone that came before it were truly revolutionary devices, offering wholly new functionality, delivering new value chains, and fundamentally changing the relationship that consumers had with, first their media (in the case of iPod) and then their communications (in the case of iPhone).

By contrast, the iPad truly does look like a really big iPod Touch, and given its evolutionary nature, it begs the question of who buys this thing and why, especially if you already have a smartphone and a laptop?

Confusing the Tail with the Dog
Thus, a reasoned analysis is that the iPad is to the iPhone & iPod Touch as the MacBook Air is to the MacBook. In other words, a cool product with a devoted base of happy customers, but in relative terms, a niche product in Apple’s arsenal of rainmakers.

In fact, the opinion of the above-referred Forrester analyst is hardly unique. Quite the contrary. Check out the discussion boards across Engadget, AppleInsider, and Silicon Alley, to name a few, and do a twitter search on iPad, and the sentiment is 5 to 1 to the negative, with recurring phrases like ‘fail,’ ‘yawn,’ ‘over-hyped’ and ‘apple blew it.’ Heck, even two-thirds of the audience invited to Apple’s own event look bored, offering only feint applause when prompted by Apple CEO, Steve Jobs.

So is Apple hosed? Did they blow it? Not even close.

But before I get into the ‘Why,’ let me present, to set some contrast, a favorite saying within Google. Google, after all, is Apple’s open ‘ish’ frienemy, and the company who so many cite as being ‘destined’ to beat Apple in the mobile wars (if interested in that fork, check out ‘Android’s Inevitability and the Missing Leg‘). If what’s good for Google is not so good for Apple, then perhaps the opposite might be true, right?

In any event, within Google they like to say that what is good for the Web is good for Google, the premise being that the more the Web evolves as the core fabric from which applications, communications, entertainment, social engagement and information exchange proliferate around, the better it is for Google as the company that organizes it, makes it searchable, and then monetizes it via advertising.

So if what is good for the Web is what is good for Google, then what is good for Apple?

It’s the Platform, Stupid!
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As I am listening to and watching Steve Jobs deliver what very well could be his last launch of an entirely new product for the same company that he birthed (with Steve Wozniak) 34 years ago (in 1976), I am struggling with two conflicting sensibilities.

One is that some of the heart-stopping, holy-sh-t, gaming-changing aspects of Apple’s tablet creation still lie below the surface, like an iceberg that only reveals a fraction of its actual mass above the waterline. (More on that in a bit.)

In other words, add me to the list of expectant Kool Aid drinkers struggling (then) with a cupful of ‘that’s it?’ punch.

But, far more resonant is a second sense that a rapidly rising tide called iPhone Platform is lifting all boats derived from it; namely iPhone, iPod Touch and now iPad (and I still very much believe that Apple TV is due for a near-term reboot to plug into the same ecosystem).

And here’s the thing, if this was a presidential debate between Apple and Google for the hearts and minds of consumers, developers, media creators, publishers and businesses of all sizes, then the launch of the iPad is Apple’s closing argument for why they should be #1 (watch the full video, and let me know if you agree//disagree).

Consider this: A $50 billion company that is so profitable that in the last quarter alone they dropped another $5.8 billion of cash into their coffers (now they have $40 billion in cash). Assertion one: not only do we build great products, but we run our business the right way (read about Apple’s Q1, 2010 Earnings Call HERE).

No less, this same company has been the game-changing innovator at not only the inception of personal computing and not only in transforming the music business, but also the mobile phone. Assertion two: we are the only game-changing innovator who has both stood the test of time and repeatedly matched past successes with new successes.

But, here’s the kicker; in iPad, Apple is presenting multiple levels of leverage that virtually assure that they will be successful with this new entrant. Why? Because even if iPad (somewhat) cannibalizes sales of another Apple device, as the afore-mentioned Forrester analyst proffers, it’s money going out of one Apple pocket and into another.

In fact, far from shying away from this truth, Apple wholeheartedly embraces it, with Steve Jobs specifically noting in yesterday’s presentation that “because we’ve shipped over 75M iPhones and iPod Touches, there are already 75M people who know how to use the iPad.”

A note aside, this premise that existing iPhone and iPod Touch users simply pick up the iPad and know what to do with it is a concept that not only has been affirmed by virtually everyone I know who has played with the device, but is an idea that should be wholly unsurprising to anyone that currently owns either an iPod Touch or iPhone.

250M-iPod.pngNow, perhaps you might argue that that’s fool’s gold, tapping into a mine that is destined to run dry, but that belies the fact that Apple just recently sold their 250 millionth iPod, so I would argue that ‘there’s a lot more gold in them thar hills.’

And that is the key thing that you should take from the iPad launch event; namely, that being evolutionary and doing the same thing over again – by creating a derivative product from the original mastering effort (just as the iPod and iTunes gave rise to iPhone, iPod Touch and App Store) – is good strategy when the strategy not only is working in the market, but also rewards the investment your customers and partners have already made in your ecosystem.

apple-tablet-keynote_088.jpgAlong those lines, virtually the entire library of 140,000 iPhone Apps will run unmodified in iPad (with pixel for pixel accuracy in a black box, or pixel-double running in full-screen), a decision that takes care of both current iPhone Developers and iPhone/iPod Touch Owners. As you might expect, the same is true with iTunes libraries.

I can tell you that when I bought a second iPod Touch for my kids over the holidays, the premise that my entire library of apps and media (not to mention, photos) from my first iPod Touch could seamlessly be re-used in the new device was a bit of an ‘AHA’ moment. Leverage, after all, is a good thing.

Mind you, this is independent of the iPad-specific optimizations that developers can take advantage of within the updated SDK (a note aside, now with two flagship devices that are not phones, calling the platform ‘iPhone Platform’ seems decidedly out of date, and I noticed that in referring to the updated SDK, Jobs & Company referred to it as the SDK, versus iPhone SDK. Expect a developer event, likely tied to the release of iPhone OS 4.0, that brings some order to the naming confusion, in addition to formally conveying clearer constructs for harmonizing development across the two different form-factors).

Okay, one last chess move laid out by Apple yesterday, and seemingly, a more focused shot across the bow of Google, and their loosely-coupled approach, was the assertion that “we’re the only company that can deliver this type of solution with this price and performance.”

This point, which is also amplified on the Apple web site (check out the iPad intro video, which feels in its presentation style akin to getting the co-creators of iPad to sign their name on the product), is bolstered by the fact that the iPad is the first device using Apple’s own proprietary silicon – the A4 chip, the first offspring of the P.A. Semi acquisition – yet another piece in Apple’s proprietary integration chain, including battery technology (iPad touts ten-hour battery life), hardware design, software, developer tools and online services.

Google, your move.

The Good, Bad and (not so) Ugly of iPad
apple-tablet-keynote_050.jpgLet’s start with the good. The consistent refrain from users that have actually played with the device is that it is fast, surprisingly fast. As John Gruber of Daring Fireball notes, “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.” In other words, unlike netbooks, there is nothing underpowered about this device.

Secondly, is the fact that with over 1,000 sensors in the touch-based user-interface, Apple is effectively doubling down on the core belief that they have found the future of personal computing, and it doesn’t involve a mouse and a physical keyboard.

apple-creation-0337-rm-eng.jpgIn fact, noteworthy is that not only did Apple deign to completely re-design it’s iWork productivity suite for the iPad (it looks very functional,), but a number of the demos spotlighted how having a larger touch-based user interface facilitates all sorts of interesting innovation around virtual controller schemas, since you simply have more real estate to play with, and the level of sensor density translates to a high degree of responsiveness.

For example, EA’s re-work of their ‘Need for Speed SHIFT’ racing game showcases the ability to quickly toggle between the inside and outside of a race car, and the ability to change gears from the inside of the car, something unimaginable in the much smaller iPhone.

MLB-overlay.pngSimilarly, MLB (Major League Baseball) showcased their MLB app, which overlays graphics, information feeds, video clips and live game programming in a way that is simultaneously immersive, interactive and highly entertaining. It is both suggestive of a media-centric killer app for the IPad and a bellwether for the future of TV Anywhere, yet another reason that I believe Apple’s ambitions with respect to Apple TV remain very much alive.

Anecdotal, to be sure, but also pointing in the Apple TV direction, is the fact that iPad applications will be able to display content specifically targeted to an external display connected to the iPad (via the Dock connector), a capability that was never allowed with the iPhone SDK.

But the final bit of noteworthy, and compelling, good about iPad is that this just feels like the device that real people (read: non-techies) are going to flock to. For one, the intimidation factor of a tiny device, something that held back Baby Boomers, like my parents, suddenly becomes a non-issue, and, of course, there is the matter of the price.

At a $499 entry point, mass consumer is an achievable goal in due time (plus, no pricing overhang for competitors to swoop in).

So what’s not to like? Well, for starters, Apple was slim on the details behind their vision for tablet-optimized applications, although it’s worth noting that the iPhone SDK didn’t actually launch into beta until a full eight months after the release of the first iPhone. In other words, the developer side of the iPad story has a second act that is forthcoming, no doubt gated by the extreme secrecy leading up to the device’s launch.

hero7_20100127.pngSimilarly, while iPad lays clear Apple’s ambition to pursue the e-book market aggressively (they demonstrated a nice iBooks player and added an iBook Store to complement the iTunes and App Store marketplaces), they demonstrated virtually nothing that harnesses the touch, tilt, rich media and programmatic elements that they can bring to the re-invention of print media.

This could be gated on the aforementioned developer’s event or on difficulties with the print media industry, but it’s worth level setting that what they launched is, more or less, iterative to the Kindle’s value proposition (Jobs even gave props to Amazon in the presentation) than a complete disruptor.

Other random quibbles are the lack of a camera in iPad (for video conferencing, augmented reality apps and plain old photo taking); a lackluster carrier value proposition on the 3G version of the iPad; and for some, the continued (and I assume permanent) lack of support for Adobe Flash. But these are quibbles, not what I consider showstoppers that stand in the way of iPad’s eventual success.

Netting it out: The best way to think about iPad is as the device that inspired Steve Jobs to create the iPhone and the iPod Touch. It’s the vaunted 3.0 vision of a 1.0 deliverable that began its public life when the first generation of iPhone launched only two-and-a-half years ago, and as I wrote about previously HERE, it is a product that is deeply personal to Steve Jobs, and I believe the final signature product on an amazing career. I would view yesterday’s launch in that light.

Related Posts:

  1. Rebooting the Book: One iPad at a Time
  2. iPad: The ‘Boomer’ Tablet
  3. It’s in the Bag! The Apple Tablet Computing Device
  4. The Chess Masters: Apple versus Google
  5. Holy Sh-t! Apple’s Halo Effect

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  • luis Alejandro Masanti

    quote:
    “it is a product that is deeply personal to Steve Jobs, and I believe the final signature product on an amazing career. I would view yesterday’s launch in that light.”

    Steve did it in 1997 with the iMac; in 2001 with the iPod and 2003 with iTunes; and in 2007 with the iPhone. Now, its 2010.

    Almost one strike every 4 years!

    I hope he still alive and full working by his big next presentation on 2015!

    And maybe, by 2020 he will get the second in a row “CEO of the decade”!

  • Mark Sigal

    @luis, pretty incredible track record. not only making great products but doing so profitably. thanks for the thoughts.

  • Alex Tolley

    “…that existing iPhone and iPod Touch users simply pick up the iPad and know what to do with it is a concept … idea that should be wholly unsurprising to anyone that currently owns either an iPod Touch or iPhone.’

    and..

    “virtually the entire library of 140,000 iPhone Apps will run unmodified in iPad”.

    This is exactly the same argument that was used to affirm decisions to stay with DOS and not migrate to Windows. How did that work out?

    The iPhone OS is functionally similar to DOS – single apps at a time, although it does maintain their state, rather like flipping screens. This is fine for iPhones and iPods, but I suspect will become annoying for users who expect to be able to run different apps at the same time and need that functionality. Even the Safari browser with only one URL open at a time will seem extremely annoying in comparison to devices running multi-tabbed browsers.

    Lack of UI consistency didn’t hamper the growth of Windows vs Mac OSs, nor the growth of web page UIs. It seems attractive on first blush, but is less important than what how it affects functionality. I do not buy the idea that people who expect apps to work (like iWork?) on the device will easily live with the crippled, 1980′s style of working.

    “quibbles are the lack of a camera in iPad (for video conferencing, augmented reality apps and plain old photo taking)”

    On the contrary, I suspect the decision to allow regular cameras to interface was a good idea.

    What I think will disappoint is the low resolution of the images iPhone OS allows. Even allowing for higher rez pics for the larger screen, this might be well below what most cameras can create and thus limit its usefulness in this domain. The iPhone pics are mainly for carrying around favorite images and doing quick snaps, not for handling quality photos. I look forward to understanding how this is handled.

    As an iPhone owner, I am interested in how the the contractless 3G plans will impact the market. Is this a foray by AT&T to start to think about how they will live in a world where WiFi increasingly obsoletes cell towers, or a world in which the phone is not locked to carrier and can switch to lowest bidders?

  • Geoff Butterfield

    It’s interesting that your post is one of a few other posts slowly creeping out of the interwebs post launch day that share a common refrain — that there is more to the iPad then just the technology. I couldn’t agree more. Would I have been excited if this was an open device? sure. Is that why I want one? No. I think most of the pundits and technophiles are missing the forest for the trees.

    I have a laptop. I have a desktop. What I really want is to be able to do is consume media comfortably, something that laptops don’t do very well. You can make it work, but it isn’t great. You know what I’m most excited about?

    iPad + Safari Online = awesome! :-)

  • bowerbird

    marc-

    it’s a good thing the ipad won’t come out for 60 days.

    gives me enough time to try to schedule an appointment
    to fit in an afternoon to read this lengthy tome of yours…

    -bowerbird

  • Guy At HockeyBais dot com

    The lack of multitasking is a bog turn off for me; it would be nice to listen to music (for example) while using the device for surfing the web.

  • Jack DeNeut

    @GuyAtHockey Apple doesn’t allow multitasking for third-party apps, but they allow it for their own apps. On the iPhone, it’s possible to listen to music while surfing the web – I’d be surprised if this isn’t also possible on the iPad.

  • Anonymous

    Heck, even two-thirds of the audience invited to Apple’s own event look bored, offering only feint applause when prompted by Apple CEO, Steve Jobs.

    Argh. Please substitute either ‘faint’ or ‘feigned’ for ‘feint’.

    Thanks.

  • Ben K in LA

    “The lack of multitasking is a bog turn off for me; it would be nice to listen to music (for example) while using the device for surfing the web.”

    You will be able to listen to music and surf at the same time, just as you can with the iPhone now.

  • Mac

    “After all, the iPod and iPhone that came before it were truly revolutionary devices, offering wholly new functionality…”

    What part of the iPod was a revolutionary device? It had no new technology that the other mp3 players of the time didn’t have with the exception of larger storage capacity. That’s evolutionary, not revolutionary. It really bothers me when people regurgitate the Apple marketing jargon and throw around words like revolutionary without logical reason.

    I respect the opinion that, if looking at the big picture, Apple has done something impressive by reducing cost, size, and complexity in the tablet PC market. But to call what they have done revolutionary is a misnomer in my opinion because none of their ideas are original. Apple is less an innovator in design than an innovator in marketing. I will however concede that the iPhone was a brilliant step forward in design.

  • Ravi Mohan

    The title is pretentious.

    Let’s see. Who has “Check Mate”d who?? CheckMate is the end of a chess game where one side unambigously wins over the other.

    If anything the game is just beginning.

    Oh yeah and what is “Google’s Next move?” Does the author ever make that clear? Or did he just throw it into the title for effect?

  • Adam

    “You will be able to listen to music and surf at the same time, just as you can with the iPhone now”

    …true, as long as you only use iTunes, but what if I want to listen to music from last.fm at the same time as surf the web?

    As Mac says above, I had a Archos mp3 player about 2 years before the first iPod came out, and various touch screen smart phones years before the iPhone, the only thing revolutionary about the Apple versions of these was Apples ability to make them shiny and dumb enough for normal people to understand why they might want them.

  • Brett (@brettvallis)

    I can’t believe how short-sighted people are being – it doesn’t do exactly what they want out of the box, so they lynch it.
    It’s both a platform and an user experience!
    My kids desperately want to interact with my computers but a keyboard and a mouse just isn’t intuitive/responsive enough. Touchscreen is perfect.
    In ’99 I developed an IR controlled distributed sound system for large public spaces. I used a horrible line-of-sight IR remote to control it. It was the worst part of the solution and the most important part to the user. Nowadays it would be IP based, using the iPad as an always connected, mobile controller – beautiful.
    Two very different use cases. There are plenty more. There may be devices that could do what I need, or could be developed to do what I need, but the convergence factor is incredibly powerful. And it’s not just device convergence, but device and experience convergence: comfortable, easy to use by anyone (even with disabilities) and capable of interacting with myriad electronic systems. A good home automation controller unit will cost just as much – and you won’t be doing anything else with it. Just write the software to interface.
    Technical features will be added to over time. It’s not a dead-end, all-or-nothing device. This is a platform and an user experience which will take computing to people, rather than force people to sit at their computers. That’s the much needed evolution, or revolution needed to really connect with everyone.

  • G.Irish

    I think the iPad could be a huge hit when the 2nd gen comes out but right now it’s missing some major things as a computing platform.

    I think opinions on the iPad depend on what you see it as. If you’re looking at it as a Kindle competitor then it kicks ass. $200 more, but you get a lot more functionality although you may give up some readability.

    However, if you look at it as a computing device that competes with netbooks and low-end laptops it’s a miss. Jobs tried to say it is better than netbooks and clearly it is not. No USB, much smaller hard drive, minimal multitasking, tie-in to the iTunes apps store, no flash support, no SD card reader, no physical keyboard(sorry but the keyboard dock doesn’t count), and no removable battery. If one were to use this as a computing device to get work done it is sorely lacking.

    I think if you gave the iPad USB and SD port and flash support at the least you’d have a much more compelling argument for those looking for a computing device. But as it stands the netbook fits those needs much better.

  • Cintra

    “Google, your move”

    Count on it!

    Although a multi-Mac user, I for one look forward to Google’s next moves, in particular their Android tablets.

    Watch your back Apple, there’s a runner closing up on you fast..

    Mvh

  • BobH

    I don’t think people appreciate what the lack of multitasking means. You want to use a Twitter app while you’re reading e-mail or surfing the web? Sorry. You want to listen to Pandora while you’re running other apps? Nope.

    Imagine having to close your browser every time you want to run one of your 200 other apps. Not very appealing to me.

  • Mark Sigal

    @Alex, I think that there is a fundamental difference relative to your DOS v. Windows analog. Windows was a response to an overall better user experience pioneered by Apple, and DOS was losing the game in terms of market and mindshare. By contrast, plenty of gripes to be sure, but both users and developers generally consider the iPhone and iPod Touch the best and most personal computing device out there.

    What you call crippled and 80s-style is, to date, a runaway freight train, but I agree with you that Apple will face a choice between how much they want to enable this to be a serious computing device vs. managed computing experience, something I blogged about in my Boomer Tablet post.

    Re the carrier side, I agree, and am not sure how much this is driven by Apple wanting to keep options open and how much is neither side knowing what right economics are. One frustrating thing is that as an iPhone owner with an unlimited data plan, logic would suggest that you’d get some material benefit for having second device on same plan.

    Thanks again for the value-added perspective.

  • Mark Sigal

    @Geoff, thanks for the comments. I think that we in the power user universe forgot the broad appeal of simple, elegant devices that just work. Along those lines, I was more than a little surprised to find friends and family who are COMPLETELY disconnected from all things tech very aware and interested in yesterday’s event in a way that even iPhone didn’t register for them.

    @bowerbird, the truth hurts. make sure to be drinking some vino with the piece so that you can get an especially good night’s sleep.

    @Mac, I think that there is a tendency in this business to equate revolutionary with split the atom technology innovation, whereas the hard part is usually making the concept work. In case of iPod, Apple took a segment that was dominated by geeks and pirates and turned into a mainstream consumer solution to the tune of 250M devices, a model that set the stage for Apple’s growth that came behind it. Did Henry Ford start a revolution even though he didn’t invent the car? History would clearly say yes. A side comment is that a common meme is to dismiss what Apple has accomplished as some kind of marketing or packaging “gimmick,” which I’d argue is intellectually lazy. You may fool consumers once, but when you do it quarter after quarter, year after year, in good times and even more impressive, in a horrific recession, that’s a by-product of a lot more than “marketing.”

    @Ravi, I like to confuse people, usually myself. Thanks for pointing out my miscue. Seriously, though, I stated pretty clearly that Google and Apple are fighting for the #1 spot in multiple, game-changing segments, and based upon Google’s recent move in rolling out the Nexus Phone (and directly competing with their handset OEMs), I would say their move points to emulating more of what Apple is doing; namely, trying to provide the end-to-end. But, you are right, the game is not over.

  • sep332

    @Ravi: To listen to last.fm, just open a new tab while surfing.

  • Ty Kilbourn

    I think this article, while great in that it offers a novel suggestion about the future potential of the AppleTV/iPad ecosystem (and SDK platform), has an overarching theme of desperate and enthusiastic sentimentalism. It’s another Google kickdown article that waves the banner of Apple’s device-oriented orientation. In the end, there is a longterm fear from Apple enthusiasts that Google’s 21st century business model will out flank Apple.

    Nevertheless, I do not believe, in the short term, that Apple have much to worry about. The iPad is a great product. And although the evolutionary product, the iPad, was met with lackluster approval and fears of sales cannibalization (altho it fared much better than ChromeOS), it is a great product to the market.

  • Steve Bryan

    “I had a Archos mp3 player about 2 years before the first iPod came out, and various touch screen smart phones years before the iPhone, the only thing revolutionary about the Apple versions of these was Apples ability to make them shiny and dumb enough”

    This is your understanding? For the iPhone they made an OS and provided an SDK, both of which were incomparably better than anything from the multibillion dollar incumbent companies. The hardware was none too shabby either (especially the multi touch screen) but the software was the key.

    For the iPod Apple built the iTMS so that the device would be useful for people besides people who like to tinker with gadgets. Apple also aggressively improved the hardware and lowered prices on a schedule that left their competitors in the dust.

    To claim it is about making things shiny and dumb just shows how shallow your understanding really is.

  • Stephen Jacob

    @Alex Tolley:

    While the decision to allow regular cameras to interface is a good one, that in no way addresses the problem of the lack of a built-in camera.

    For taking photographs … maybe that is fine[1], but the iPad really ought to have a user-facing camera. Think the camera built in to the frame of MacBook and MacBook Pro screens. The ability to interface with an external camera does not satisfy the same requirements.

    While the iPad is somewhere in between an iPhone/iPod Touch and a laptop or netbook, I would have liked to see it be more useful as a substitute for a laptop than as a small improvement on using one’s phone. So … I can well imagine people wanting to video conference using it or to snap a “photo booth” type shot of themselves to post to Facebook or … whatever. It really does seem like rather a notable omission not to have such a camera available.

    Regards,
    Stephen

    [1] I can’t quite decide whether it would matter if it has a camera suitable for taking photographs or not. I mean, I have a digital camera that takes good pictures but I still use the crappy camera in my phone when I want to take a photograph and don’t have my camera with me. While it would be a bit unwieldy to take a photograph with a tablet, maybe people might have the same desire (“I don’t have my camera with me and … well, it won’t be the best, but I could snap a shot with my iPad”).

  • kevin

    @Stephen: Apple has a patent for embedding a camera throughout the display. I just think it wasn’t ready for mass production.

    @Alex: Doesn’t it strike you that the lack of sales by anyone other than Apple in mp3 players for 8 straight years has to be caused by something more than brilliant marketing?

    @Ty: Can the Google combination of advertising-supported commerce and open software outflank Apple?
    Or will Apple’s integrated device platform and App ecosystem put a front-end on the Internet and thus reduce the importance of Internet search?

  • kevin

    Should’ve said @Mac instead of @Alex.

  • ed

    Checkmate? Apple’s creepy attempt to diminish the web so as to facilitate their desire to put a “magical” toll gate in front of it will thankfully fail.

  • NQ Logic

    With the launch of the iPad tablet, Apple has managed to become the ultimate digital go-between company for high quality and high price content in a small yet very affluent segment of the population … NQ Logic encourages you to check out why Apple’s iPad is the final digital puzzle for their ultimate connected consumer strategy at http://www.nqlogic.com

  • Maren Kate

    Whatever happens, I think there’s going to be huge money to be made in iphone/ipad apps because of this.

  • Jason Grigsby

    “But the final bit of noteworthy, and compelling, good about iPad is that this just feels like the device that real people (read: non-techies) are going to flock to. For one, the intimidation factor of a tiny device, something that held back Baby Boomers, like my parents, suddenly becomes a non-issue, and, of course, there is the matter of the price.”

    I think the opposite is going to be true–the iPad is really only going to appeal to heavy Internet and technology consumers. At least in the near term this will be true.

    The trouble is that the things that held back your parents still exist. As far as we can tell, the iPad still requires iTunes for software upgrades, backups, etc.

    Everyone who owns an iPad will need to have it as an addition to a computer, not as a replacement for one.

    In the long run, I think there is a good possibility that Apple will use this as their entry into the “computer for the rest of us” category. The machine you get when you need to get things done occasionally, but primarily want to browse the web, watch video, etc. The perfect thing for people who don’t spend their days interacting with computers.

    But they’ve got a lot of pieces of the current computer infrastructure that they are going to need to address in order to pull it off. Software updates, printing, etc. Until they complete that work, it is an addition, not a replacement product.

    For people who don’t use technology all of the time, they don’t want to spend a lot of money on technology. They’re going to ask themselves if they can simply spend $499 and be done. The answer is no. Once they realize that, they will buy whatever laptop or desktop machine will suffice and be done with it.

  • Jeremy G

    I will wait for the Taiwan copy of iPad that WILL play Flash and WILL multi-task and WILL allow Skype and will be half the price…

  • Simdude

    It’s amazing to hear the talk of failure on the web. We heard the same about the iPod. What? another mp3 player. And one that isn’t even as good technically as others out there? It will fail! ditto for the iPhone.

    And yet these people still don’t get it. It isn’t about having the best specs in every category. Or the one feature you claim must be in this device. It’s about a completely smooth, well designed device that makes the technology vanish while you get the benefits of it.

    Look at how most people use computers. They browse the web for information and communicate via email, VOIP, social networking. I’m not talking about technical oreilly people. I mean the world. People don’t NEED computers in the traditional sense anymore. Pulling an iPad out of the drawer and reading the news, catching up on email is perfect for most. Yeah, if you need to type a long document, you can use the dock and keyboard, but even this can go away in time. Try the Dragon app on your iPhone for speech to text. This stuff is getting usable now. It’s not there yet, but it will be.

    And the iPad will not remain the same. I see a second rev with a camera for visual Skype etc. And new apps we aren’t even thinking about. This is a cool platform to develop for. It took MLB about 2 weeks to come up with an updated app for the iPad. Ok, I’m sure this isn’t ready for prime time, but it was an impressive work for such a short time. If you missed the iPhone wave, you NEED to get the SDK and start digging now. I know I am.

    And for those that can’t envision the potential, join the club that missed the iPod and iPhone too.

  • Mark Sigal

    @G. Irish, while I think that you are right that a lot of this depends on the context of the buyer and their goals, I think that you fall into a common trap of the tech biz; namely confusing attributes with outcomes. Customers generally buy based upon outcome goals relative to perceived or real constraints. Most of what you frame – USB, hard drive size, minimal multitasking, no flash support, no SD card reader, no physical keyboard(sorry, no removable battery is an attribute. The Apple approach is decidedly outcome focused – no better example than “there’s an app for that.” Now, don’t me wrong, if Hulu is reason for wanting an on-the-go device like this, and it requires flash (it does) then it’s a non-starter for you. In my world, there are too few cases where I find myself needing flash relative to the resource and reliability hog factor to miss it. They key point being, focus on what you are trying to do the majority of your time with the device, rather than the ingredients within it or the edge cases that you might need on a rainy day. Thanks again for the thoughts.

    @Cintra, totally agreed. Competition is a good thing, and Google zigs where Apple zags. I tend to be more of a fan in the Apple approach, but that’s why they serve 31 flavors at the ice cream store.

    @ed, people who frame when apple is doing as creepy or evil or sneaky, must have a low opinion of the customers who buy the products and the developers who develop them because not only is the sentiment very high on both fronts but the hard market data, quarter by quarter, year by year supports same. that’s not to say apple is perfect, benevolent or doesn’t force choices upon their constituency. they do, which is part and parcel of delivering an “experience” over selling ingredients.

    @Jason, great perspective; your counter-perspective and pushback is certainly fair, and although with wireless iTunes, App Store and iBook Store, the Mac/PC based client is only required if you want to be able to sync, upgrades today is probably another matter, ruling out the consumer who has no existing computing device. That said, there are a heck of a lot of folks that have a desktop PC or Mac that they barely use, aren’t laptop buyers, never got the music player, and for them, this is a wedge, although I definitely don’t disagree that techie households, especially ones with families and what not, this is an obvious ADDITIONAL device (to your point).

    @Jeremy G, have at it. That “clone” you talk about won’t run any of the 140K apps and growing that run on the iPhone Ecosystem, which is kind of like getting a DirecTV clone that doesn’t run HBO or Showtime. In other words, an iPad clone that doesn’t run iPad Apps isn’t a clone, which is fine for some.

    @Simdude, right on brother. Trying to explain native apps and optimized user experience to those who haven’t used it (or are perfectly happy with the status quo, think the web is good enough) is folly and fine. Kids generally instantly get the difference, though.

  • Phil

    Too many parentheses in this article (they interrupt the flow of my reading) that could be avoided with a smoother writing style (at least, that’s what I was taught in journalism school). When I start an article and get distracted by too many parenthetical comments, I stop reading (sorry about that).

  • Mark Sigal

    @Phil, I was going to comment on your comment by playing with parenthesis, but then I realized that that was your thang, the approach being so subtle, as to be effective and immently readable. ;-)

    Actually, appreciate the nudge. Forces me to untangle my internal, in the head, narrative.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  • Andrew Lombardi

    iPhone allows you to play music in the background using “Apple approved” apps. They run in the background, and there’s no reason to think this won’t be the case in the iPad as well.

    Only bummer is for third party apps like Pandora, won’t be any hope for running these in the background right now

  • G.Irish

    I may have listed a bunch of attributes that the iPad doesn’t have, but even if you examine the device in terms of outcomes there are still a lot of places it would come up short if you’re a user who is looking for a computing device, not an e-reader+.

    No SD card or USB slot means you need to bring an adapter when you want to download media to your iPad. Whether it be from a camera or some files on a USB drive. Granted the iPad has an available USB adapter I think all can agree that a built in USB port would be better.

    The smallish hard drive may not bother some if the iPad is meant to be a companion to a desktop or laptop. Still, for people who want to travel and watch movies on it they’ll need a little more HD space. I also think with some more space the iPad could be really handy for content editing/creating. I think photographers could get a lot of use out of a touchscreen image review/editing app (a touchscreen optimized version of Photoshop or Lightroom maybe?). Or imagine a Video DJ app.

    Apple showed iWork for the iPad and demoed someone typing with the word processor. Typing into a touchscreen like that is not going to be very productive, at least compared to a physical keyboard. I’m not saying that Apple should include a built-in real keyboard but that’s a point where a netbook is going to be a ton better.

    No Flash or Silverlight precludes one from viewing a lot of video on the internet, not just Hulu. I watch a lot of video through Netflix instant streaming, the iPad won’t be able to do that (since Netflix uses Silverlight). A lot of sites like ESPN use Flash video too and again you can’t watch any of it with the iPad. I think that limitation is palatable on a phone but for something that Steve Jobs proclaims is ‘better than a netbook’ that is unacceptable.

    I think it was a big mistake for Jobs to compare the iPad to a netbook because there are a host of needs a netbook can meet that the iPad cannot. I think the tablet form factor opens the possibility for the iPad to do different things from a netbook, but I don’t think the iPad is ‘better’. I also think that the unveil did very little to demonstrate what the iPad could do that a netbook couldn’t.

  • Mark Sigal

    @G. Irish, my personal belief is that relative to market needs and segment thinking that you are dead-on that Apple/Jobs are best avoiding getting sucked into the netbook bucket discussion exactly for the reasons that your flag.

    As to slots and storage sizes, Apple has never worried about not having enough of the former (they killed the floppy when it seemed like a heretic decision), figuring less is usually (but not always) more, and the latter is easily remedied as market needs dictate, although I agree with you in the sense that if this is heavily a MEDIA device, HD movies suck up storage fast. $499 entry point was a clear 1.0 driver.

    The Flash one is a conundrum that Apple has made their decision on (I believe), and there are strong arguments on both sides.

    Thanks again for the detailed thoughts.

    Mark

  • MoT

    I have to agree with a previous poster who identified how short-sighted people can be. I remember when the first iPod came out and I thought to myself, “Wow! Pretty neat but I don’t have a spare $500 laying around for this portable juke box so I’ll focus my shekels on a nice laptop instead”. Little did I know, or envision, how that one little device (and not all that original even) would lift the market like a rising tide lifts all boats. And so it went from iteration to iteration and onto the iPhone and spilled over into their notebooks and now into this. Just like the first generation iPod and iPhone this device will test and seed the foundation for its siblings and some, and certainly not all, of the whining and complaining may get addressed. Some folks you can’t please even if you hanged them with a new rope.

  • Walt French

    “This is exactly the same argument that was used to affirm decisions to stay with DOS and not migrate to Windows. How did that work out?”

    Pretty damn well for MS Windows, thank you. It allowed people to preserve their existing, easy-to-program apps, easily port anything that’d been coded to CP/M-86, while still getting the WYSIWYG benefits of Word. Despite the Mac breaking ground in ’84 with the first popular GUI, the first PC LAN, the first desktop publishing, …, just a couple of short years later, MS was in the driver’s seat. Flexibility — not having to trust that this Windows thing was going to work out — was paramount.

  • Walt French

    A little help here?

    I recall getting “Inside Macintosh” or some other Apple programmer’s guide in 1984, and wondering about the first sentence or so, laying out that it was a single user, single task environment. (Alas, I don’t see that expression in the online IM that I just dredged up.) Anybody have the materials handy?

    The Moto 68000 had some support for multi-tasking. Why did Apple intentionally leave it out? It wasn’t until a few years later that I connected it with Wirth’s statement that computer language designers should give more thought to what they leave out than what they put in.

    Apple has obviously given serious consideration as to what to leave out from a tablet that really wants to be all-capable, powerful, with a detailed 16X9 screen and 30 hours battery life crammed into a 12-oz foldable package. Truth is, it is introducing it into a very uncertain economic climate for many people. Gold bling is out this year. (I’d argue that Sun Micro’s commitment to its powerful Niagra series, intro’d during the dot bomb bursting with the resultant level of non-sales, is the primary reason that Sun ceased to exist last month.)

    My own guess is that the iPlatform will succeed in no small part because exactly half the US population is less “computer literate” than the median. No dedicated IT support team, no experience chasing down apps on Version Tracker, never tried to set their DNS settings, etc. Their friends can tell them about MLB.Com, but going to dozens of sites and thru the hassle of checkout carts and credit card exposure to unknowns to get a little BMI calc, or a Chinese-English dictionary, or flyer editor, or … is too much. iPad is the product for those people, limited perhaps only by the requirement of syncing to a desktop… can the cloud be far behind?

    And much of the above-average half of the US values its time at more than the $15/hour that being computer janitors saves us. When Apple has a can’t-screw-it-up metaphor for app switching (it may not look like multi-tasking and I’ll guess won’t have windows), and we sophisticates can get our work/play done without too much old-fashionedness, the iPad takes over the market, and you’ll see bigger, more flexible, etc versions.

  • Henry M. Goodelman

    Mr. Sigal, your comment: “It’s the Platform, Stupid!” rings true that the ipod’s OS is revolutionary in terms of the availability of a touch screen computer, or laptop, or netbook, or tablet, or any other way it can be referred to as.

  • Mark Sigal

    @Henry, @Walt French and @MOT, the good news is today is when we start getting to the real data so a lot of the conjecture of good, bad or indifferent around iPad will start to get anchored by actual facts. Estimates for the first two hours are 50K units sold. Great start, but obviously as much a marathon as a race.

    Btw, some might find this interesting: a slide show on how the larger screen real estate of iPad relative to iPhone (512% more) changes the equation on UI design: http://post.ly/RzxK.

    Check it out.

    Mark

  • Susan Jones

    The Apple iPad is simply awesome and will really change the mobile computing market place, I cant wait to see what the next generation of iPad will bring.