iPad sir? No thank you.
I have held back,until now, in commenting on Apple’s recent launch of the iPad. One thing you have to give credit to Apple for is building the tension, I hesitate to say hype, prior to a launch. Most technology companies are happy to have journalists review prototypes over several months which dilutes the impact when the final version is launched. Apple managed to release just enough titbits to make us hungry for information at the launch.
It is fair to say that the iPad has been a disappointment. It is missing an OLED screen, a built-in projector, web-cam, microphone USB ports, HDMI, SD card slot, a SIM card slot and of course replacement battery. Some of these will be provided, but at extra cost using adaptors. Some of you will immediately cry that all those ports would go counter to its slim, attractive design. However, many others, myself included, will decry the fact that Apple have again produced a device clearly part of their locked-down platform strategy. Equally frustrating is the lack of support for Adobe Flash, which will mean that it will not be able to work with some websites, but most importantly it will not allow multi-tasking. So if you are used to streaming music whilst working, or even doing downloads in the background – forget it.
Apple have not created a ‘new’ type of device – as was hoped for. It is not the killer device which would define how we would enter the cloud era. However, it may attract new buyers who have not yet owned a laptop or netbook, and once they use the iPad they are unlikely to ever purchase a conventional laptop. As Apple has not yet released any iPads for review or produced iPad apps perhaps we are jumping the gun a little, or are we just disappointed at a missed opportunity?
It will function as an eBook reader, challenging the Kindle (at least in the USA). Perhaps this is in order to exploit another revenue stream with its new e-book service, very unimaginatively called iBooks. As their iPod, in its various guises, now account for more than 70% of the global sales of MP3 players, books will be a useful addition to music. It has also been suggested, but not by Apple, that this will mean the end of the iTouch. The iPad is priced close to the iTouch, but includes a significantly larger screen and a number of new features.
There are other innovative devices worthy of consideration. The Kohjinsha DZ dual screen netbook is one. At first glance it looks like a conventional 10″ netbook, until you grasp the screen and slide out the second 10″ screen behind it – very impressive. You might also check the Archos 7 tablet, running on Android – a device which is the antithesis of the locked-down, do-it-my-way, iPad. Microsoft are currently working with HP on their rival, called the Slate. Would I buy an iPad? No, at least not in its first iteration. I will also wait to see what other manufacturers produce.