Technology, journalism, social media and social responsibility
So that’s the bad news. The name sucks.
“I was really hoping Apple’s tablet wouldn’t be called ‘iPad’,” tweeted @ManyaS. “Sounds like a digital tampon.”
The good news is, everything else about Apple’s new iPad tablet computer is remarkable, and sure to wow just about any conceivable audience that might be remotely interested in it. There are a few remaining questions — chief among these being, “What carriers besides AT&T will support it?” and “Will anyone buy it?”
The graphics are superb, user interface is great, battery life is a whopping 10 hours (do we believe that?), and it’s about the right size to be a benefit to anyone (other than hardcore iPhone or Blackberry users) who needs mobility or compactness. In fact it’s managed by the same environment as the iPhone. A cool demo of the iPad can be seen here.
The odd size poses a legitimate user appeal question, and skeptics will wonder whether the additional functional and visual benefits are enough to offset the popular iPhone and other smart phone alternatives. Only time will tell.
Certainly, it’s got the full backing and support of presenter Steve Jobs, who according to a tweet by @jcounts, just two years ago declared that tablet computers were dead because “people don’t read anymore.” Perhaps the sorry state of journalism changed his mind, perhaps the obvious deal with the New York Times, ah, rekindled his interest, but whatever the motivation, he has clearly got religion…indeed, he’s bringing the tablet down from the mountain himself.
Today’s announcement hit key points of interest to a variety of markets and users, ranging from gamers to movie watchers to netizens to newspaper readers to techies. Along with the device, Apple announced a new version of iWork which, according to Engadget, “includes versions of the Pages, Numbers and Keynote, which will set you back $9.99 apiece, and are are each basically what you’d expect from iPad versions of the desktop application. It’s iWork you can touch, if you will.”
In addition, as James Kendrick noted in his blog today, the iPad is being pitched as an e-book reader, with its own new iBooks app. The app is standard e-book reader fare with support for the ePUB format, and it’s “backed by the brand spanking new iBookstore for purchasing digital books,” said Kendrick. “This puts the iPad in competition with the likes of the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook, with a notable exception — Apple already has the customer base on launch day.”
Evolutionary improvements were offered throughout the device, but the mobility factor, battery life, wireless everything and superior readability will bring in fans from everywhere, perhaps most notably the over-50 set, which has just about had it with micro-sized fonts and “keypads” and easy-to-loose compactness of the iPhones and Blackberries. However, with a price tag between $499 and $699, that’s just hefty enough to send many of these would-be users running the other way.
Indeed, there are many hidden costs as well. Because it’s basically wireless, everything will require subscriptions, so this device could easily soak up more subscription revenue than just about anything before it.
It will be interesting to see the industry pundits’ take on this new device. I know that earlier today, in background texts while watching streaming video of the Davos World Economic Forum’s Social Software session, Robert Scoble and others were expressing angst about the tablet computer’s potential to displace Twitter as a communications platform. It remains to be seen what environments and applications are supported by Apple.
From a purely technical perspective, it is a beautiful piece of engineering. Despite the fact that the form factor is similar to earlier tablets of a decade ago, the hardware inside and the touchscreen interface make it considerably more powerful and versitile. It’s orders of magnitude more robust than any tablet before it.
Another outstanding question will be how long it takes before the Taiwanese knock-offs start hitting the shelves. (Mashable has already identified nine potential competitors.) One could conjecture that it might be weeks or months, but my guess is that, without all the bells and whistles that Apple has applied to this device to make it attractive to various market segments, they will not be able to make a considerable dent in Apple’s share. For that reason, Apple’s only real competition is itself, it both the iPhone and Mac businesses…as well as, perhaps, Microsoft and Google in the applications spaces.
Certainly, the New York Times can breath a little easier…for now.
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[Photo credit: All photo credits to Engadget.]