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iPad

iPad Cometh

iPad with iPhone and Bluetooth Keyboard

By: Tony Pittman [ tony@getthenext.com ]

Apple's iPad arrived, as planned, on April 3, 2010. Some analysts estimate that as many as 700,000 iPads were delivered to customers on launch day, making iPad one of the most successfully launched consumer products of all time. Prior to launch, some pundits panned the iPad, calling it nothing more than an overgrown iPhone, without the phone.  Well, in some respects they turned out to be correct.  iPad is larger than iPhone.  iPad can't make phone calls.  But, wow...it can sure do a lot of things well.

First, the most unexpected surprise: iPad's speaker.  I wasn't expecting much in this department.  I figured that Apple would include the obligatory speaker - a plain, unimpressive component that would just be enough to get by with.  Wow, was I wrong.  iPad's speaker is very robust for its size.  I was honestly astounded by the loud, clear, and dynamic sound.

Next, you'll be amazed by iPad's battery life.  By making the device so much bigger than iPhone, Apple was able to do wonders with battery life.  So far, I have no reason to doubt Apple's claim of 10+ hours of continuous use on one charge.  After a day of hard use, I've hardly been able to make a dent.  The battery life is impressive, to say the least.

The on-screen keyboard exceeded my expectations. I was mentally prepared for a new experience, remembering what is was like the first time I used an iPhone keyboard.  iPad's keyboard does not disappoint, especially in landscape mode.  Granted, I wouldn't want to use it to write a novel, so I did pick up one of Apple's $69 bluetooth keyboards.  But, for short bursts of text, the on-screen keyboard is more than adequate.

Finally, the muli-touch IPS display is nothing short of mind-blowing. Prior to iPad's launch, I was thinking more and more about how great it would be to be able to use my Kindle DX as a truly connected, dynamic device.  I found myself wanting to touch the Kindle's display and try to manipulate the connected internet world.  But, everything was just beyond my, and the Kindle's, grasp.  Well, no more.  iPad's multi-touch display not only produced brilliant images, but it's responsiveness is off the charts.  It responds to your touches instantly, allowing you to truly escape into a world that I thought to still be years and years away.  Many had said that you can't appreciate iPad until you have a chance to hold it in your hands and feel how it works.  They were right.

iPad vs. Kindle: The debate Apple should have started.

(Image courtesy of www.redmondpie.com)

No matter what you think of the recently announced Apple iPad, it's clear that no other company gets the attention Apple gets when announcing a new product.  For Apple, this is generally a good thing.  But, they need to make sure they get everything right: the product itself as well as the product positioning.

When it comes to the iPad, they got the product right, but they botched the positioning a bit.

The iPad is a Kindle killer, no doubt about it.  In June, 2009, I paid $489 for my Kindle Dx.  The Kindle Dx is roughly the same formfactor as the iPad, which starts at $499 .  However, the Kindle Dx can't hold a candle to the iPad.  The Kindle can't play video, doesn't have a color screen, can't run apps, and can barely (and I mean BARELY) browse the web. No bones about it, Apple did just as Steve jobs said in his presentation. They stood on Amazon's shoulders and took the Kindle Dx form factor to much higher heights.  Had Apple stuck with this positioning, is there any way the iPad could lose? Now, the Kindle does come with always-on 3G and no monthly fee.  But, for $629 and $14.99/month, most prospective iPad users would still say there is no competition; the iPad is the better play.

The mistake Apple made: asserting that geeks will be able to replace their netbooks with iPads.  This is clearly not going to happen. This assertion reminded me of when Steve said he replaced his high-end audio system with the failed Apple Hi-Fi.  No way.  Netbooks are cheaper, they run Windows, Linux, and some even run Max OSX illegally.  Users can choose what apps run on them, and they can multi-task, though usually to their detriment.  Why fight this battle?  Let the netbooks run their course.

So, the bottom line is pretty clear.  Apple should have positioned the iPad as a revolutionary device that builds in the initial success of the base eReader.  It adds rich multi-media capabilities, gaming, app-store access, and it can even help you get work done in a pinch.  For some, with the added keyboard dock, it can even serve as their complete mobile computing solution.

Strangely, I have not heard anyone complain about the fact that the Kindle Dx can not multi-task, has a worthless browser, and can only run apps that Amazon allows it to run.  Apple is re-discovering that it's tough to be on top.  Shouldn't they have learned this from their 1980's experience?