I’ve been monitoring the Engadget feed like everyone else, and I can’t give a full verdict until I play with it, but at a glance, I’m not excited by Apple’s new iPad.
Why? First, because of what it is:
- A big iPhone. Truly, that’s how it is modeled, from the OS outward. Which means it has a similar form factor, the same beautiful glossy screen, and the same interfaces… which makes it just as scary to drop and very hard to put in one’s pocket. True, the niche is different; Apple is targeting the “I don’t want to lug my laptop” crowd with the iPad’s 9.7″ screen, half-inch depth and 1.5-lb. weight, all good things. But it’s not a true laptop replacement, as I’ll detail later.
- A 3G device–on AT&T’s network. The last thing AT&T needs (and that anyone is going to want) is more devices crowding its 3G bandwidth with unlimited-use devices. If this product is a hit, T is in for a rough year.
More important, though, is what it isn’t. Apple, of course, is often ahead of the game with its focus. The first iPod did nothing but play music; the iPhone didn’t do copy-paste or Exchange sync; and so on. And perhaps the iPad will be more successful because of what Apple deliberately left out of it.
For my $499 and up, though, I’d expect to have some of these things in the iPad, all of which are purposefully missing:
- Multitasking. Apple spent a long time demonstrating iWork, but without multitasking, users can’t pingpong between apps to reference data, copy-paste or preview. Productivity is decidedly secondary.
- Featherlight specs. Yes, one and a half pounds for this device is very nice. But a Kindle weighs 11 ounces, an iPhone less than 5. It’s a portable device that’s only somewhat portable. More like a coffee-table device (as expected) than one to tuck under the arm.
- A camera. What self-respecting Internet-centric gadget ships without a camera in 2010? Between chat, photo and video, cameras have become an expectation, not a perk. And the last thing an iPod user will want is wired peripherals. (Also, as reminded by @chrisfahey: no handwriting or voice recognition.)
- Enticing pricing. Sure, the $499 starting point is alluring, but at $829 for an all-in model, it’s not as cheap as it looks.
I’m no gadget prognosticator, and as an Apple shareholder, I hope I’m wrong. But this looks like it’s going to be a bit of a niche product, at least at first. It may turn out to be an incredible gaming and reading platform, in which case I will gladly make my retractions and add one to my own gadget stable. But from here, thus far? Color me iUnderwhelmed.
Of course, I could always be wrong.