|Will the iPad lead finally lead to widespread Tablet Computing?|
|Thursday, 04 March 2010 19:59|
It’s been a month or so now since Steve Jobs, walked the stage at the Yerba Buena Arts Center to announce the iPad. Feminine hygiene jokes aside and at the risk of being labeled an Apple Fanboy, it’s my belief that the iPad will prove to be another Apple-led turning point for digital media. There are many who vehemently disagree with this view, so I thought I’d outline the reasons why I think that this is in fact the case.
It’s more that just and iPod Touch with a big screen
I can remember when Palm Pilot first came out. It was simple, it was small, it worked. It did what it was designed to do. A large part of the Pilot’s success was due to the way it was designed. Apparently Palm’s Founder, Trip Hawkins, had a block of wood that as a low-fi prototype that he carried around with him for a month. Only when he was comfortable of the feel of the prototype in his pocket did he proceed with an operational version.
Simply put: size does matter
I think the same is true for the iPad. I used a windows tablet PC in a previous life for a couple of years that was a laptop with a swiveling display. I have to say it never really worked for me. The display wobbled and the unit was just too thick. As a result I rarely bothered to use it in touch mode. While I’ve not yet physically seen or held an iPad I can see that it will fit very nicely inside a folder that is not dissimilar to that used by some people to protect notepads. This is crucial, since it means that a fully protected iPad can be carried like a book or folder and need not be carried in a bag or backpack with a shoulder strap.
I think this will make it very attractive to executives, which is perhaps one of the reasons Apple has included iPad customised versions of its iWorks software on the device and is currently upping its marketing push into the Enterprise market. This is not a far-fetched as it first appears. The iPhone is just now establishing a beachhead in Enterprises through shear force of popularity; following up with the iPad is a logical move to leverage that popularity.
It’s not just a device, it’s part of an Ecosystem
The decision to use the same OS as the iPod Touch is a crucial one. Devices are only as useful as the applications they run. Making the iPad compatible with the iPod touch as well as the iPhone, and hence able to use their applications means that the device is instantly usable. There’s been plenty of others who have noted this point as well as Apple’s attempt to extend their control via the iBook store, and the deals Apple is cutting with publishers of newspapers and magazines so there’s no need to expound this point further here.
Flash’s Absence is a Furphy (Red Herring)
One area that has caused some hand-wringing on the part of developers is the absence of flash. I personally think this is a Furphy (Red Herring). The safari browser that ships with the iPad is based on webkit and is perfectly capable of displaying HTML 5 as well as Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). The combination of these two features provides an alternative to flash when a connection to the Internet is present and further circumvents Apples somewhat restrictive and sluggish Appstore approval process.
Fast followers start your engines
Perhaps the biggest contribution to widespread computing that the iPad will make is to spur on others who will no doubt attempt to copy the salient features of the iPad; it’s form factor and supporting ecosystem. Google’s Android offering is the obvious competitor and its no surprise that Apple is currently suing the primary hardware vendor shipping Android enabled kit in HTC at the time of writing. Which one becomes dominant will depend on a number of factors such as ease of use, cost, privacy concerns, reliability, connectivity, and battery life.
So back to the original thesis: that the iPad will lead to widespread tablet computing. It’s my belief that it will, and that we’ll see a whole new market for applications and services emerge because of it.
|Last Updated on Monday, 08 March 2010 19:40|