Friday, January 29, 2010

Apple's new iPad: A logical evolution or a marketing dud



Apple finally unveiled its new tablet, the iPad, after months of feverish speculation and hype online, and as usual, without any official indication by Apple that the product even existed.
In the same typical style and exuberance, Mr Jobbs' unveiled the "next big thing" in consumer lifestyle computing but the initial response from Press and the tech community hasn't been as welcoming.

Unlike a lot of their earlier successes, Apple couldn't wow or amaze the audience. The iPad was exactly as everyone predicted with no surprises, never before seen features or a radical change in end-user consumer computing. For years, I have personally bashed the Mac for all it's glitter and no purpose, but the iPhone changed my perception. Undoubtedly, It is the most practical and purposeful phone till date. It has replaced my laptop for almost everything, keeps me organized, syncs my calendars and gives the best browsing experience through Safari, which is still the best out there. For more than 3 years, competitors have tried but failed miserably trying to emulate the user experience and the rich application store that the iPhone offers. And the new iPad is no different.

The iPad is definitely a logical progression from the iPhone. It is simply a bigger looking iPhone with which Apple plans to capture the e-book reader segment (with the likes of Kindle and Sony readers), the gamers, the designers (the wacom space) and the fast paced business executives who want to show off the latest sales figures and marketing presentations to clients on the move.

For those who currently use the iPhone to read books, watch movies, surf the net or to simply blog, will appreciate the generous 9.7" multi-touch screen and a quoted 10 hour battery life. The best part is, that it can run almost all the existing 140,000 App Store apps, making it easier for developers to port their applications to a new device painlessly. Given the feature set, the first iteration of the device looks highly promising. There are already talks of major newspaper and magazine publishers lining to get their content published over iTunes. Will this be the end of the print era? I hope it is. Trees all over the world rejoice, your savior is here :)

But obviously, I have the same complaints as the rest of the community. Firstly, who in marketing thought of naming the device "iPad". iSlate or iTab would have sounded fab. It could be that Apple was a bit late in acquiring the copyrights to these names but still, "iPad" is a strict no.

Though the native Apple built-in Apps support it, I still miss multi-tasking on my iPhone, and Apple had no reason of overlooking it in the iPad. It's definitely not an architectural challenge but could be a huge battery drain on these devices but the choice should be left to the end-user. I still believe the new iPhone 4.0 and later versions of the iPad OS would some day support multi-tasking.

This one is a no-brainer. How hard is it to include a file manager and a USB support to a full blown tablet. If the device has a fully functional OS and if the target consumer is a tech-savvy net junkie, who loves his photos and movies, then why skip a built-in USB port to import and export content from 3rd party devices. Apple's decision to have a closed ecosystem of their devices accessible only via iTunes doesn't really make sense. This will only encourage jailbreaks and hacks in the future. Even the cheapest netbook has a couple of USB ports and a linux/windows filesystem manager.

To end this long discussion, the iPad isn't revolutionary, it won't blow your minds off, it may not force you to queue up for long hours. But it is the most logical follow-up to the iPhone. Apple may have guaged the response after the keynote and sure enough there may be some last minute changes before it's official launch. For now, I guess I will have to wait for another year to replace my aging laptop, hoping Apple listens and gets their act together for the next generation iPad2.
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