Thursday, 28 January 2010

iPad – not yet for me

After all the hype the iPad is released – and it looks as if it’s just a larger version of an iPhone or iPod touch. Yes, it looks great with its sharp colour display, oleophobic screen and touch interface, but will it perform? (Many thanks to gizmodo for the picture – they also have a good overview of the iPad).

If one steps back from the hype (Steve - great launch by the way), and compares this to, say, a tablet PC running Windows 7, then the iPad comes up as lacking many key features that existing laptop, PC and Mac users would require.

The biggest failing I’ve seen is the iPad’s lack of any multi-tasking (already a major failing on the iPhone) – except, of course, for Apple’s own applications. So forget writing an e-mail whilst writing a document or having a Twitter.

Then of course there is Apple’s continuing refusal to support Flash – apparently to be continued with the iPad – this rules out many of the best web sites – which will appear on the iPad with large blank holes.

Will the iPad run any applications? – almost certainly not – Apple will retain its control over the apps it allows – all of which can only come through the Apple applications store – allowing Apple to control the types of application one can access, effectively censoring the apps that individual users have access to. Want to run Google Voice or a Browser other than Safari? – not allowed.

Cameras? – not yet – so no video conferencing.

So my view is that the iPad will be solely a consumer device – and one bought primarily by individuals who don’t make heavy use of computers at the moment – functionally, it really is like an iPhone with a larger screen.

What is more interesting is what the impact on the market will be. Microsoft, HP and others have pushed tablet PCs in the past without much success, and the touch-screen user interface of Windows 7 has not had much success to date. Will the launch of the iPad revitalise these initiatives and see the rise in keyboard-less, touch screen netbooks and tablets? – I certainly think so. Like many initiatives started by Apple, in the longer term, I think the iPad will result in significant changes to the way we view and interact with mobile computers and PCs.