Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The iPad: My thoughts

The iPad is here... and well, it is here to stay!

After having played with the iPad for a short time (like a kid at a candy shop), I stepped out impressed. I have my own reservations, but hey, this thing rocks.

So instead of harping over the same stuff which a lot of reviews would, I wanted to stress on three unique things that struck out the most regarding the iPad

1. Potentially, The Third Segment
For many year, there has been a big debate - is there a middle segment of devices, one that exist between the phone and the computer? And if so, what does that segment best do? At first, it looks like the MID (Mobile Internet Device). For the last couple of years, it seemed as if netbooks defined that segment. But well, there was always this lingering doubt - why do people buy netbooks? what does it do better than a pc? does it redefine the experience? My view is that besides the smaller form factor, the only reason why netbooks are good is the 'price point'!
Finally with the Apply iPad, it looks like this void might be filled. The Apple iPad defines the middle segment as the productivity segment - things that you do often, like browsing web, listening to music, watching movies and reading books and magazines. The key here is that the iPad redefines the experience, making it more personal and more accessible.

2. Building the device ground-up
One thing that instantly astonished me is the raw speed - the device is blazingly fast. Things just happen naturally, there's no lag. What's even more surprising is the horsepower (the engine) that drives it. All it has is an underwhelming 1Ghz Apple A4 chip with a mere 256 MB ram. So what's the secret sauce - the ground up approach to building the device. Instead of just taking the existng hardware and software and slamming them together to make the iPad, Apple rethought everything. Every hardware is fine-tuned and devised as to best do the core activities on the iPad. That's amazing.
All this makes me very suspect of the new HP Slate due to be released shortly. The specs of the HP Slate are far better (1.6 GHz Atom processor and a 512MB/1GB ram). But then it has the standard netbook processor, not one fine-tuned for a tablet experience. What's more, it runs the clunky Windows 7 Home Series. Well, I can safely bet that despite the faster processor, the HP Slate will be very sluggish compared to the iPad

3. The App World Ecosystem
When Apple first release the iPhone, it had no third party apps. The reason was that the core functions of the device were already built in - phone, browser, ipod, photos. Everything else is secondary. But with the iPad, the core functionality is not clearly defined. In fact, that's the strength of the device. You define the core functionality. For me, the core functionality would be social networking and productivity tools (like word). For someone else, it could be reading books and watching movies. What this means is that the App World defines the core utility of the device. And Apple realized it right from the beginning. That's why, in addition to making the iPad being able to upscale and run the thousands of existing iPhone apps, Apple ensured that there's more than 3000+ iPad only apps available at launch. These apps, besides taking advantage of the iPad large display space, also illustrate how the iPad apps are so different and better than those for the iPhone.

Of course, the device has its own drawbacks - no camera for teleconferencing, no usb ports, no flash connection and most importantly no multitasking. Well, here's my strong bet: from the beginning, iPad has been designed to support multitasking. The only reason it has been waiting so long is for the official release of the iPhone 4 Software Platform (since both iPad and iPhone run on the same product platform).

In all, I no longer see the device as a giant iPod touch. There's more to it than what meets the eye. Well done Apple!

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