My two cents on apple’s tablet

[de]

Eine Zusammenfassung meiner Gedanken zu Apples iPad

[en]

I spent most of this sunday thinking about mobile computing, where it is right now and what may happen.

Around 2002 I first became interested in the whole mobile computing idea. My favourite mind game for that topic is a “city walk”, an application in tourism. You visit another place and want to learn about how it came to where/how it is today. So, for my hometown, you could think of a tour with lots of pictures from Deutsche Fotothek (would be very interesting to see this and the present place), maybe an audio guide as well. Current mobile technology back in 2002 was the Sharp Zaurus, the iPaq and similar pda’s.

So, what if you could have something that is able to display photos (or even videos), that knows where it is, where it points and has access to storage media (internal or via some wireless network)? That was what I thought about eight years ago. That was two years after the EUR 50bn 3G auction in Germany (EUR 600 per resident!) and two years before an actual 3g phone hit the local market.

Fast forward 8 years. We have (or are promised) a device that has a usable (multi)touch screen, decent performance, wireless+3g networking, (a)gps, a compass, accelerometers, access to peripherals (via bluetooth) and some reasonable storage. The platform even has a working developer ecosystem, very good user interface standards, and a software distribution channel.

And that thing even has a large enough screen to make it possible to implement that idea, without having to design any custom hardware at all. Yes, it is pricey. Yes, I think the price will come down at some point. No, it won’t be soon, assuming the competition remains that bad.

Competition: That would be Microsoft and the various hardware vendors out there. They do not have anything comparable to the apple tablet. Even if there was some comparable hardware, the lack of a decent software platform to base it on would be a showstopper. Windows on a tablet for grandpa? Linux on a tablet for grandpa?

Sidenote: I think this grandpa idea should not be underestimated. Something larger than a flimsy iphone that comes with “built in internet” and is actually usable by that generation? Just check the prices for picture frames with wireless access and no touch. See?

Then we have the small/internet tablet market, like the the Nokia N900. Look at this screenshot. Need I say more? I do not want to bash open source here. Ever tried getting (or even purchasing) some software for your N-Series phone? Oh wait, this is turning into a phone rant now.

So yeah. The iPad will kick ass. Will I buy one? Probably not this year. But I guess I will replace my old N73 with something that seems to have a future in the market, broad developer support and great usability.

I wrote this with reasonable distance from the reality distortion field. I did not watch any keynotes and tried to avoid most of the media coverage out there. Oh, and if you look into the archives, you’ll find my november 2007 rant about the iphone (in German).

3 Kommentare zu “My two cents on apple’s tablet”

  1. Martin Grandrath

    I think the main problem with the “iPad for grandpa” idea is that the iPad doesn’t seem to be designed to be your one and only computer-like device. You need to have a PC/Mac for too many tasks like print a document, backup or share your data via an external storage device or sync your calendar with your (i)phone. I read in several reviews that the iPad is really for people that actually don’t want (or need) a “real” computer, but it seems to me that it is quite useless without one.

    I am somewhat suprised that the iPad doesn’t support text input via handwriting recognition. This would have increased the number of use cases by magnitude and I would probably consider getting one. But from what I’ve seen I can’t find the additional value in this gigantic iPod. Steve Jobs claimed that the iPad fills the gap between laptops and smartphones, but I would argue that it is way too close to the smartphone and too far away from the laptop/netbook.

  2. Dr. Azrael Tod

    There is still one thing the iPad really sucks at (and i am not talking about switching batteries or using flash… first is something noone really does and the second something noone really wants. I don’t even talk about the price.). I talk about the INPUT OF DATA. Yeah.. the great multi-touch-display is something i don’t see any Grandmother put up with. How to enter Text? press buttons! And these buttons are not like Keyboard-buttons really touchable, they don’t give any direct response that you hit the right one. Even worse: they are smaller then standard-keyboard-buttons. Noone will really type long texts on this device. The selection was good on the iPhone, but what was it opposed to there? Phones typically have things like T9 or ridiculously small, non-standard-layouted Keyboards. On the iPad the touchscreen has to keep up with writing Text by some kind of pen (hey, on this big sourface this would be the BEST Way to enter something for my grandmother… at least if it really would work and everything would be recognized.) or the Keyboards of Netbooks. I know, noone really likes small Keyboards, but they let me type at normal speed and without looking anymore. Of course my Grandmother would not have this advantage, but i pretty much think she would like a interface that she allready knows. Even my Grandmother worked some time ago with a computer.. just for typing in some Forms, just one or two years, they had one PC for 5 Persons and it’s probably 10 years ago. But still she allready knows Keyboards, she knows what happens if she pushes the Button for “A” and she would pretty easy understand how to type in some Text in Word. Now tell her how to zoom in, by 2 fingers and making some gesture!

  3. Marddl

    So from your perspective chances for the iPad to be successful are even higher in comparison to the iPhone?

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