All the hype leading up to Wednesday’s announcement of Apple’s new iPad has been complemented by all the post-launch posts and reviews. Many are disappointed that it’s not Apple’s implementation of a “netbook” PC while others for some strange reason think it should include a phone.
But it’s neither – it’s not a PC; it’s not a phone; it simply uses Apple’s technology, content and transaction resources developed for its PC and iPhone to launch a new category of electronic devices. In reality it’s an electronic version of a briefcase (or attaché case) which can contain everything we carry around with a roughly 8.5″ x 11″ (or A4) form factor. Consider the items we would carry around in a briefcase:
- newspapers and magazines
- a binder or notebook containing contact information, appointment calendar, notes, logs, etc.
- business and personal documents
- letters and other mail items/packages
- reference documents such as maps, timetables, schedules, dictionaries
- 8.5″ x 11″ (or A4) notepad (blank, lined or grid)
- writing instruments: pens, pencils
- photographs (often in frames)
- single purpose DVD, Video and audio media players
So when we look at the features of the iPad presented yesterday, it appears a more appropriately descriptive name of the device would have been iAttaché:
- New York Times news media application
- Safari browser to access news, reference content and other web-based information
- email support
- personal information manager (contacts, calendar, tasks)
- Adobe reader
- iWorks (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations)
- Google Maps (3G supported version includes a cellular assisted GPS)
- multi-touch screen incorporating a touch keyboard
- Photo Manager (and serves as a photo frame)
- Media Players (video including YouTube, iTunes – but no Flash player)
- support of third party iPod and iPhone applications of which many include reference information
And for my $0.02 worth, this is where Steve Jobs and the Apple team have found their market niche:
- It’s an application specific device – an interactive electronic briefcase
- It’s not, and was never intended to be, a PC; it’s definitely not a phone (it just takes advantage of many technologies and features initially developed for the iPhone and iPod Touch devices)
- Its 10″ display is a very familiar size for many of the applications mentioned above
- with the either of the two dock options it can sit on a table top as a picture or document frame or or for watching videos conveniently
- It’s developed around Apple’s technology expertise with displays, graphics, multi-touch screens; it’s built around their iPhone OS, iTunes, iPod and App Store resources. However, it continues Apple’s philosophy of providing devices that are real easy for users with little or no technical expertise to set up and use.
- It was never intended to be a smartphone or a PC – it’s an electronic attaché case
The Phone Issue: To Skype or Not To Skype?Many are disappointed by the fact it’s not a phone; however, that issue was best addressed by this photo and an accompanying comment found on an acquaintance’s social networking:
Look at this picture of Steve Jobs holding his iPad. How would he hold it up to his ear to be a phone handset?
The iPad form factor definitely is not appropriate as a phone handset. One does not put a traditional attaché case up to the ear; a briefcase is designed to be carried with the arms down.
However, with the iPad’s built-in mic and speakers and placing it into one of its docks, it is anticipated that it can become a speaker phone where one can make Skype voice calls over a WiFi access point, using Skype for iPhone – given the claim that all iPhone applications are supported. For more privacy the user could also put the FREETALK Everyman headset’s speaker plug into the iPad’s 3.5 mm headset jack. It’s also worth recalling Skype for iPhone’s ability to support Skype chat sessions. (Did anyone notice the absence of iChat support?)
(And we’ll have to see if Skype calls could also be made over the 3G data connection supported by iPad now that Apple has supposedly removed its restriction on making VoIP calls over a (3G/HSPA+) carrier network. But also there may be a caveat.)
The Camera Issue:
How would you hold this up to be either a photo or video camera? iPad comes nowhere near an appropriate form factor for any type of camera. I already have enough trouble holding my Canon Digital Elph steady to do an HD video; that’s why I have a tripod.
And cameras on mobile phone handsets and other handheld mobile devices are largely a compromise when it comes to more than low quality photos suitable for web use. iPad lets you do your photography on dedicated cameras, which produce high quality results, and then process and store them on your electronic attaché case which incorporates a high quality display.
Bottom Line : iPad is a misleading name for this device; it should have been called iAttaché. Why?
- It’s designed to create an entire new device category and the “pad” analogy only represents a portion of what it really is – an electronic briefcase or attaché case
- It actually positions the product much better with the target consumer market, especially as a prestige device deserving of a premium price. Definitely “iAttaché” has more cachet in the prosumer market.
- Whereas the iPhone is primarily an information delivery device, the iPad does add the ability to create documents but then a briefcase will often hold pen/pencil and paper for the same purpose.
- Third party applications along with the Safari browser will often serve the same reference function as items such as maps, schedules and timetables but incorporating much more intelligence and, obviously, a worldwide range of content
- How many times will the names iPad and iPod cause confusion, especially when dealing with Apple for both purchases and support?
- There would be no jokes about association with certain feminine products.
Update: iPhone games publisher Ethan Nicholas has a guest post at Tech Crunch: Why My Mom’s Next Computer Is Going To Be An iPad:
The iPad is a computer for people who don’t like computers. People who don’t like the idea of upgrading their 3D drivers, or adjusting their screen resolution, or installing new memory. Who don’t understand why their computer gets slower and slower the longer they own it, who have 25 icons in their system tray and have to wait ten minutes for their system to boot up every day.
And it’s not just my Mom who used to expend hours of my time with these issues.
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