One look at the device and a good working knowledge of Apple products tells us that the device will be ergonomically great and definitely the latest ‘must have’ device to show off to your friends but will the iPad represent another roaring success for the company that has only very recently boasted massively successful financial results in the last year.
Market Demand – Unification of functions that no-one thought to Unify?
The question for me with a new product is the market demand, what has created the need for a device like this and a quick analysis of recent technologies will show us. For a long time now we have been waiting for a device to do for books what the iPod did for music – make them more accessible, more portable and always available. Amazon responded to this with the Kindle, a perfectly functional device that does the job of delivering monochrome text and images well in all conditions, it is robust and useful but has one major flaw – its not sexy – show anyone the device and the general response is – “ooohh that’s nice, do they do a colour one” or “my iphone can do that”. Battery life and readability are great, but isn’t it a bit like buying a mobile phone without a camera? Yes it performs its primary function incredibly well, but surely in these times of convergence where a mobile phone is so much more, then we expect our consumer devices in general to do a lot more. With Kindle support and Barnes and Noble now coming to the iPad we can be sure it will be a decent functional device for reading – assuming the battery holds out long enough.
It seems obvious yet brilliant what Apple are trying to do here, all of us iPhone owners are very proud of how well it processes and views web pages making them readable on the smallish screen, but we all secretly know that its way to small to be effective. Likewise Windows Mobile users will claim how effective their office suite is at quick views of Excel or Word documents – but have you ever tried to do anything useful to these docs on such a small screen? Netbooks filled the gap for a while, portable, cheap, huge battery life and still very usable, but the iPad is a clear winner in what it is trying to achive, a portable consumer device with a touch screen interface, full colour and a size that makes all of the things that so frustrate us in terms of functionality on mobile phones actually usable.
So simple its genius, just wonder how long it will be before every PC manufacturer under the sun re-opens their Tablet divisions with department heads asking – “Yeah, I like it, but can you lose the chunky keyboard bit from under the screen?”