iPad isn’t a thrill yet, but will be.

Like so many other people I know, I spent some time last night watching the live blogging from the Apple iPad launch event. Also, like so many other people I know, I was somewhat disappointed with what I saw.

The device itself, of course, is magnificent. It looks beautiful, it obviously feels beautiful, and the price, well it is a amazing. At that price – $500 USD – I’d say everyone who makes netbooks is in trouble. That, in fact, is the place Apple are pitching the device anyway. As a middle-man thing between your mobile and your laptop experience.

However, the fact of the matter is that Apple’s big product thrills only start to show up when they do their innovating in spaces aligned to the device they are trying to sell. I mean, iPad is magnificent from an engineering perspective of course it is, but that doesn’t make it thrilling.

We were thrilled with iPod because of iTunes and the seamless way it moves music from artist to the ears.

We were thrilled with iPhone because Apple made the shift from putting everything they could dream up onto amdevice to making it simple to put functions everyone else could dream up on the device.

I was hoping to be thrilled with iPad because Apple would make another play to move the stuff everyone else does  onto a screen in another unique way. They didn’t, and even iBooks is just a rehash of what Amazon is already doing.

Ultimately, the iPad is beautiful, but it doesn’t enable anything new.

I knew I’d be disappointed because the fact of the matter is Apple almost never get around to thrilling us with new in a first release.

iPod was released first in 2001, but Apple didn’t add the iTunes store to sell music until two years later.

And the first version of the iPhone had no AppStore at all. It was in late 2008 that Apple added that, almost two years after the first iPhone came out. Now “there’s an app for that” for everything.

So its reasonable to conclude that Apple (who lets face it are masterful manipulators of all of us), have left their powder dry on the iPad. There will be thrilling new ways to get stuff others do on screens. They’re coming, but we won’t have them for, probably, two years.

Everyone who is disappointed because the iPad lacks some gizmo – like a camera or multitasking – is looking for engineering thrills that change the game. But engineering so rarely does. Its always adjustment of business models around the engineering that does that.

And Apple aren’t stupid. They know how to play us. The probably engineered the whole hype thing just to disappoint us. They know their big, game changing play will turn all this discussion around overnight.

Its not like Apple are hiding anything here, either, since they practically told us what they’re going to do during the announcement: “We want to be at the crossroads between technology and the liberal arts”, says Jobs. In other words, wherever talent lives, and whenever it can be rendered on a 10” screen, Apple is going to be your distribution partner and manage your relationship with your customer.

It is a very grand play. And its one that Apple have had some experience in: they did it already for musicians and programmers and studios.

So, in 12 to 18 months or so, when they announce (probably as a sidelight to something else) their game-changer, I am very confident we will all be thrilled.

8 Responses to“iPad isn’t a thrill yet, but will be.”

  1. Marcus Gilbert
    January 28, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    How many people actually use the camera on their notebook? It's not a massive loss – and knowing Apple's normal release strategy, this will be added in a mid-term refresh.
    Also, what's the betting that multi-tasking is added real soon. I'm guessing they wanted to get the product out there with positive press on its performance, and then add features once the market has taken hold.

  2. Tim
    January 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm #

    I agree, I like the potential of it more than what was specifically announced yesterday. I still want one though, but will probably wait until the first refresh, as I've been caught out with first-gen Apple products before.

  3. January 29, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    [CARTOON] Apple iTampon !

  4. January 29, 2010 at 5:21 am #

    But what is wonderful about Apple is that even the 2g iPhone today still gets software updates. That's not something you got with phones before they changed the market. Am sure the iPad will be the same.

  5. John Peterson
    January 29, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Come on, it's a rubbish, underwhelming launch and you might as well join the rest of the objective world to do yourself some credit.
    I doubt you'd apply the same nonsense logic to other vendors
    [i]'I knew I’d be disappointed because the fact of the matter is Apple almost never get around to thrilling us with new in a first release.' [/i]
    So Microsoft deliberately designed all the falws in Vista so they could tease us with Windows 7?
    I've got a lot of time for Apple – they're usually a good force in the market (despite their greedy, DRM-rich approach)…but scraping the barrel for such fanboyish comments does you no credit.
    [i]'The (sic) probably engineered the whole hype thing just to disappoint us.'[/i]
    My respeect for James Gardner Blog [-1]

  6. January 29, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    Good morning John!
    Actually, I have to admit that i have recently become a (semi-closet) fanboy of Apple.
    And I wouldn't say for one minute that MS designed the flaws into Vista. You're right, I'd never give them that credit.
    And I agree the release of iPad was vastly underwhelming compared to expectations. If the hype was less, maybe we'd all have been more impressed.
    But I think what I was trying to say in this post (perhaps badly) is that historically (at least, the last two major product launches), Apple don't add the disruptive capabilities till *after* they have built a user base.
    Personally, I think they aren't stupid. The iPad as it stands doesn't do anything new at all. Yet Jobs says "its the most important thing he's ever done", and leaves the keynote with his liberal arts comment.
    From this, I predict they have a game-changer coming later. Because iBooks is boring, and I have all the other things on Apple devices I already own.
    Hope you have a good day.

  7. John Peterson
    January 29, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Good to hear James!
    As I say, and perhaps you accidentally walked into it, given you've made exactly the same comment in previous blogs (quite rightly) about Microsoft releasing the first iteration badly – eg Win 95 vs 98, Me vs XP, Vista vs 7 etc – but been far less 'effusive' about it.
    For me it's simply part of the innovation process – build a platform (first iteration) and then exploit it (second iteration).
    But I think if you give Apple credit, then you've gotta do the same for others like Microsoft – there's nothing special about Apple releasing an initial dud – and there's not been some Gaic commandment from the omniscient Jobs to release dud products initially.
    I'm viewing this as simply a signpost or a 'show of their hand' – they've shown where they're going, but not given the market any indication or convincing sign they're going to get there (or even get there first).
    Strategically this was a missed opportunity (though again not by design) and a poor presentation – but I still think there's plenty of time to play catch up.
    This was one of the many 'dud' launches from Apple (and the fan boys tend to blithely forget this) – it had the hollow 'yeah and…' feel – much like the Apple TV, Mac Cube etc etc And we should probably not forget the original iPod was a kiosk for surfing the web…
    It's a great example of innovation and the benefits and perils – suspect this was more of a rushed out stop-gap given the clamouring for this fabled device and the fact that the competition was already gearing up heavily to enter the market (see HP Slate, Dell, Microsoft Courier etc etc etc).
    Apple have dropped the ball, they had the market sewn up before it even announced the product – from an innovator's perspective this makes exciting times, will be very interesting to see how the competition respond…

  8. Marcus Gilbert
    January 29, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Dare I say it? Okay, I will… With it's 'instant on' capability, the iPad could be a very powerful tool for Cloud Computing. Especially with the 3G option.
    Also, the iPad reminds me of a similar, innovative device that was too ahead of its time: The Psion 7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psion_Series_7

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