OTTAWAFirst, let me preface this rant with the admission that I am an Apple fan. I can't function without my Macbook, I think the iPhone is the coolest mobile phone ever invented. I even think the Newton was way ahead of its time.
That being said, count me among the many that let out a collective "That's it?" when Steve Jobs, the man who brought Apple back to prominence with a focus on aesthetics and simplified designs, introduced the iPad to a packed house of Apple sycophants in San Francisco on Wednesday (Jan. 27).
This was obviously the worst kept secret of the past year, with numerous insiders and analysts predicting a tablet-based PC. However, the collective indifference shown by many, including myself, stems from how "un-revolutionary" the iPad really is.
Where Apple has succeeded is in taking an existing product, designing it to appeal to those who appreciate the trendy and add new features that competitors don't offer. Apple is always at its best when it takes an existing idea and applies this model.
Take the original iPod, for example. Before its release, there were numerous MP3 players on the market, but the iPod resonated because of its slick design, a simple, easy-to-use interface and a "click wheel" that made selecting songs easy. With the iPad, all I'm really seeing is, as one analyst put it, "the iPod Touch on steroids".
Perhaps I just don't get it, but I don't see what makes the iPad so cool that I should add it to my iCollection. Is it a bigger version of the iPod Touch? Is it supposed to replace my Kindle, my iPod Touch, my PC? Why do I need to buy the iPad other than it's made by Apple and it's really thin and pretty?
Priced at from $499 for the base model all the way upwards of $1,000, what exactly is it about this tablet that will convince me to convince my bosses that I should spend a working day lining up in front of a Apple store.
Where Apple fails is when it tries to enter an unproven market that consumers haven't yet fully embraced, if at all.
And there, my friends, is the rub. At the end of the day, was anyone really clamoring for a sleek tablet PC? The tablet PC will never take off; it serves no purpose other than being another toy that technophiles use to show off to their friends. A tablet doesn't offer the full functionality of a PC or a laptop. Though they are portable in the sense that they have no wires, they don't fit in your pocket, so I don't envision seeing strangers on the bus listening to MP3s with headphones or holding them the thing up to their heads to answer phone calls.
Have you ever tried to watch a movie on one of these things? To watch a movie in bed or on the plane, you have to hold the tablet at the same viewing angle as a newspaper. Easier to get a flat-screen TV in your bedroom.
I know ONE person who owns a tablet. He isn't that enamored with it. Still, he's tried twice to sell it to me on the concept.
Apple apparently created the iPad solely to become the market leader for a product still in search of a market. Apple seems to be leveraging its all-too-familiar logo to persuade consumers to buy its iPad, thereby gaining control of the e-reader market.
Sadly, this is a gross overestimation by Apple's part. I'm already beginning to dust off a spot in the Apple Hall of Shame for the iPad in between the Apple Pippin and the Macintosh Lisa II. That spot had been reserved for Apple TV, but it seems the company still doesn't want to give up on that one.
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