Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Party of iPad No Can't Filibuster

Best Web Browsing or a big blocky question mark? Steve Jobs demonsrates how a lack of Flash support means the video element on the NY Times front page just can't play on iPad.

Even before Steve Jobs had switched off the Reality Distortion Field Generator, objections to the iPad starting pouring out (even from Hitler): no multi-tasking, no camera, doesn't replace my laptop, name sounds uncomfortably tamponic, AT&T. At the same time other folks were reaching for their handkerchiefs to wipe the drool off their chins and developers, sniffing out another app store gold rush were diving into the SDK (software development kit).

It turns out that reactions to the Apple iPad are as sharply divided as the U.S. Senate, but with this important difference: people saying no to iPad don't have the filibuster. The naysayers can't block the yaysayers from buying it.

The first truth about the iPad is that nobody outside of Apple yet knows the truth about the iPad. Of course it doesn't do everything a notebook does. It wasn't intended to. The critical question was posed by Steve Jobs early in the keynote: does iPad do a useful set of things appreciably better than a notebook? The list Steve proposed was this: browsing, email, photos, video, music, and games. I venture it's safe to say that the gaming experience on iPad will smoke gaming on a notebook. As for the others, the jury is out.

What's the experience really like? Will people really prefer it enough to shell out for three devices (phone, iPad, and notebook)? I don't see any reliable way to answer those questions without actually living with it for a couple of weeks. I'm curious about hands-on reports from folks at the launch event, but I don't put much stock in their brief encounters.

The second truth about the iPad is that the product Apple introduced yesterday is just a teaser for the product that will ship in March and April. And that, in turn, will be just a teaser of the product that will be available a year from now. What's missing? The apps and the content deals. And then the next rev of the OS.

Just as today's iPhone is very much defined by the apps available for it, so will the iPad be defined by apps that take full advantage of its larger size and faster processor.

The weeks preceding the launch were filled with rumors about negotiations between Apple and TV networks and print media. If there's truth to those rumors, it's likely that Apple had hoped to tell us more about the glories of subscriptions to content. The negotiations, if they are happening, clearly dragged on beyond intro date. But I think it's safe to expect a number of content-specific apps, not all of them free.

MIckeleh's Take: The party of iPad no has lots of good arguments. But until shipping, they're arguing against a phantom. They can stay on the sidelines jeering as loudly as they want. The iPad will still attract buyers. And the user-experience may well prove revolutionary.