Why the iPad IS important

The iPad is still not much more than pages on Apple's web site, but already some folks are telling us that it's unimportant, a bust, a no-show, insufficient, ill-conceived and all that. That some of those nay-sayers cast similar barbs at the iPhone could be amusing, but I wouldn't argue against most of the complaints: they are absolutely correct that Apple's new device has warts.

And they are absolutely wrong that it will be a failure.

The iPad is a game changer. The people carping about its defects are missing the bigger picture - devices like this will ultimately change the way we use our computers.

Consider the form factor for a moment. No, the iPad doesn't roll up to fit in your pocket (though some future device like this might). But at 9.6 inches diagonal and with 720p resolution, it is big enough and sharp enough for pictures, TV and movies and, of course, books. Yeah, yeah, E-ink is "better" for books, but that misses the big picture - the iPad has books AND everything else.

It also has apps. The existing 140,000 iPhone apps and many more to come that will take advantage of the larger screen real estate. Among those apps are a few that implement some very important three letter acronyms: RDP, VNC and SSH.

Those three will make the iPad the perfect choice for technology workers. Set your iPad in its keyboard dock and connect to the company server. But what most everyone is missing is that you'll probably end up using this the same way at home. You may very well have a Mac or a Windows machine packed with ram and disk storage and you may be accustomed now to sitting down at its keyboard. One day you'll realize that you can use the iPad as a client. Maybe at first you only use it that way now and then - when you are sitting on the couch or enjoying your patio or porch. But as you realize how convenient that is, you might start doing it more and more.

By that time, the iPad will have probably insinuated itself into your life in other ways. You'll probably be using it to control your TV and associated devices - remote controls are horridly primitive, aren't they? You'll have started using Google Voice and Gizmo and you may be wondering if you still need a cell phone at all. The iPad has become your constant companion - you put it down on your bedside table before you nod off to sleep and it wakes you up in the morning. You may have even fumbled for it in the wee hours of the morning to record some Very Important Thought that raised you from your dreams.

Of course you use if for your calendar, your music, your movies, your books, probably your newspaper. It's your photo album, your email client, your gaming console, your web browser, your music, your journal, your spreadsheets, your private movie theatre, your work.. your life.

It's not perfect. There are things you want: maybe a camera, maybe other things. Those will come, but you have so much now that those gripes seem almost unimportant.

Not perfect, but it IS magical. It IS a game changer. Microsoft already hates it and will be spreading all the negative FUD it can. Cell phone makers might join in as people start switching to Google and Gizmo. There will people who insist they don't need it, don't want it. They'll be lying to themselves.

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© Anthony Lawrence

Fri Jan 29 13:57:00 2010: 7973   TonyLawrence


I suggest that those who still don't believe it go watch all of the introductory event:

Fri Jan 29 14:35:13 2010: 7974   BrettLegree


It definitely is a game changer. If people can't see that, they are either jaded that they didn't get an invite to the event (!) or they are just very narrow minded and unimaginative.

When I saw it, I thought, "yeah, perfect for me - it does everything they say it does, movies music books email light surfing, plus I can VNC into my Linux box".

Later I thought, with a custom mount, and a 12 V and audio adapter, this thing is the perfect car computer. It does GPS (according to the Apple web site), lots of music with a groovy touch screen interface, and so on.

Plus, when I get to my destination, I just unplug it and take it with me.

I swear that the people who are down on it are being paid to sling mud.

Or very shortsighted.

Fri Jan 29 15:03:07 2010: 7975   MarkBelanger


The large screen size and Apple's panache and ability to generate buzz make it a self-fulfilling game changer even though others have made similar products before - notably the ArchOS 5 Internet tablet
(link) With bluetooth, wifi, usb 2, and sd slots, the ArchOS internet tablet has much of the same potential as the iPad and maybe more considering the bluetooth. However it's small screen size makes it just a bit better than an iTouch and nowhere near as potentially useful as the iPad.

Given that it's been done before, the iPad loses points for originality, but like I said, Apple's je ne sais quoi will certainly propel the table PC into mainstream. I'm excited about the potential for android based devices competing with the iPad and driving better and cheaper incarnations.

Fri Jan 29 15:10:14 2010: 7976   jtimberman


Geeks are so jaded to new technology and think that the world of technology revolves around them.

When I described the iPad to my wife, she wanted one immediately. Four of my coworkers had the exact same reaction from their also-non-technical wives. They, and other non-geeks really don't care about things like "no multitasking" or "it doesn't run a REAL Mac OS." They want to go to Email, Calendars, Facebook and Etsy. My wife's biggest complaint about the iPhone is its too small, and the iPad totally cures that issue.

I imagine I'll be buying at least one, if not two (like I'll get a chance to use hers!). It's an intriguing device, and I think Tony is right - it changes the game.

Fri Jan 29 15:34:27 2010: 7977   MikeHostetler


You guys already know that I agree with you both. This is a game changer. It's an touch screen for everyone -- for those that want a portable entertainment unit to a power user that needs access to a machine . No one really has that in a usable way -- I mean, you an ssh from your iPhone, but how usable is that?

I think the most killer feature is the price. I was expecting a base price for $999, but $499? Really? That's the cost of a decent laptop and I think that the iPad is better!!

But it couldn't live up to the hype that the press had been rolling in it. I think people were expecting this to be their next boyfriend/girlfriend/friend with benefits. "What I can read book on it? It should read it to me while rubbing my back!"

I am interested in seeing how the iBooks app is. The Kindle is a wonderful ebook machine but it's only for books. The iPad (as we have said over and over again) much more than that.

Fri Jan 29 16:08:39 2010: 7978   MikeHostetler


(link) This just came up on my Twitter feed. Excellent thoughts.

Fri Jan 29 16:49:00 2010: 7979   TonyLawrence


I missed the GPS spec on first read, but it it is there on the 3G models.

Fri Jan 29 17:08:56 2010: 7980   TonyLawrence


ArchOS 5 Internet tablet

But that doesn't have 140,000 apps, doesn't have iTunes, iPhoto, iWorks, deals with book publishers, a no contract deal with AT&T ... I really do not think anyone can even begin to compete.

When I described the iPad to my wife, she wanted one immediately

My wife went to Apple and watched the video. Yeah, she wants one too. She also chastised me for not putting every dime we had into Apple stock :-)

I swear that the people who are down on it are being paid to sling mud.

Some, surely. But some honestly just don't get it or get side tracked by things like multitasking.

Fri Jan 29 17:19:23 2010: 7981   BrettLegree



You're right on both counts - the price is amazing, and as per your tweet this morning, it couldn't possibly have lived up to the hype. Perhaps that's okay though, since a lot of the folks who will buy these may not have been following the hype.

My mom wants one :) and so does my wife hee hee so that's how I'll get her into the Apple fold.

Neither of them followed the hype, so for them, it works.


That's been the thing that has bugged me the most about a lot of the Twitter and blog traffic, all the "self-proclaimed elite geeks" saying this or that about it.

News flash guys and gals, everything Apple (or anyone else for that matter) makes is not necessarily meant for you. The 30-something (20-something?) crowd does *not* hold the bulk of the spending dollars today.

Make something for the generation that does, on the other hand... instant gold.


Good points - they don't get it.

And multitasking? Meh.

To do two things at once is to do neither.

I have played around with an iPhone, it didn't bug me one bit.

In any case, a lot of what I would do on an iPad can all be done in a tabbed browser anyway.

Fri Jan 29 17:34:25 2010: 7982   TonyLawrence


And if you really need multitasking, you VNC, ssh or remote desktop to a real computer.

Fri Jan 29 17:37:00 2010: 7983   BrettLegree


Exactly :)

(I think about 5 minutes after I saw the specs, I searched and found several good VNC clients for the thing. Well, for the iPhone anyway, but of course they will work.)

Fri Jan 29 18:42:20 2010: 7984   TonyLawrence


Excellent post at


The iPad as a particular device is not necessarily the future of computing. But as an ideology, I think it just might be. In hindsight, I think arguments over �why would I buy this if I already have a phone and a laptop?� are going to seem as silly as �why would I buy an iPod if it has less space than a Nomad?�


Fri Jan 29 19:04:35 2010: 7985   MarkBelanger


I suggest that those who still don't believe it go watch all of the introductory event: (link)

It annoys me to no end that Apple has gotten so much from the Open Source community and can't be bothered to make QuickTime or ITunes for Linux. Which is one reason that I'm leaning toward the Android platform.

Fri Jan 29 19:05:50 2010: 7986   TonyLawrence


has much of the same potential as the iPad and maybe more considering the bluetooth

The iPad has Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

Fri Jan 29 19:08:30 2010: 7987   TonyLawrence


It annoys me to no end that Apple has gotten so much from the Open Source

I know. I'm wracked by open source guilt:

But I'm still using Macs and I'm going to find some way to squeeze an iPad into our budget.

Fri Jan 29 19:35:54 2010: 7988   BrettLegree


I used to have that "it's not open source" guilt.

Then I decided I needed to get on with my life and get stuff done. I don't have time to think to myself "does this tool have the 'proper' ideology" when it is the best tool for the job I need to do.

Plus, I have four kids, so I don't have much time to build my own stuff and hack at things to make them work :) if I can buy something that works, I buy it.

Fri Jan 29 20:19:32 2010: 7989   Ferk


IMHO, the game was changed looooooooong ago..
If iPad sells a lot will be because of the advertising and promotion, just because it's from Apple. Not because of being a "perfect choice".

There have been tablet PCs since a long time, and they are tipically much more functional than the iPad. The only new thing that the iPad brings is the lack of input/ouput standard ports. I would like much more one of those sleek laptops that can turn their screen 360� and be used as a tablet, while keeping all the functionality of a normal computer.

Fri Jan 29 21:27:29 2010: 7990   TonyLawrence


There have been tablet PCs since a long time, and they are typically much more functional than the iPad.

Nope. You are missing the big picture.

Fri Jan 29 22:10:09 2010: 7991   TonyLawrence


I'm also not going to agree with the "more functional" idea. I don't think anything has even approached this sort of interface and it's definite that the number of apps far exceeds anything other than PC's.

No, this isn't a tired rehash like something Microsoft would have done. This is exciting and new.

Sat Jan 30 11:47:06 2010: 7992   TonyLawrence


The Free Software Foundation is also on an anti-iPad rant.

Their gripe is more about politics than functionality. I tend to side with what this post opines:

Sat Jan 30 12:46:11 2010: 7993   BrettLegree


The Defective By Design thing always seemed a bit childish to me, to be honest. It sounds like, "we can't bring the people the product they want because of our pseudo-political leanings, so let's piss on someone else's parade instead."

I know there are some smart people in the FSF, probably some good businesspeople too.

So stop complaining and make a freePad already. Make a freebook Pro, and a freebook. Take the best of BSD or Linux and make freeS X already.

Of course, I don't think they should really clone Apple. But there is a lot of really great FLOSS out there - I use it, you use it, lots of people use it.

Make it a bit better, a bit easier to use, market it properly, turn it into something people really want.

And heck, feel free to *charge* them for it. A lot of people still have a hard time believing something is good quality if you're giving it away.

Sat Jan 30 13:30:02 2010: 7994   MarkBelanger


This gamers-eye-view takes issue - big issue - with the lack of multi-tasking -

I don't think the lack of multi-tasking will prevent Apple from selling zillions of iPads or prevent the iPad from having a major impact on non-desktop computing. That said, I think the lack will be a big negative in the long term. 6 months to a year from now, there'll be a half-dozen viable Android based alternatives that can mulittask - easily. Even today the number of apps for Android, while still far less than iPhone/Touch is plenty for the average Linus.

So short term, lack of muli-tasking is no big deal. Long term it is quite a limitation for a device that wants to replace a laptop in certain situations.

About the Open Source discussion. I love the principals but that's not my issue with Apple. My issue is that key Apple technologies - specifically QuickTime and iTunes are not available. I think this is insanely shortsighted and sort of cheesy given how much Apple has taken from OpenSource. I don't expect open source versions of any Apple technologies. IMO, making Linux a viable alternative helps Apple. I think a person is likely to go to Linux not from Apple but from Windows. That Linux user has potential to eventually move to Apple.

Sat Jan 30 13:59:57 2010: 7995   BrettLegree



Your point about multitasking - 6 months is a long time. Perhaps Apple will have a multitasking iPhone/iPad OS by then. I can see it, if people are asking for it.

If I were a betting man, I'd say that it already exists, and we'll see it at the next Apple event, for anything that runs a variant of the iPhone OS.

I know what people are saying about Apple and their apps and giving back to open source.

Truthfully, even if I could run iTunes and Quicktime and whatever else on a Linux machine natively, I would not. I don't use them on my Mac because there are other tools that do the job better for me.

Obviously, this isn't the case for everyone, so... but then again, if you're running a Linux machine (or BSD or whatever) and you (or the person who set it up for you) couldn't find suitable alternatives for iTunes and Quicktime, then I'd probably raise an eyebrow and wonder what you're doing...

Sat Jan 30 14:51:23 2010: 7996   TonyLawrence


On the other hand, limiting multitasking is a security feature too..

Sat Jan 30 14:56:41 2010: 7997   BrettLegree


That's an excellent point Tony, I never thought of that.

Sat Jan 30 15:07:57 2010: 7998   MarkBelanger


Saying that the lack of multi-tasking is a security feature is like saying a car without an engine is a low-maintenance feature. I'd be OK with "we skipped multi-tasking for better time to market" or "we need more time for a secure implementation" but selling it as a security feature is weak at best.

Sat Jan 30 15:10:31 2010: 7999   TonyLawrence


I don't know that they are "selling" this as a feature. I'm just noting that security is easier without it.

Sat Jan 30 15:27:59 2010: 8000   BrettLegree


I'd tend to say it isn't so much a car without an engine, but maybe a car with a normal engine as opposed to a hybrid powerplant, or an amphibious car, or something like that.

I'd say most people (i.e. not the people who read this site, or use Twitter, or know what a blog is) tend to single task anyway.

I work at a nuclear company. I've watched the way most people work there - by and large, these are people who write documentation.

One app at a time. Don't even know what Alt-Tab does.

So for them, is lack of multitasking a problem on iPad?


Remember - maybe Apple didn't design this thing for you and I as the primary target market. Maybe it's for your grandmother.

Sat Jan 30 16:35:01 2010: 8003   TonyLawrence


And again, if I need to, I ssh or vnc to my real computer.

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