Friday, January 29, 2010

Failure to Think Different

I'm not even going to say very much in response to this blog post, except to point out that her sense of self-importance is way out of proportion. Apple doesn't have to convince her that the iPad is "better than a netbook" because it's not about her. This isn't a product primarily targeted at techies, tech reporters, developers, gurus, pundits, or the like. Much of the target audience doesn't even grok what a netbook is.

I'm sure somebody has told you all this before, but let me point it out again: it's not always about you. Products can be successful even if they aren't right for you.

Frankly, I think this thing could be a huge success just from techies buying them for their parents or other relatives who rely on them for tech support.

This thing doesn't cost all that much more than a portable DVD player, for crying out loud, and it's smaller. I'd buy one just to watch movies when I travel.

I'm a techie, but I don't need to be able to program on every electronic device I own. I don't hate my dishwasher because I can't get to the command line. I don't hate my DVD player because it runs a proprietary operating system. Sheesh.



57 comments:

Ken Pespisa said...

Funny you should mention that because I do hate my dishwasher and wish I could get to the command prompt to tinker with it.

I surprised how many people are having a hard time getting what this device is about, or rather, not about. It's a side-effect of the hype storm I suppose. We've been hearing (and fantasizing) about this device for months, and it's only been 'real' for 48 hours. And the reality isn't quite as wonderful as the fantasy. But wipe your presuppositions from your mind and look at the device for what it is. I guarantee if you had seen this device a year ago, or before the hype began, you'd be overwhelmed and amazed, and less crabby that it doesn't have Flash and a front-side camera.

Jeff LaMarche said...

It's not quite as amazing FOR US as we hoped it would be. Side effect of the hype freight train that Apple has created, I guess.

Elai said...

This is 5 times more expensive than your typical portable DVD player. And for the price of an iPad, I can buy a 40" 1080p LCD HD tv. 1/2 a grand is nothing to sneeze at.

DMThomas said...

Jeff, Thanks for sharing this CNET post from "Molly's Rants". The title of her "column" is definitely justified.

It is quite possibly the worst thing I've ever read. Full of a bunch of contradictions. It was a very amusing read though. :-)

warmi said...

Yeah, it is a bit pricey for what it does, especially compared to other tablets but ... this is Apple you are talking about and if they manage to correctly scale up iPhone style experience to this device, none of it will matter.
In other words, if it works as good and is as simple as the iPhone it won't matter that it doesn't run a “real" operating system - people will buy it.

DMThomas said...

@Elai It's also 499 times more expensive than a candy bar.

DMThomas said...

@warmi Read this and your definition of a "real" operating system might change.

warmi said...

"read this and your definition of a "real" operating system might change."

I meant it in a practical sense ... for instance being able to run on your tabled all kinds of apps you are used to running on your PC.

Colin said...

Thanks for your "off topic" articles the last few days. I was pretty cynical (like a lot of people) when they announced the iPad but you've pretty much put everything into perspective.

Mostly Torn said...

"I don't hate my dishwasher because I can't get to the command line."

As amusing as that line is, it does help put it into perspective. It seems most people are putting down the iPad because of what they expected or hoped it to be (a full computer) rather than looking at it for what it is (a very versatile appliance).

Jeff LaMarche said...

Elai:

It's not 5x more expensive than a DVD player with a comparably sized screen, it's more like 1.5 - 2x. But even at 5x, it does a hell of a lot more than 5x, and you don't have to carry DVDs with you.

Mike An said...

As a mobile software architect, my mind is buzzing with things I can do with the iPad. I feel exactly like you do in this article. I find myself having to argue with my peers and other techies that this device has value in the ecosystem of mobile devices. People just want it to be something that is not.

I actually used the analogy today of "you can't get mad at your fridge because it's not a toaster", so I got a kick out of your dishwasher comment.

Jeremy Olson said...

Completely agree. I too was apalled at the writer's analysis. Apple isn't trying to sell this to us geeks, at least not as our primary work-station. Its not about us.

I work at a software development firm and a bunch of my colleagues shared the same sentiment: "its just an oversized iPod Touch, it can't do flash, it doesn't multitask, yada yada yada..."

That is ABSOLUTELY right! It is a huge iPod Touch and that is HUGE. As an iPhone developer and user interface designer I am blown away at the potential for amazing new user interfaces never before imagined, never before possible. Think about the little unique widgets that have come out for the iPhone (i.e. Ocarina) that were never before possible. How much more on this huge display.

Another point, and one that convinced my boss of it's value, is that this is the cheapest way to get the full internet experience, anywhere. Now, yes, it is ATT but their network will improve over time. And not only is it the full internet everywhere, according to some it is the most enjoyable experience of the internet anywhere.

What irks me so much is that this thing is bringing in a new paradigm of computing, at least in terms of the user interfaces we will be able to build, and people are casting it aside because it doesn't do flash or doesn't have a camera. How short-sighted can you get.

Chris Pratt said...

I loved the comparison to complaints about a dishwasher or DVD player at the close of your post. Very poignant.

I think the iPad will be a great device. My only complaint is that I won't be able to watch Netflix or Hulu on it, because that would be killer. However, that's more a complaint against Netflix and Hulu than Apple. We don't need no stinkin' Flash; we just need these services to modern up and get the heck off the Flash train.

Mike Cane said...

Oh god yes! I agree.

No, Really, iPad Critics: Just STFU!

earcar said...

you got it

Greg Herlein said...

But it's not good for movies - it has a dumb 4:3 aspect ratio. Apple missed the use cases on this. People will love it because it's Apple, not because it's better. It does not do a damn thing that other tablets don't already do. Android tablets will do a LOT more for less money. The first one that can have a really polished user experience will eat Apple's cake.

geoffking said...

@GregHerlein
You hit the nail on the head when you said "The first one that can have a really polished user experience will eat Apple's cake." ...

This is precisely what Apple has been betting on for years. No-one has managed a reliable, consistent, polished user experience like Apple's.

PhoneFreelancer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PhoneFreelancer said...

Call me crazy but I feel the iPad may be a bad product for Apple. For a lot of people who already have phones and laptops, it really isnt needed. Should be interesting.

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Ben said...

I was thinking I'd buy one for my granny, she loves my iPhone but finds it a bit small. The idea of something that does require much training and the closed environment means I don't have to worry about tech support. She'd love the ability to watch video, read books, look at photos and surf the web. Sure, it doesn't multitask (yet) but neither does granny.

My mum has already said she wants one. I want one for watching TV in bed. The BBC recently claimed this is where a lot of iPlayer viewing took place. In fact I can see myself buying four or five of these...

demitri said...

@Mike An: I don't think your analogy "you can't get mad at your fridge because it's not a toaster" is a fair one. It's like seeing that fridge and noticing - hey, there's a bread shaped compartment and a heating element and a button clearly marked "toast", but the clear door in front of it is locked. Yes, I know it's labelled "Fridge", but it's obvious I can toast bread too.

Some people may choose to see the iPad as an appliance, and Apple may want you to see it as such, but we all here know it's a full computer. It's the whole new world of possibilities of a tablet computer that a lot of us got so excited about. Sure, it can play movies and music, but the CPU is far more powerful than what is needed for those tasks.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not disappointed at all. It hasn't been released yet. Everything that we want will find its way to the iPad - a terminal, development tools like a python interpreter, etc. etc. - one way or another. And Apple won't mind because we're buying them.

Nicolas Goles said...

I think the iPad is a great device... my mother and father, they already want one. For me it's not a device I would still buy ( maybe just for development ), but as Jeff mentioned, I may not be in the target market (but, who knows, maybe I get in love with it after buying one for developing )

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Vargo said...

I could launch the same criticism at her article that I could at this blog post, honestly. Namely, both seem to miss a big root cause of all the criticism: people don't know who/what this thing is intended for. We can use the "it's not designed for you" excuse until we're blue in the face, but the fact is that Apple failed to nail down a concrete profile of someone for whom this device is fitting. And the sense that I and many others took away is that they weren't entirely sure.

Its lack of features we geeks were hoping for led us to believe that perhaps it was for a casual user, but the extensive iWork demos and external keyboard contradicted these assumptions. It has extensive photo/video capabilities, but why no camera?

At some point we have to stop being apologists and realize that even Apple can be faced with non-ideal situations in which they have to make the best of what they have. Just because the device turned out the way it did does not imply that it was all part of Apple's master plan. They are not infallible. They may have had to cut features due to time, resource, or technical constraints and to assume they are beyond these limitations is naive.

That said, as far as I'm concerned, this device is a canvas. Its worth will be shown through the ability of app creators to create compelling experiences for it, and if the iPhone is any indication, I can bet we're going to be pleasantly surprised.

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