mannerisms

Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.

Portable But Not Pocketable: Why iPad?

Do I want to pay another £30 a month to a network operator?

 

Do I want to carry around a ten inch screen?

 

Do I want to read books on a bright screen?

 

‘Gorgeous’ is a word Steve Jobs used several times as he demo-ed the iPad, and it looked a lovely thing but, as he sat back in his big black leather chair, the uses which he demo-ed looked trivial to me, and available elsewhere.

 

The iPad will be a stylish thing to have lying on your coffee table. It will be admired and touched and used by you and your guests, but do you need it?

 

To all these questions, the answer is:

 

No.

Tags: a330, coffee table, network operator, several times, steve jobs

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24 Comments

  1. Wade Gory
    August 11, 2010 20:11

    I’m not so sure. With the iPad priced at $500, the $150 Kindle is an obvious alternative, if you only want an ereader. In the long run, as you say, more people will probably want iPads, because they do more, but I doubt the iPad will completely squash the ereader market just yet, because of it’s price point. The iPad will never sell for less than around $400, because if it did, it would cut into iPod touch sales, which wouldn’t be good for Apple. The Kindle, however, will probably go down to around $100 at some point, which will leave it well ahead of the iPad in terms of pricing. I’d personally love to have an iPad, but right now I’d buy a Kindle instead, just because I don’t need an iPad for anything but ereading.

  2. El Rupester
    February 05, 2010 21:12

    Mike Bryant, Stefano
    The application I use to make my Nokia into a WiFi hotspot is JOIKU. I think there are others.
    Connect my son’s iPOD Touch to internet while we are out, allow a colleague visiting from US to do email without him running up roaming bills.

  3. El Rupester
    February 05, 2010 21:08

    I think I’m with Bill or Philip — I can see the usefulness.
    Maybe this version isn’t quite right, but v2…?
    A lot of the time with commuting or on plane trips I’d like something to listen to music, and to browse or read email. A laptop unfolded is cumbersome, and I don’t actually need a keyboard for this, while a smartphone is often a bit small to read.
    The “pad” is an accurate description – it is similar to a notepad of paper, and as easy to carry around.
    In the office or at home I plug in external fuillsize keyboard to work on – so do I need to carry my laptop’s builtin keyboard?
    Talking to a friend: he has a laptop, Sony EReader and an MP3 player. Oh yeah, and a phone of course. Maybe there’s some consolidation…?
    As I say, this version isn’t quite there: it needs multi-tasking, and USB would be better for keyboard.
    But I quite like the idea

  4. David Manners
    February 03, 2010 11:00

    The thing is, Philip, everyone expects to be blown away whern Apple trails an announcement and, if the new announcement doesn’t turn out to be instantly mind-blowing, there’s a feeling of being let down – as in this case. I think the feeling is pretty general.

  5. Philip Kirkpatrick
    February 03, 2010 08:18

    Having read all the excellent comments, I thought I’d stand up for Apple a little and say that I think the new iPad is excellent fun and looks like the most easy-to-use ‘computer’ ever.
    Do I need one? No, but then I am probably not a member of the target audience – being more than a little computer-literate. The fact that we are talking about the iPad shows that it has already made a big impact and I think that it will be a run-away success since those still terrified by computers will embrace it with open arms.
    For the record, I own 3 desktop Macs (of differing technologies), a MacBook and an iPhone. There are other PC-type laptops or desktops in my house, but I never claim to own them! ;)

  6. David Manners
    February 02, 2010 16:43

    What would be satisfying, Bill B, is a custom assembly contractor where you decide how you want your product – screen size, form factor, keyboard type, functions etc, and the contractor manufactures it for you with your initials on the lid.

  7. Bill B
    February 02, 2010 15:29

    Do I need it? No. But then I have an iPhone and I don’t need that either. I do a lot of commuting and having something to while away the hours between delays is a nice thing to have .. but not essential.
    I also own a netbook. Do I need it? No. But it is nice and portable and I can take it to the pub and browse/do my email/watch videos etc.
    My one complaint is that several times I’ve found the keyboard a pain to use when balancing it on my lap .. it has to be put on a flat surface. What I really want is something like my netbook that has the keyboard ripped away and an iTouch like soft keypad.
    Ah …

  8. David Manners
    February 02, 2010 14:28

    Well funnily enough, Geoff, I do think the iPad fulfils an ideal many people have held for many years of an all-purpose entertainment/work tool. But I always thought it could only be realised when we had rectractable,folding/roll-up screens, because otherwise the tool would be too heavy and too awkward to carry around. So to me it’s a step along the road but not the destination. And i think you’re 100% right about 3G. I gather there’ll be a sort of iPad Touch version without 3G and I’d assume this will be popular as your at-home coffee table/bedside all-purpose entertainment/work tool.

  9. David Manners
    February 02, 2010 14:19

    I like that ‘Apple-smugs’, James S, and Yes I can see them waving their iPads around in cafes and bars but think of the satisfying crash tinkle tinkle if a dweeb drops one

  10. Geoff Revill
    February 02, 2010 12:35

    The only question is, is there an audience between the laptop PC and the smartphone or phone. I agree with Jobs, there is, and they are targeting it pretty well imo.
    The problem with this debate so far is that its focussed on whether current users of devices at either end of the spectrum could be convinced to buy an iPad. Most won’t.
    The more important question is, is there a CONSUMER audience, who have not bought into smartphones or PC’s that can be convinced to buy a device like this?
    portability, app functionality, non techi user friendly i/f, and most importantly price, are key to accessing this new audience.
    As ever, Jobs has done the best job so far of addressing the previously unaddressed audience with a device that will convince many non techi people to use something that otherwise would have been too scary for them.
    Frankly 3g connectivity is a sop for that part of the techi audience who might adopt such a device. I don’t think the majority of this new audience will care initially about 3g connectivity. They might adopt it later though.
    BTW I am not a mac fan, never had one, never had an iphone. But I am a fan of the marketing expertise of Apple in their ability to address consumer audiences with technical product. I think this will be a slow burn, but 2 years from now it will be recognised as having addressed a whole new audience that previously few had tried to sell to with this sort of product.

  11. James S
    February 02, 2010 12:22

    But David – the ‘Apple-smugs’ will love it.
    Picture them now waving their latest piece of techno-dweebery around in the Pizza Express establishments world-wide. Itching to get back into their 3-series (‘I’ve made it ! well sort of’) BMWs for that real driving experience.
    Me, I’ll have left my computing gear at the office, where it belongs in the hope that I can slip the domestic leash and head down to ‘ The Royal George’ and hoist a few scoops with some of the few remaining real people in this world not tethered to wireless communications – aaaaarrrgh !
    James

  12. David Manners
    February 02, 2010 10:58

    I thought iPad lacked a camera, Manik

  13. Manik Mahajan
    February 02, 2010 06:39

    A large section of consumers like to have specialized devices .The functionality of an ipod , a mobile phone , a laptop , digital camera ,handy cam and GPS navigator can easily be found in a convergence device (Although with loss of quality) but all these are doing great as independent devices in the market.
    iPad adds to this list and will raise the bar for convergence devices.

  14. Mike Bryant
    February 02, 2010 02:24

    Stefano – I realise the hardware can do it but at least in Europe I think this feature is usually disabled at the request of the network operators who want to sell 3G dongles on data contracts. There have been several hack-arounds for the phones but these usually get closed pretty quickly.

  15. David Manners
    February 01, 2010 11:06

    Thanks Stefano, that’s most useful. Next time I’m in the uS I’ll try and get one – it’s bound to be a rip-off price over here.

  16. Stefano
    February 01, 2010 10:14

    David, all modern smartphones can be ‘transformed’ into a wireless router (i.e. access point) to share the 3G data connection with other gizmos with wifi connectivity.
    I do this with no issues with my windows mobile HD2, I used to do with Android phones,I know for sure there’s an application for symbian phones and should exist a similar application for iphone as well so we just covered 90% of the market
    So you’re sorted! Go and buy an iPad :)
    Only disadvantage would be you mobile phone will suck battery faster of course!

  17. David Manners
    January 30, 2010 17:20

    Elisabeth, good to hear from you again. You’re absolutely right about netbooks, I bought one just before Christmas and it’s just fine for Internet/email connexion and word processing which is all I want it for.

  18. David Manners
    January 30, 2010 17:12

    Yes Mike it was exactly that problem of having to take out another monthly sub which put me off.

  19. Mike Bryant
    January 30, 2010 13:46

    One application I can see the iPad doing really well at, provided it can be securely mounted, is for point of sale and information systems where the multi-touch facility is light years ahead of the “touch and hope” systems such as Virgin trains use for their ticket purchasing machines.
    Regarding its use as intended, I haven’t seen mention yet on whether iPhone and iPad can be linked wirelessly so as to have just a single 3G subscription to the phone in your pocket. Without this I think it is dead in the water.

  20. Elisabeth
    January 29, 2010 23:07

    I fully agree with you, David.
    The iPad is something between the iPhone and the (smallest ?) laptop, but too big on one side and too little powerful on the other. Just one more gadget with, for sure, a brilliant marketing idea to sell more content, applications, etc. Brilliant, yes, and the display is so glossy which looks very very nice, but you can’t use it outside in the sun ! So what ? Just one more thing to show off with.
    And re. the price, Apple is quite smart: it’s not as high as expected … but then, you have to look at what you “really” get for 499 $ …
    By the way, there are now very nice netbooks, small enough, with real good battery life and not too expensive. Netbooks you can really work with, not just gadgets.
    All the Best to you …

  21. Steve
    January 29, 2010 22:12

    I think Steve Jobs is right in that the space between smart ‘phone and laptop is not convincingly occupied…

    It’s occupied by a distinct lack of space. I have no idea what all this “tablet talk” is about. I believe this will die as quickly as UMIDs did, and for precisely the same reason: there is no “there” there.

  22. David Manners
    January 29, 2010 16:05

    Thank you for that vote of confidence, Andrew B, but the essence of Stuck4Words is its suitability for a pocketable platform. Lugging out a 9″+ beast at a socially challenging moment may not be ideal

  23. January 29, 2010 15:59

    Oh! I thought your pub-based team of developers would have got their hands on the iPad SDK already and be hard at work on a gorgeous upgrade of Stuck4Words. ;-)

  24. Stooriefit
    January 29, 2010 09:44

    I was having very similar thoughts as I watched the presentation last night … possibly coloured by your post on the Motorola chap’s comments about pocketability.
    I think Steve Jobs is right in that the space between smart ‘phone and laptop is not convincingly occupied, but I agree with you that the iPad doesn’t fit the bill either.
    Crudely, the iPad hardware is an overgrown iPod touch or iPhone, depending on the model you choose. It is by means of the software, content and usability that Steve is trying to convince us that the device is “gorgeous”, and that we have to have one, and that we have to carry it around with us. This content and usability was achieved by souping up the iPhone OS, not scaling up the iPod touch.
    I wonder what the reception for mackbook air mechanicals with a Pa-risc designed engine would have been? ARM cores, with on chip graphics, running at 1GHz might have given battery life of 10 to 20 hours rather than 5 (maybe, I don’t know the power budget for any of these products, but dropping out what I’m guessing is 25W of processor + graphics in the MB air for the Apple SoC has to be a good thing). The iPad seems to have all the software you ever need to use in an airport, with buckets of speed and fitness for purpose evident from SJ’s presentation. The keyboard & hinge design is a handy way to protect a large screen, and means the screen doesn’t need to be so expensive (no touch sensitivity nor so much robustness needed). The keyboard and mouse are also still almost everyone’s favorite way of interacting with information.
    I think Apple may actually have missed the chance to define a really useful device in the no-mans-land between proper laptop and smart phone. They have forgotten that the reason we ditched the keyboard was for pocketability, and have fought shy of cannibalising their own laptop sales with something that would have really done the business.
    The only other people I can see making such a product stick are Google – they understand usability (like Apple and un-like Microsoft), don’t have a laptop product line to cannibalise, and are big enough not to be bullied by Intel.

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