Wait, Who Wants A Proprietary, Locked Down Device That Limits What You Can Do?

from the why-are-you-buying-an-ipad? dept

I honestly didn’t have very much to say about Apple’s introduction of the iPad, which seems like something of a non-event, really. However, it’s fascinating to see some, such as Nick Carr, react to the device by suggesting that it’s the beginning of the end of the “PC era” in favor of specialized proprietary devices that allow companies to lock things down, act as gatekeepers and, perhaps more importantly, tollbooths:

The transformation in the nature of computing has turned the old-style PC into a dinosaur. A bulky screen attached to a bulky keyboard no longer fits with the kinds of things we want to do with our computers. The obsolescence of the PC has spurred demand for a new kind of device — portable, flexible, always connected — that takes computing into the cloud era.

Suddenly, in other words, the tablet is a solution to a problem everyone has. Or at least it’s one possible solution. The computing market is now filled with all sorts of networked devices, each seeking to fill a lucrative niche. There are dozens of netbooks, the diminutive cousins to traditional laptops, from manufacturers like Acer and Asus. There are e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. There are smartphones like Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Nexus One. There are gaming consoles like Sony’s Wii and the Microsoft’s Xbox. In some ways, personal computing has returned to the ferment of its earliest days, when the market was fragmented among lots of contending companies, operating systems, and technical standards.

While it’s true that all of those offerings exist, with some being more successful than others, I still wonder how sustainable most of those really are in the long term. We’ve said before that limited, locked-down proprietary solutions often win early on, but over time they quite often get surpassed by more open offerings. This isn’t always true, but it does happen quite frequently. The locked down offerings may be better initially due to a benevolent dictator — and the open solutions may be quite messy at first due to the design-by-committee nature of the crowd, but over time the crowd gets better (or, more accurately, those who are better within the crowd begin to shine and take over), while the benevolent dictator has trouble keeping up.

Instead, I think Tim Lee’s analysis of the iPad makes a lot more sense, noting that Apple is making a mistake in simply trying to funnel people into a proprietary setup with a tollbooth and controls:

The [iPhone App] store is an unnecessary bottleneck in the app development process that limits the functionality of iPhone applications and discourages developers from adopting the platform. Apple has apparently chosen to extend this policy–as opposed to the more open Mac OS X policy–to the iPad.

With the iPhone, you could at least make the argument that its restrictive application approval rules guaranteed the reliability of the iPhone in the face of tight technical constraints. The decision not to allow third-party apps to multitask, for example, ensures that a misbehaving app won’t drain your iPhone’s battery while it runs in the background. And the approval process makes it less likely that a application crash could interfere with the core telephone functionality.

But these considerations don’t seem to apply to the iPad. Apple is attempting to pioneer a new product category, which suggests that reliability is relatively less important and experimentation more so. If a misbehaving application drains your iPad battery faster than you expected, so what? If you’re reading an e-book on your living room couch, you probably have a charger nearby. And it’s not like you’re going to become stranded if your iPad runs out of batteries the way you might without your phone. On the other hand, if the iPad is to succeed, someone is going to have to come up with a “killer app” for it. There’s a real risk that potential developers will be dissuaded by Apple’s capricious and irritating approval process.

Furthermore, the same two pieces seem to differ on the ability of Apple to really significantly create such a world where Apple gets to act as the tollbooth for all content. Carr notes:

Today, Jobs’s ambitions are grander than ever. His overriding goal is to establish his company as the major conduit, and toll collector, between the media cloud and the networked computer. Jobs doesn’t just want to produce glamorous gizmos. He wants to be the impresario of all media.

Which suggests a rather forward thinking position of Jobs. Lee, on the other hand, sees it in exactly the opposite manner:

Apple seems determined to replicate the 20th century business model of paying for copies of content in an age where those copies have a marginal cost of zero. Analysts often point to the strategy as a success, but I think this is a misreading of the last decade. The parts of the iTunes store that have had the most success–music and apps–are tied to devices that are strong products in their own right. Recall that the iPod was introduced 18 months before the iTunes Store, and that the iPhone had no app store for its first year. In contrast, the Apple TV, which is basically limited to only playing content purchased from the iTunes Store, has been a conspicuous failure. People don’t buy iPods and iPhones in order to use the iTunes store. They buy from the iTunes store because it’s an easy way to get stuff onto their iPods and iPhones.

Certainly, both Carr and Lee seem to agree about Jobs’ ambitions and plans over the iPad, but where they seem to differ is the likelihood of it actually happening in any real way. If I could bet on either prediction, I’d go with Lee’s.

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Comments on “Wait, Who Wants A Proprietary, Locked Down Device That Limits What You Can Do?”

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Nate (profile) says:

My motto today has been “iPad, more like iFad.” I really fail to see how this device will catch on beyond branding. I read that the device can’t multitask. Makes sense if they want to extend battery life, but this seems backwards. Aren’t we all accustomed to multitasking? I thought multitasking is a feature most people would want. Throw in the other silliness discussed above I just don’t understand how anyone could justify $500 for it.

Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, but very people liked the first-gen iPod (or even bought it since it was only compatible with Macs). It didn’t really take off until around the 3rd or 4th generation I think.

Similarly, while there were people going crazy over the first iPhone, it wasn’t until they introduced the App Store with the 2.0 OS that the true value of the iPhone became clear.

It’s *possible* that the iPad 2 or 3 will be super amazing. That doesn’t mean the first-gen device is worth 500 bucks though. It just means we should probably wait a year to see what Apple comes out with next.

Anony1 says:

I already have a notebook computer, which is plenty small and portable. I have no need for a trendy sized netbook (what I consider the computerized version of the trendy small dog-look how cool I am-my computer is sooo small), let alone an “ipad”. The thing is bulky has hell frankly.
It also has no multi-tasking for aps according to reports I’ve read. I agree 100 % with nate. It does seem like Apple finally has bought it’s own BS, not that it hasn’t innovated with the other offerings. Just that this time, they finally limited themselves too much, comformed too much. I have no need or desire to replace my notebook with a touch screen keyboard I constantly have to clean, that has half the functionality, but is really cool looking. No thanks. Expensive and locks me into a contract as well? LOL.
Clearly a product designed for those with too much time, and too much money.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I agree. I don’t take my laptop everywhere but I can take it anywhere that I would carry a shopping bag or briefacse.

I do take my phone everywhere where I am fully clothed – and have a pocket to put it in.

There IS no in – between state where I could take the iPad but not the laptop. Only posers and apple junkies will buy this.

Hang on a minute – I can think of one use…

It could perhaps be used as an electronic music book for choir singing or orchestral playing. However the music publishers will probably lock it down so that this used is too expensive.

Plus this isn’t exactly a big market…

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Better check this out

“but the long and the short of it is that you’re going to have a hard time finding a carrier offering Micro SIMs in the short term since the GSMA doesn’t appear to be actively spearheading a mass conversion in the short term. In fact, from AT&T’s perspective, this is better than a software lock in some ways — you’re not going to be able to download a hack that gets you on another network, so you’re totally at the mercy of your carrier at choice for providing a compatible card. Intentionally evil? Perhaps not — all standards have to start somewhere — but it’s an awful pain in the ass.#


Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you want 3G speeds, your only choice is AT&T anyway. The radio doesn’t support T-Mobile’s network. If the demand is there, I’m sure TMo would be quite happy to offer pre-paid Micro SIM cards though. Plus, I think you can take any SIM card you want to any GSM provider and they’ll activate it. AT&T might not let you get the data plan without their SIM card, but T-Mobile is unlikely to care much.

For the record though, AT&T USED to offer an unlimited data plan for smartphones (iPhones expressly prohibited) for $30/mo (or maybe $35/mo). Looking at their website now, this is no longer the case. Seems they’ve dropped the plan and offered it up to Apple as some kind of fancy new plan…

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:


– The radio doesn’t support the frequencies of T-Mobile’s 3G network (1700MHz). So on T-Mo, it will be EDGE.

– T-Mo already announced support for micro SIM cards at CES this year. They, too, are aggressive in the embedded space. But for now, they don’t offer them to consumers at their stores, but they offer them to enterprise partners. That is not a hard change to make, though, so expect to see it. The micro SIM is just a smaller card, much like the memory sector has gone from Compact Flash to MicroSD, the SIM sector no longer needs the SIMs to be as big as they did in 1990. Micro was designed for the future, since it is needed for small devices like meters, watches, phones, etc.

– “I think you can take any SIM card to any GSM provider” No. You can take any unlocked SIM-based device to any GSM provider, and put their SIM in it, but the SIMs are issued directly from each network carrier.

– “AT&T USED to offer an unlimited data plan for smartphones” They still do. It’s $30 now, capped at 5GB. But it has always required a voice plan, thus never was data only.

william (profile) says:

to me, today’s announcement and event are so underwhelming. I am quite disappointed. iPad could have been so much more if they open it up, but instead they close it down.

However, as pointed out to me by another commentator in that other post, for most people, this could be just good enough. I can totally see my parents using this device with ease. They both use laptop right now, but they don’t have enough knowledge to use all the functionalities. All they do is read webpage/email/watch youtube. The other day one of them want to send a photo attachment in an email. I have such a hard time teaching them about desktops/folders/saving pictures/attachments. This thing could potentially simplify all that for them.

I am just torn. It both SUCKS (for me) and GOOD (for my parents)…

Rasmus says:

Re: Re:

I think you’re right. Its targeted at older people, the baby boomer generation. Most of them has a hard time using a ordinary computer and the screen on an iPhone is just to small for their bad eyesight.

And this is a very interesting demographic for a business model based on old style thinking. First its a demographic that think buying content is how you do it. The still buy DVDs, CDs, books, magazines and they have subscriptions for Newspapers (the dead tree edition). These people will love the iPad and spend lots of money buying content in Apples iTunes Store, the AppStore and in the iBook Store.

Second its finally a device and a business model that all the baby-boomer on the boards of the large media companies can understand. So Apple will have a really easy time signing up content creators to provide their content for the iPad.

And the business model will work very well and create a lot of profits for 10-15 years. It will also make a lot of people less scared about things they don’t understand, which means they will create less damage in society. Also during this time most baby-boomers will be replaced with younger people on all decision making positions, and new better business models have emerged.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Rasmus wrote:

“I think you’re right. Its targeted at older people, the baby boomer generation. Most of them has a hard time using a ordinary computer and the screen on an iPhone is just to small for their bad eyesight.”

You’re way off on the boomer generation. My grandparents hated computers, which forced them into an early retirement when their business model became obsolete. My parents, who are now 60 and 65 years old, and their retired friends are all insanely tech-savvy. One of their friends owns a Kindle, and everyone else owns G1s or Iphones. None of them were employed in the tech sector during their working years.

Andrew F (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Plausibly. I can see my mom loving this computer until she tries to play a video on CNN.com and it won’t run because the iPad doesn’t support Flash video.

Also, even “non-tech-savvy” users have strangely demanding requirements. Says my mom, “All I want to do is check my e-mail, browse the web, use a word-processor, and watch video … oh, and I need to use Quicken because that’s what the accountant uses.”

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nope. The lack of flash player is because of a rift between Adobe and Apple on control of the app market for the devices.

Because Flash is not just video, but can support a range of apps, Apple does not want it on their devices to steal the control away from the app store.

The two companies butt heads/negotiate frequently about this, because Flash is so important, yet also such a threat to the Apple hegemony.

dwind (profile) says:


Students could use it if text books were ported to it and homework could be assigned, worked on and turned in via the ipad.
Other than that I really don’t see a use for it.
Right now for example, I’m watching a hockey game, browsing this and reading a book. Can that be done with the ipad?
I also do a lot of photography. can lightroom or aperture be loaded in it? It would have been a nice machine with mac osx and usb slots.
I’ll wait for the google version and I’m a loyal apple user.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Schools

“Right now for example, I’m watching a hockey game, browsing this and reading a book. Can that be done with the ipad?”

There’s an app for that. Or, at least, three.

Seriously, say what you will (or I have) about Apple’s tendency to closed systems, they truly “get” CwF+RtB. (Emphasis seems to be on the RtB, interestingly.)

Mikael says:

Re: Re:

I saw that too. I went to the guy’s site and it’s been corrected in the article. He had to have a commenter point it out to him. I agree with your point though. I mean that’s a pretty bad way for him to use that example. I didn’t even feel like reading the rest of what the guy had to say once I got to that point.

Mark (profile) says:

Beat that horse!

Jeebus, Masnick, you really are a one-note symphony sometimes. Who wants a locked-down device that limits what you can do? No one, of course — except consumers of iPhones and iPods. A negligible market, really — millions upon millions of people. Hardly anyone. Easy to overlook.

Consumers don’t always crave “openness.” Sometimes — actually, most of the time — they want something that works, on the first try, and makes life a little easier or more enjoyable. Apple is rolling in money because they’re good at creating that sort of device. By hooking their portable devices into iTunes they create an end-to-end experience that, in most cases, is superior to the available alternatives. People seem to like what they’re doing. Apple is never going to run their business the way you want them to. Get over it.

But what fun would that be? Instead you’d rather predict ad nauseum the imminent decline and fall of Apple. Sooner or later they’ll go into a tailspin — as every company does — and then you’ll tell us all how you were right all along. Have fun with that.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Beat that horse!


I tend to agree with you over Masnick here, but I still don’t think you understand his point.

Masnick is not saying that the iPhone, Pad, or Pod aren’t/won’t be successful. What he’s saying is that in the LONG RUN more open solutions will win out. An example is the tremendous momentum that Android has picked up in just the last year, simple because it is a more open platform than iPhone. He also believes that with that momentum, and the combined innovation and competition among members of the Android community, that it will eventually be superior to iPhone in most ways.

You cite iPhone sales as if that refutes him, but in fact it supports his theories. He always said that in the short and medium terms, these closed environments are preferred.

Now, as for how I agree with you. I think Mike, and much of the population of this board are too geeky in how they evaluate tech. Most people don’t give a rats arse about “openness” in the App Store approval process. If we asked the average iPhone user, or even person on the street about whether there were adequate choices for apps on the iPhone, they would tell you that it is the most open, most flexible, most extensible platform ever, with more apps than any other. Sure, we here know that it is not an open platform, but the customer sure sees it differently.

So while developers and we few that are tech-heads lament the App Store lock-down, the mass market does not. In general, this serves Apple quite well, and I believe it will for the long-term.

The iPad is underwhelming, but not because of it’s closed nature. It needed better screen, multi tasking, some widgets, an active wallpaper (Pointcast) on the login screen, a dock that turns it into a picture frame, and more memory. I score it a meh out of five.

jeff (profile) says:

You're thinking about it the wrong way

If the user experience is far better on a locked down, proprietary device, people will choose that one. If someone can build a tablet running Linux or Chrome OS that comes close to what the iPad can offer, then the “open” product may win. But it isn’t about whether its open or not, its about how good of a user experience it is.

mike d (profile) says:

Re: You're thinking about it the wrong way

the ipad may be locked down, but it will work. apparently people like that. nothing to think about. you don’t need to understand the internals. just use it.

look at the ipod touch. did anyone predict how well that thing would do when released? it sold like crazy over the holidays.

i am not a fanboy either. my only apple product is a B&W ipod.

DazzaJ (profile) says:

Apple Tax and Rules

My long time concern with Apple in general is their disregard for the end user or owner of their products.
They charge over the top prices for their items and then charge ongoing “Taxes” to use them. They also insist that the owner follow THEIR rules to a tee or they’ll “brick” the unit, regardless of what it cost.
If I buy a mobile computer (laptop) then I want the right to put whatever I want on it, from any source I please.
The iPad seemssilly to me, with Apple tax, restrictions, small screen, limited applications, and limited use.
Buy a laptop for $500 if you need mobility, and at home I’ll stick with a nice big clear 22″ – 24″ screen and full size keyboard.

Tom says:


Since when did Sony make a Wii? Sounds like someone didn’t do their homework. That would be NINTENDO WII and Sony PS3!

As for Steve Jobs and Apple, I am so on the fence regarding them and keep talking myself out of buying one of Apple’s locked-in devices. In fact, after reading this and getting absolutely uninspired with the Apple-gasm that all the Apple-y sycophants are gushing about, I’ve pretty much made up my mind to stickwith a platform that isn’t as “tightly” managed as theirs.

Another thing that absolutely mystifies me is how all these people can absolutely idolize Stevey boy and Apple when they are the complete antithesis of all things open. Yet, said sycophants are there verbally masturbating about “open standards” while working hypocritically on their Apple MacBook Pros and iPhoneys.

The Jobs Reality warping is in effect I guess.
Yuck, I feel so smarmily Apple-y violated after reading his comments too.

JustinH_TX (profile) says:

Not how I would do it...

I have to admit that I was let down by the details. I can very much see an application for a tablet device in my life, but the iPad falls seriously short of fulfilling my requirements. As a piece of hardware my MacBook Pro (4,1… not the new unibody) is undoubtedly the finest PC I have ever had the good fortune to own. My iPhone, again as a piece of hardware, has held up better than any phone I’ve had previously. I like Apple hardware.

I like much of OS X (though certainly not all of it).

I don’t like the Apple policies that require me to jailbreak my iPhone to do what I want with it. I don’t like philosophy that suggest that total control and the absence of options is the only way to guarantee a positive out of the box user experience (by all means, define the defaults, but leave me my options in case my opinions differ). I don’t like the Apple policy of kowtowing to the big distribution industries and locking down functionality of my devices. Why shouldn’t I be able to plug my iPod into a computer and pull my MP3s off of it just like %99 of all the other MP3 players on the market?

So… the iPad. I had hoped it would be running a version of OS X optimized for a touch screen UI. I had hoped it would have normal connectivity ports (USB). My biggest hope was that it would be a pen-and-paper replacement. Ideally it would have had some sort of hand writing recognition so that my hand written notes would be text-searchable. (This idea was demonstrated somewhat a couple of years ago on the tablet edition of Windows XP IIRC… though it had all of it’s own pitfalls which is why it was a huge failure just like the iPad will be.) But it isn’t any of these things. The device I’ve described could replace everything I carry in my backpack to school. All the paper. All the text books. All the notes. All the handouts. My graphing calculator. *Everything*

…but it is just a big iPhone. Not even that, it is a big iPod Touch. If the jailbreak community succeeds in cracking it and Linux developers succeed in bringing all of the functionality I’m talking about to it, I might buy one. In its current, crippled state I can’t imagine it being of any value to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not how I would do it...


I can’t substitute it for either my iphone or macbook pro.

But I use both of them for more than I could an ipad.

It’s really, really disappointing. I see another AppleTV here.

It’s like the engineers at Apple know how to make something totally cool and someone Jobs makes them pull out the features that would put it over the top.

Mark Harris (profile) says:

Re: Typical short-sighted "Apple Fan-boi" crap..

Yes, but can you see it as a camera control device, on location? Wirelessly. THere are times when the backscreen of the Canon is not enough and I really want to check the detail of a shot to see if I need a safety. It costs nothing but time to take one, but I might be missing something elementary that, when I get it up on the big screen, makes me *facepalm*

Wouldn’t use it for Photoshop, but might be tempted for iPhoto-mobile equivalent.

(Disclaimer: I actually use the GIMP and various apps other than iPhoto and Photoshop – I’m not a fan of them)

ECA (profile) says:

Market, and whats posible

Im sorry,
but I can not judge WHO is smart and compares products and devices of the DUMB followers.
Apple could besiege the market and over whelm it with PRODUCT for their device. Even tho its missing allot of features and overwhelm the SLOWER market to use these devices.

Im following this device.
It has allot of nice features, as well as being Double sided with options for both sides, as well as the same price range as the apple product, it also includes Android under Linux.

MBraedley (profile) says:

I'll probably get one

Why? Well for a little more than the cost of a smart phone w/o a contract, I can have a device that I’ll actually enjoy surfing the web with. Sure, my next phone will probably be a smart phone, but that’s nearly a year away, since the cancellation fee is even worse here than anything that AT&T and Verizon charges. Also, I don’t own a notebook. Never have. I just don’t think it fits in well with what I’d use such a device for, namely surfing the web, reading pdf magazines, and other rather menial tasks, when my desktop accomplishes them just as well. I’ve contemplated getting a convertible (tablet laptop that is) in the past, and for the most part enjoyed the experience with a customers convertible while working as a tech, but the touch interface (namely using only a stylus) didn’t impress me enough. With Apple’s multi-touch capabilities, it becomes much more attractive. For me, without a smart phone or a laptop, this device is almost exactly what I’m looking for, and after jail-breaking or 3rd party firmware, most likely will be exactly what I’m looking for.

ECA (profile) says:


I find it interesting that the cost of making a proprietary device MUST be more expensive then an ALL round device that will work with many formats.

The down side to “SMALLER IS BETTER”, isnt true.
How many of us waited YEARS to pay for a Good sized monitor?
NOW you want to pay for devices that are 4″ and cant handle the resolution of the original content.
These devices arent even able to display Streaming video very well. IF they can, I will ask WHY WINDOWS HAS so many problems..

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

I looked at it, and I think they should have called it:


It’s a great idea as a concept, but it’s about 3 or 4 years too early, the public is not mentally ready for it, and the technology isn’t quite there to make this one really work out.

That said, I do think that this is a bit of an indication where some things are going, and keeping a sharp eye on the underlying structure of how this device will permit and encourage revenue streams is important.

NullOp says:

2nd place

Its said no one remembers the second place finisher. I do, and it’s Apple Computers. They had to lock up the architecture and keep all the cookies to themselves. It cost them huge market share i.e. billions of dollars.

Now they come out with the iPad. Another proprietary device. Old Steve will never get it. Ya gotta open it up to the world for them to adopt it, ole buddy. Sigh…

AdamR (profile) says:

Well I guess I’m the only one here going to buy one? I am a little disappointed, I wanted to have a few more features. I will not be using it much for music but for videos and surfing the Net it going to be great, I also love the fact that my IPod Touch apps will work fine and that they will come up with nice stuff for it. I have a lot books that also have CD’s that contain PDF versions of the book and finally will have a way to read them when I travel. The other E-book readers from what I heard don’t properly display(scale) pdf’s. Also many of the pdf’s contain pictures or diagrams that couldn’t be display correctly.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Gawd Dayum. Will one of you numbskulls with the “Sony Wii” observation get a freakin clue and read the other 8 times some clever crackerjack pointed that out already, above? CTRL-F “Wii”

It was not Techdirt’s error, it was Nick Carr quoted by Techdirt. And it was probably just a trivial slip-up by Carr, too. By now, Carr fixed the mistake on his website.

But moreover…it’s totally @#$# irrelevant.

Mark Harris (profile) says:

About the Sony Wii...

That was actually Nick Carr’s error, not Mike’s. If you want to hate on the man, hate for something he said, not something he quoted someone else saying.
Unless, of course, you don’t really care about accuracy…

Mike, I don’t think I agree with Carr or Lee, completely, or your headline.
1) I think Nick’s overblowing it (IIRC he underblew the iPhone, but I could be wrong on that); maybe he doesn’t want to be caught out again. But who remembers anyway?
2) I don’t think Tim has it right with the looking backward. Jobs is trying to create a new soup-to-nuts niche that really hasn’t existed before outside the old “company store”. Even Wal-Mart buys stuff wholesale.
3) I’d have one in a New York minute, though I’d prefer to wait for v1.1 before I paid my own money.

I probably wouldn’t operate it in a way that The Steve would like, as I give this baby 72 hours in the wild before someone gets Android running on it. Unlike the iPhone, the hackers have got 2 months to prepare. Gentlemen (and I use the word loosely), start your SDKs

:) says:

Fierce competition on the apples future.

A lot of hardware manufactures are starting to use standards.



And there is the miniature form factors like the PICO-ITX (100mm × 72mm)from VIA that can play 1080p video. I can imagine a e-reader screen that when attached to a cigarette pack sized computer can do a lot of computing.

There are some eye catching and truly innovative things like the Light Blue Optic’s Light touch

For me the iPad sounds more like a rip off something like the avatar-poncahontas-smurf-style that Cameron did. But if Asia has anything to say about it the market will be flooded with modular designs that will offer a lot of options for all kinds of people.

Cynyr (profile) says:

would have bought one...

I would have bought one if it was basically a macbook air without the hinge and keyboard. It needed to be running OSX(yes i realize that the iPhone is running OSX, but i mean the full retail one for the rest of the computers). Also i looked at the tech specs page.

H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats

WTF?! Main profile level 3.1? you mean that I would now need to keep to copies of my DVD rips? a “High profile level 4.1” for my PS3(I think it will actually play the main profile level 4.0) and one for my iPad? The way it is I’d like to be ripping to h264 or theora with all the special features in a MKV, but alas the PS3 won’t handle them. I’m betting the CPU isn’t a full custom CPU, but an Arm cortex A9 with a hardware h246 decoder slapped on, with few if any tweaks.

Let me run whatever i want and i’ll shell over $650 for this with 16GB of SSD. What I want is something to watch my dvd rips in my comfy chair while the kids are watching something, and have a terminal for SSH with X forwarding for access to my desktop, and have it have it’s own web browser for reading techdirt/slashdot/penny arcade/etc. Bonus points for being sealed well enough to take to the kitchen to prop up as an electronic recipe card.

ALANTONE (profile) says:

All hail the King Apple

Under Jobs’ powerful leadership, Apple has reigned supreme over music player and smart phones. But will the IPad be the final straw that unravels Apples master plan to take over the technology world business? I think that as long as they meet their customer’s needs within an acceptable price range, Apple’s reign will be long and profitable.

Blatant Coward (profile) says:

Quote from Ars Technica

Ripped from http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/01/ars-ipad-reax.ars

“All of the above being said, I’ll buy an iPad anyway because it’s my job to be up on this kind of thing. It’ll probably also be the first time that I “jailbreak” a device. That’s because Apple’s closed ecosystem is feeling less and less like an exclusive resort and more like Big Love’s Juniper Creek compound.

If the company doesn’t figure out this whole Internet thing, soon, they’re ultimately destined to go the way of the once-mighty AOL. And if you’re itching to retort that Apple really does “get” the cloud, as is clearly evidenced by the amazing MobileMe service, then congratulations—you’re now ready to buy yourself some prairie garb and take that second wife you’ve been eyeing. “

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Quote from Ars Technica

“If the company doesn’t figure out this whole Internet
thing, soon, they’re ultimately destined to go the way
of the once-mighty AOL.”

Holy shit tacos. You’re right. I just remembered how Zune and PlaysForSure cornered the internet music market, and Nokia did real well with internet app sales for Symbian. Apple would be real smart to figure out this whole internet thing.

Corn says:

Re: Re: Quote from Ars Technica

Protip: Music/app sales and the internet are not the same thing. I’m pretty sure he was talking about things like having Flash on it.

But no, having Flash could bring up exploits in the iPhone OS. Can’t let people have exploits, it could open up the whole system, and actually make it customizable! I’m probably going to end up getting one and jailbreaking it, not because I want to mess with the internals and OS and all that, but because I may want to change the background, or the icons, or set a theme. Apple’s hardware is solid, and I like it, but their software is too damn closed off.

JustinH_TX (profile) says:

Re: Quote from Ars Technica

” . . . congratulations—you’re now ready to buy yourself some prairie garb and take that second wife you’ve been eyeing.”

I like your analogy but I don’t think you get to be the husband with many wives. If you buy into this you get to buy prairie garb and be one of Steve Job’s many wives.

– MacBook Pro user

Kevin Carson (user link) says:

What Anony1 said

I’m perfectly happy with a notebook as my main computer. I *need* a keyboard and reasonably large screen because I get a good part of my income freelance writing. I might eventually cave and buy a prepaid cell just for emergencies, but have no interest whatever in a Net connection just to fiddle with email and stuff every fucking second of my life.

Yosi says:

Proprietary? Locked?

First – what is this crap about “proprietary device”. Is there some other kind of devices, “not-proprietary”? Until today, every single device is proprietary i.e. built as company XYZ see fit.

Yes, it’s somewhat locked down. So what? Your TV set is also locked down. And your DVD. And camera. And car. And … the list goes on.

Did someone of above “open!” shouters tried to put application into Debian official repository? Try it, and suddenly Apple’s approval process will seem to you simple and straightforward.

Moreover, it’s not that match “locked down”. Similarly to IPhone jailbreaking is very simple and safe process. Guess why Apple doesn’t produce firmware update to block it? It is trivial to do, and yet they don’t do it. I’m leaving answer to reader’s exercise.

Mr RC (profile) says:

Not for me.. I really like the look of it.. but it’s too underpowered and low-tech.. and then there’s that lock-in issue… they had the potential to really do something with this.. I was expecting more… and was considering this as my first personal apple product purchase..

I think I’ll go with the one running Windows 7 … can’t remember what it’s called.. but it has the functionality and power that is useful to me….

Shame really.. spec and content wise… it’s really below par… if they come out with something better before I get the MS one… then I’ll reconsider based on the new models merits… otherwise… and as in the past… apple no gets mah moniez!

Anonymous Coward says:

I thought this was supposed to *save* the print industry

I’m very impressed with this piece of machinery, and looking forward to replacing my HP-85 desktop. It will be nice to move off of Lynx webbrowser. But, I’m looking at the pictures online and trying to figure out where to install the toner cartridge. I have a few HP LaserJet IIID cartridges lyring around that I’d like to use, but I have doubts it will fit. I’ll only buy an iPad if it will use these cartridges. Any ideas?

Anonymous Coward says:

agree with an earlier comment: everything we use is locked down. i don’t complain that i cannot put GM parts in my VW.

this device is what it is.

so what can’t you do: out of the box you cannot install firefox. ok. no MS Office… but neither of those are written for this system. Yes, I know FireFox would probably get rejected… but considering how many IE6 users there are out there, i can see most people caring. (yes i know i am on IE6, don’t get me started about our IT)

Safari is HTML5 compliant, so your calls for flash will be fading. You can watch YouTube even make calls on google voice via HTML5, no flash required. flash served its purpose, and served it well, but it is time to get away from this locked down proprietry solution to an open standards based one.

(see what i did there?)

as for the content itself, you still have mp3, mov, epub, gif, jpg, all the file standards you can want. Pages can read DOC files (cringe) as well as TXT and RTF.

multitasking? this goes back to the intention of the device. this is not a laptop replacement. think of this as the internet on your coffee table. (well, smaller, the internet is pretty big)

now, i’d like to have IM and the internet open… but as long as you can have tabs, you can use Meebo for now.

closed? closed for what? more closed than most people already see their computers? the non-tech savvy approach computers like magic anyway. content does not have to come from iTunes to get on it. it uses a surprisingly large number of standards that should be easy to make.

and there will be a lot of apps for this thing. a lot. the SDK is free. FREE!! you see that? free? so you can go write an app if you find a hole in the process.

for matlab and number crunching, i have my desktop. for wow and work on the go, my macbook pro, but this thing? this is what you surf the net on your couch while watching TV. this is reading the news at the dinner table, watching a movie on the plane.

i’m excited to see where it is going. i am not going to jump up and down and say it is the greatest thing ever, nor am i going to offhandedly dismiss it either. but rather realize that it does all the things i was going to buy an ipod touch to do, but more.

oh and books on this thing will not be such a good idea. LCD not good for your eyes over that long of a time. but they’ll see a bazillion books anyway. sigh.

ramble off.

Shawn says:

I don't get it.

Apple products… The Iphone doesn’t compare to the android phones… Ipods have very poor sound quality, all the Apple brands cost far more than they are worth… and now this Ipad thing… when the “i” fad is over, I think they will end up in the poorhouse, because there really is no logical reason to purchase them over the better and more open products (not to mention cheaper) on the market.

Anony1 says:

I bet Mike hasn’t even watched the Keynote…

Sigh…tell me when you get back from your pretend date with Steve Jobs Oh Fanny-Boy.

What because if he did (assuming he hasn’t,which he probably has) he’d wet his pants from joy?

I have a normal cell phone. I pay access for broadband on a main PC, and get home access from wi-fi through my notebook system. So I can move around the house with wi-fi. If I’m out in public I can access wi-fi hot spots. I’m covered. If I already own TWO computers, what is the point of this? NONE. There is none.

Also in response to the sarcasm displayed above, referencing people’s disappointment to the features of the ipad: It isn’t that everyone wants this to be the can opener, do all of digital devices. It’s simply that some basic things (multi-tasking, hardware power, etc,.) are not addressed by it. It to ME seems more like a proof of concept than something I would buy. For those older people who aren’t comfortable with the older style desktops, or even notebooks or netbooks, this may be an alternative. I never said it wouldn’t be a commercial success, it may be.
It just doesn’t fit a need for me.

BTW, The cocept of laser-projected keyboards has been around for awhile. Instead of typing on the screen, the Ipad could have had a built in laser to project a keyboard.
They could even include a mouse-pad like device with it, so you are not typing on a hard surface. The point is, apple had the opportunity to innovate, and didn’t. It may work for some, again, but not for me…contract or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is terrible. In fact, I am going to write the company that manufactured my car and demand it stop incorporating proprietary “stuff” in its cars. Of course, I will not stop there. Next on my list will be every manufacturer of electronic equipment I have purchased, every pharmaceutical company whose drugs I have purchased, Coca-Cola because it refuses to share it formula for the syrup used in Coke, etc.

Anony1 says:

Well AC, seems like you’re in the minority. Here’s a little survey data courtesy of Wired.com:

“Though Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced the iPad as a device that would occupy the world between smartphones and laptops, potential customers aren’t convinced. A full 71 percent of 934 readers polled said they won’t buy an iPad, because they are happy with their smartphone and notebook.”

Correction from my last post also: “The cocept” should read: The concept. Also my laser-keyboard built in projector idea seems like a good one, especially since even Jobs slammed the included one stating, he wouldn’t use if for “too long”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

>>Here’s a little survey data courtesy of Wired.com

And that’s where the argument fails. Chances are more likely that “71% of 934 polled readers” on the day of a product launch, at a technology site, is likely a high percentage people with a vested interest in their own technology and researching the new entrant. If your real honest, you would realize that most of the true “potential customers” probably haven’t even heard of the device. This “little survey” is just that. Little, and probably not entirely accurate.

Anony1 says:

@AC:And that’s where the argument fails…

LOL. “Chances are” huh? You mean by your uninformed, undeducated, lacking basic-statistical analysis, opinion?
If “you” are real honest, YOU wouldn’t try to make some factually-devoid argument over the internet in some lame Apple defense. I like a lot of what Apple has done, this I don’t. I’m no fan-boy, but not a hater either. If you knew the SLIGHTEST thing about statistics, you would shut up and quiety walk away from the keyboard. If anything people on a technology site are likely to be MORE informed, not less, and probably educated, and having money. You know like the type of customers Apple hopes to sell to ? Why don’t you read all the reasons the people in the survey, and here are not interested in being sold some underpowered, overhyped paperweight. If you so chose to buy it, have fun. As I said it may be a commercial success, but from most of the input so far, most likely not. You’re entitled to your opinion. What you’re not entitled to is to spew absolutely false BS, and make baseless arguments, and not be called on it. DUMB$HIT.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well, you seem angry, but informed enough to share collection and demographic information Wired used as a basis in conducting this survey. Would you care to share? I’m particularly interested in how they derived “[people] are happy with their smartphone and notebook” from the survey data, and how understanding how this does not imply a “vested interest in their own technology”. Also, by vested interest, this could be either from a consumer OR technology professional’s perspective. People who have adopted a PC ecosystem may not find it desirable, and this may have influenced the results.

The underlying point is that it’s a device made to fill a gap between a smartphone or notebook, and not necessarily made to replace it, and it seems people think that’s the purpose. To fix this, there’s an issue of defining what it’s purpose actually is and maybe Apple needs to work to better define that key part of the product story.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Could it also be that readers of Wired magazine are not the target market for this device?

Wired polled “their readers”. That’s a massive bias to have when you ask the technology elite whether they would want to buy a device targeted at the mass market.

It’s like asking readers of the WSJ whether they are likely to buy the latest CD from Jay-Z.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nah, you’re right. Score one for you. Call me a fanboi and doing bother addressing the glaring, serious, mathematical reality of survey bias.

Only one thing more annoying than Apple Fanbois, and that’s the anti-Fanbois. The irony is that, with Macs holding on tightly to that 8% of the market that would never leave them, far more than 8% are anti-Apple. Look, Luci, just don’t buy one yourself and STFU. Works for me. I don’t use any Apple myself. But I’m not so thick-skulled that I can’t see a successful mass-market product through my anti-Fanboi hate.

I don’t think this iPad has much to offer the market, but I’m pretty sure asking Wired readers if they want one is not the way to find out.

Overtkill (profile) says:


Tablet computing… Bill Gates mentioned this concept since the Windows XP launch. Dell sells (and has for a couple years now) PC and Windows based laptops that convert to a tablet simply by opening the display, rotating it 180 degrees, then closing it.

Sure, it costs a lot more up front, but you get a whole lot better hardware (CPU/RAM/Storage), a bigger display, and multitasks its butt off. And did I mention its 100% compatible with your PC?

Something else… You won’t spend a for content and software! It seems to me that that the Apple method is to nickel and dime its users to death?

Cost effective, ultra portable laptops (Intel ATOM Based) are at or below the cost of one of these. I suspect that we’ll see one from a PC vendor real soon that will outclass this thing.

The IPad is ultra spendy for what you get. Then again, I’ve never been hip enough for Apple’s products. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hmm...

Again, there’s this pervasive idea that it is something it wasn’t designed to be. It wasn’t designed to be a laptop. If people wanted a laptop, Apple would have reduced their laptop product line to facilitate the new product. If you go in thinking it’s a laptop, expectations will be set too high. You don’t “need” tech specs as much as you need to know it works for what you want to do. Read books, check newspapers, decent battery life, and hookups to a TV provide more actual developer and platform options than any amount of CPU speed, or memory to manage the OS overhead.

You know, depending on build quality, it could be a sweet little data collection device. Perhaps it could have practical use in the medical industry, or for field workers. I wonder if Apple or FMTouch plans to extend SDK functionality to allow native connections to databases. I’d like to see additions to the SDK to allow something like the FMTouch app (maybe even acquire FMTouch) so it could talk to existing industrial/commercial databases.

Anony1 says:

@AC: I’m not angry. I am offended by people who blantently attack basic statistical analysis, with no reasoning behind it other than that the results don’t sit well with them. I’m under no obligation,nor do I have the ability to provide the backround sampling data. You’re well aware of that. I don’t work for wired. I was simply providing another data reference set. I’ll link to the story if you wish, and you can decide for yourself. To simply come at me however, and make an accusation that the survey is inaccurate, with no evidence however, definately puts you in the “not to be taken seriously” category. Yes. I stand by that 100 %.

Here’s the link, DUMBA$$:


Anony1 says:

is likely a high percentage people with a vested interest in their own technology..
FALSE. They are Wired.com readers,and although there may be many PC fans, there were plently of comments from disappointed Apple users. I could go on an on, from YOUR incorrect use of the word “your” when it should have been “you’re” to your hedging assumptions presented as fact:

Chances are…


to the best part : , you would realize that most of the true “potential customers” probably haven’t even heard of the device

Really? Any evidence to point to that? No? More uniformed dribble opinion?

How about ALL of the features lacking, THAT I mentioned, and others have. It may be a successful niche product, MAY, but nothing points to winner. Sorry AC fan-boy. Being able to convince a small sub-set of consumers to buy a product doesn’t make it useful, or a success. It may well end up being profitable for Apple, but that doesn’t make it a desirable product. Is that so difficult to compute? Done here….

Woadan says:

Microsoft and its hardware partners (notably ASUS and Samsung) introduced the UMPC in 2006. The tablets did not impress, in part because they did not live up to the hype from the viral campaign that came before the devices, and in part because they had poor battery life and were for the most part underpowered.

All I can see with the iPad is that Apple has taken the UMPC into the present, using the better technology we have 4 years later.

On a side note, there were plenty of people at the time of its release that ridiculed the UMPC platform because it was too big to put in a pocket, and too small to be used as a primary machine. UMPCs were also ridiculed because of the lack of a keyboard.

One wonders, then, if the iPad is going to become the Jesus tablet like the iPhone became the Jesus phone, or if it is going to be as ridiculed as the UMPC.

Oh, who the hell am fooling? It’s got the Apple logo on it and the Jobs’ stamp of approval. Of course it’s going to sell like hotcakes. But it is still lacking, MSRP aside, what the UMPCs were also lacking four years ago.

Anony1 says:

I really am just wondering at this point who the heck is the real Steve Jobs. I really don’t get it. Was this a buisness decision just to focus on increasing Apple profits, or simply cacoon like insulation from reality on his part? It seems Jobs fell into the “what we’ve done in the past worked, so will this” approach. I think Jobs management style, and the internal Apple-CULTure are what possibly failed here. They have the music player, and smart phone markets cornered. I was expecting a super-slim tablet computer run off the MAC-OS. It might have been really expensive, but at least then with the features they could justify it. It seems Apple has gone from innovate existing product lines, to just re-hasing their own product lines. If this is Jobs legacy, his last hurrah, that would be pretty sad, from an innovation perspective.

me says:

no 3gs?

just noticed 3g not 3gs??? im only guessing but i think they will bring out a “better” 3gs version, maybe with a nice glossy back casing, within the next 12 months so all the apple fans will have to buy a new one each year to keep up with the latest ones. apple knows that their fans know this will happen, and they know they will buy another one next year and probably the year after that…. probably at the same time of year that they will renew their iphones!
i must admit though the ipad is nice looking but i feel that if i bought one it would get used as much as the portable dvd player ive had in its box the past couple of years. 64gb is too small anyway for a laptop type product in my opinion. just an expensive netbook

Anony1 says:

@Derek Kerton: I was going to let it go, but then you really went off the deep end.

“Useles survey”> Define “useless”, oh please do tell.
It’s a survey of readers imbeded in a complete break down of all aspects of the iPad. It gauged the readers initial reaction based on what the iPad does. Wired.com readers are pretty geeky, but geeks are also part of the mass market. It’s an Apple device. They are a tech crowd. Peanut butter, meet jelly. OK. Please go grab a brain and retype that post. I wouldn’t mind playing keyboard jousting here but man, can you come across as one arrogant SOB. You made very sound, logical, and relavent points on your technical analysis. Stick to that.

“WSJ whether they are likely to buy the latest CD from Jay-Z.” Totally devoid of facts there. Wired is a tech mag. Apple is a tech company. Again, peanut butter and jelly. Totally complementary. The iPad is not designed for the mass-market, as there is no market for it that is mass.
From Cnet, to Wired, to techdirt, everyone is questioning this one. Most people neither have the desire for, nor can afford this new device. It isn’t “mass” by any stretch of the imagination. It will be a niche product at best, for the niche market. You just don’t like me, which is fine, but please don’t come across as completely stupid by ignoring the facts. Sheesh….

Anony1 says:

Did you even bother to go to Wired.com link I provided and look at the link before making your comment? Based on your comment, I’d have to say that’s a big NO.

Also you give it a “meh out of five”, but then go on to complain how the “geeks” here are overreacting, after describing the most minute details of flash vs. MicroSD.
Pot, meet Kettle…..

Anony1 says:

You like facts right? OK, Let’s look at the facts Derek.

What are the total numbers of people currently paying a contracted cell phone bill in the US alone?
What about smart phones?
How many netbooks were sold in the US in December (hint: The PC industry had a record sales year in 2009 due to the sale of netbooks and “traditional” notebooks, and PCs”
People with both PCs and regular cell phones/smart phones are alrady paying at least a monthy fee for internet access on their “PC” (desktop,notebook, or netbook) plus a cell phone bill. For MOST smartphone users that also means an additional data plan. The mass market is defined as those who can afford all this. Let’s say middle class and above. Now they are going to buy a device in mass, meaning tens of millions of units, that to get good use out of, they will have to pay an additional data plan just for that device?! Even when the functionality is 99.99 % duplicated on their other devices? Really?! Really? No sir. No way. Millions of users are not out their making comments just to bash Apple.
They’re making the comments because like YOU Mr. “Meh out of five” they probably have no intention of buying one.
It’s a toy for the wealthy, and may make Apple profit, but you can stick your factless analysis somewhere where you won’t get very good 3G coverage. Comprende? I sure hope so.

NQ Logic (profile) says:

Apple iPad

With the launch of the iPad tablet, Apple has managed to become the ultimate digital go-between company for high quality and high price content in a small yet very affluent segment of the population … NQ Logic encourages you to check out why Apple’s iPad is the final digital puzzle for their ultimate connected consumer strategy at http://www.nqlogic.com

Anonymous Coward says:

What if developers expanded the functionality? (Example: Citrix + iPad = ???)

Hmmm. I just looked in the App Store, and it appears there are already no less than five RDP clients available for iPhone; even Citrix has an iPhone port. Apple claims that iPhone apps will work natively on the iPad, but I imagine these companies may be working on updating their UI to better take advantage of the larger screen, and assuming Apple ports the VPN stack, it could have viable corporate application.

When the developer community gets a hold of the hardware, and expands on it like they did with the iPhone, I can see it holding some major promise and could sprout major wings.

I’m starting to see the pure genius of this device, and think many of the comments here and elsewhere are fairly one-sided.

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