Reaction to the Apple iPad: ten days later
It’s been ten glorious days since Steve Jobs announced the Apple iPad, enough time for us all to digest the idea behind what Apple promises to be a new type of computer. And I must admit that my own feelings about the device have changed in that time too.
I didn’t like the look of the iPad when I first saw it, and it didn’t help that Jobs made some easy-to-ridicule claims. How can you suggest that a slate PC, with only a software keyboard as standard, is the best type of product for email? Or that a platform that doesn’t support Flash is the best way to browse the internet?
I wasn’t alone in my cynicism. Commenters to the original Apple iPad tablet unveiled story on the PC Pro website – and I admit there will be a natural Windows PC bias here, as our history is of covering Windows software and hardware rather than Apple products – were scathing.
“Jeez! A giant iPhone touch!” wrote a sarcastic sandman652001. “Meh! Just meh!” intellectualised renhoek. “What exactly is this thing for?” asked pinero50. “It’s not a laptop, it’s not a phone. I’m lost.” Others, including TimoGunt and lokash20, were concerned about the lack of printing ability.
In many ways, atomz summed up the naysayers’ mood: “I really don’t see this as a game-changer. It’s more a niche product (dare I say ‘toy’) for Apple fanatics and those with a lot of spare cash in their pockets. A netbook and smartphone combo would still be my first choice for commutes.”
All those comments were made on the 27th and 28th of January, namely on the day and the day after the launch. Admittedly by the 29th, there wasn’t much point in leaving a negative comment as every criticism had been made, but it’s notable that the comments left after that point were positive.
gharrop wrote a reply entitled, “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy made real”, insisting “this product will create a whole new way to use computers in a home for non-technophiles”. hjlupton was swung by the sofa-surfing potential: “This iPad could be what I’m looking for – a device that’s ideal for putting feet up on the sofa with and just doing some light browsing, emailing and posting on my blog.”
And milliganp made the interesting point, which analysts around the world have echoed since, that “given the massive reduction in print and distribution costs provided by electronic publishing, any of the major [newspaper] titles could give an iPad away free as part of a three-year subscription deal. The issue is, does this device ‘work’ as an alternative to paper on the 8:15 to Victoria?”
I was hoping to say at this point that this softening of views has been echoed by our own poll, on the PC Pro homepage, where we simply asked “Do you want an iPad?”
The X-axis, I should explain, is the day: so the first day is the 28th of February, the 9th day is today. If you ignore the final day then there is a trend upwards for the “yes” camp, but it’s not strong enough for me to predict the success or failure of Apple’s device.
My own “softer” view largely revolves around content. If multiple publishers create killer apps for the iPad then this could – could – become a more enjoyable way to read articles than on the web. While print remains a brilliant way to enjoy longer articles, it’s expensive. We only sell a couple of thousand copies of PC Pro in America each month, for example.
If we could offer American readers the chance to enjoy something closer to a magazine format, along the lines of the much-hyped Sports Illustrated demo, then it opens up a whole new market. I’m already thinking along those lines, and I imagine lots of other editors and publishers are too.
But what do you think? I’d love to see some more comments “ten days later” – do you now feel more kindly towards the iPad, or have your negative views become more firmly entrenched? – and by all means cast your vote on the PC Pro poll if you haven’t already.