So its the iPad, a large iPod Touch and the blogosphere has spoken, it’s a fail.
Well that’s not quite the end of the story as I see it, the key point to understand in the importance of Apple’s new device is to recognise that computers and the web are no longer the preserve of the geeks that write blogs.
All the apparent failings of the iPad, the lack of USB, no multi-tasking, no HDMI and lack of Adobe’s Flash are actually all the reasons why it will be successful.
The choice to remove these features are a result of the laser focus of the design team to make this a simple device, not a computer as we recognise it today, but something that allows “normal people” access to information quickly and simply. Remember the similar criticism from the smart-phone experts when the original iPhone was introduced.
Just think of the contrast in terms of installing a simple application in Windows, compared to an application on the iPhone. The idea of the computing appliance is a common goal with the ChromeOS, both the iPad and future ChromeOS devices aim to make the underlying operating system as simple and robust as possible, and allow users to get to a task hassle free.
For me I can see the iPad finding a home in my household as a “sofa computer” something to have in the living room, easy to pick up and use quickly to browse the web, read a book chapter or send an email.
You can also seen the potential of vertical applications particularly in education, imagine the interactive textbooks that can be created for such a device.
A longer shot perhaps could be GIS data capture applications making use of the 3G/GPS version of the iPad, ESRI are rumoured to be working on an iPhone app..
Such a class of device, a real “computer for the rest of us” has been a long time coming, Alan Kay a true giant in the history of computing, in 1968 introduced the dynabook concept, which was hugely influential for many including Steve Jobs. The work of Alan Kay was also a influence to one Douglas Adams, who also saw the potential of a book like computer..
Maybe the iPad will be the most important product Apple has produced so far, if it can become the internet appliance, that really brings computing to the mainstream, then again maybe it will not and some other device will become this long anticipated device.
I can’t wait to get one, I just wonder who is going to be first design a cover with “Don’t Panic” written on it !
Written and submitted from my home (51.425N, 0.331W)