iPad : The Dynabook finally arrives?

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)

8 replies on “iPad : The Dynabook finally arrives?”

ESRI released the news about their iPhone app last July – due for release end Q2 along with ArcGIS 10.0. We’re quite excited about the iPad for fieldwork…the 3G version has potential. We currently use Trimble Junos running ArcPad but the screen on the iPad could open up lots of possibilities if apps begin to appear with decent data capture functionality.

I also think that the bloggers have it slightly wrong, but so have Apple in this case. It seems that Apple are gambling that the consumer will be happy to make the same kind of compromises in a larger device that they are prepared to make with a smart phone. I’m not convinced, given the kind of rubbish functionality in smart phones we had before the iPhone. In a larger device we expect more.

I love the things that the iPad will do, and do very well: web surfing, iTunes, YouTube, e-books & newspapers, easy App installation etc. But the omissions are pretty glaring and not just the domain of the geek: sorry but I’m not prepared to live without multi-tasking (I want to be able to do something else whilst chatting with a friend on Skype), I want that USB port so I can connect an external hard drive that holds all my movies without faffing around, I want that internal webcam so that I can make video calls. I do want an iPad but I won’t be an early adopter. I’m waiting until Apple wake up and realise that people want and need these things. Or maybe I’ll just wait until someone comes up with something similarly sexy in an Android or ChromeOS flavour but with the features I want in it…

buy a plane ticket online with this. cant print it. no printing. thats for an upgrade.
want to take a quick picture of your cute little pup on the sofa? apple didnt include a 10 cent camera. thats for an upgrade.
no usb of any flavor so you have to buy an adapter even for usb! maybe for an upgrade.
hey google maps app looks really cool on this. no gps. probably drains that battery you say. i say no way, its for an upgrade.
micro-sim? oh because it doesnt have 3g? weird. upgrade b…h

I dont know about you but i have something called principals and this bs from apple sticks. f’em i will never buy this.

but do please buy one. it’s the only thing the US is making money on anymore.

fwiw i own a macbook.

I’ve fallen for it 🙂 The form and interface look really compelling and it’s going to be great for browsing maps.

If it is truly a pleasure to interact with it will be a success (regardless of blogger’s gripes). We just need to try it and see where it goes…

I’m afraid I come down on the side of the bloggers – who’d want a device like this that doesn’t multitask. A “device for the rest of us” well that rest of us includes, frankly, my mother – who doesn’t understand the computer but just wants to browse the web or look at photos while playing her music or talking on Skype. iPad won’t do that and her laptop does. So I can’t see it appealing to the “rest of us”, sorry.

There’s also the niggle that the “laser focus” isn’t that of the design team at all but the marketing team who control what you can do on Apple’s devices, take over your life and squeeze even MORE money out of you. ONLY apps from the app store? ONLY an iPod connector? Apple: “We control your every thought”.

Something reminds me of Demolition Man: “Now EVERY restaurant is Taco Bell!”

In case you’re still curious, Ed. I finally found someone who made an iPad case with “Don’t Panic” written in large, friendly letters on the cover. Found it here: About time, if you ask me.

Nice to see so many hitchhiker’s guide fans out and about.

Wow. I just stumbled across the post. Every company in the world would love to have a fail like this. Say what you will about the shortcomings of the iPad it’s been an overwhelming success.

Lost a lot of cred with this! 🙂

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