Thursday, April 1, 2010

IPad redux

The iPad is basically the Newspad from Kubrick's 2001.

I.e.: a portable flatscreen with the functions of a TV set, a laptop computer and a cell phone.

In Jobs' vision of the future, there aren't many keyboard-based laptops. In Jobs' tomorrow, people walk around with something that looks like the Newspad. He figured it's a safe bet. This thing didn't exist yet. But people wanted it anyway. He decided to be the one to sell it.

Basically, Steve Jobs is trying to fill a relatively empty niche in the gadgetry ecosystem. Yeah, others have tried -- and failed. He's getting his foot in the door. Chances are, it'll have a lot of bugs. Thanks to the halo factor surrounding Apple devices, they'll sell a ton of these things to early adapters in black turtlenecks who want to look cool, plough the $ into R&D and make the device more elegant and functional over various product cycles. It's what they do. My guess is, the strategy will probably work.

People want this thing. People like portability, but they hate keyboards.

Me too. The truth is, the keyboard is a pain in the ass, a design compromise as ungainly as a throbbing cold sore. Nobody likes the keyboard. A touch-screen keyboard may be a kludgy solution. On the other hand, the magic iPhone slide-your-finger-like-that-dude-in-Minority-Report interface will probably work for most of what users want to do on the iPad. For the rest, really good speech recognition is probably just a matter of time. Jobs' vision of the future is probably right.

But I'll wait a few product gens until I buy one.

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