Breaking Down The Apple iPad

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In case you have been living under a rock the past few days, and the rock doesn’t have Wifi access or any trade publications being delivered with any regularity, Apple’s iPad has landed! But the online reception has been far less than stellar, in fact it has aired a little on the cold side. Naturally in cases like these, there are going to be your regular throngs of Apple-haters who automatically come out against any new additions to their product line, but in this case, it seems to be a little bit more than that.

Now admittedly the expectations that the iPad is already failing to live up to may be completely self-induced and spurred-on by social media murmurs. It may also be because Apple has this perceived public persona as an industry leader. No matter which way you look at it, the initial reaction shows that the public reception is off to a rocky start, and that is never the way you want to get things going. Even though the iPad launched at half the price it was initially rumored it would cost, which may have also played a part in the public’s inflated performance perception, many still feel it to be lacking.

Apple bills the iPad as bridging the gap between smart phones & laptops, and in the unveiling, Steve Jobs said that the iPad would have to be better in all of the following areas than both smart phones and laptops to be successful. Otherwise there’s no reason for it’s existence.

  • Browsing
  • E-mail
  • Photos
  • Video
  • Music
  • Games
  • eBooks

So according to Apple’s founder, if the iPad does not provide a superior experience in each of these categories then it is a superfluous addition to the Apple product line, and unnecessary to the community. And so far, it seems to not be fairing well. Now the iPad has certainly demonstrated some pretty impressive and exciting technological advancements, that will pave the way for the future, but does it really deliver on the promises of the ‘amazing’ and ‘magical’ beat all performance? Not so much.

So What is Missing

Well many of the masses have spoken, and so far, they have been saying some key things are missing from the iPad. Some features that a large segment of the tech-craving public were really expecting to be included once the first release hit the shelves were disappointingly absent from the iPad’s arsenal. Seeming to suffer from a lack of a fixed focus or direction for the tablet, it seems to come up short in several areas where users have been promised greatness. It pushes its way into many areas for sure, but it often lands shy of fulfilling what users have come to expect from such a peripheral, and also what Mr. Jobs told us it would live up to. Here is a bit of a rundown on the reactions en mass.

Where Have All the Flash Apps Gone?

The first major fail that stung not only the online public yearning for this new Apple release, but also stung Apple in their big unveiling presentation, was the lack of Flash inclusion. Apparently, Apple is not a fan of Flash, even though it makes up a high majority of all online gaming and video content presentation. Unreliable? Really? Hello, pot. Apple called, apparently having forgotten their recent reliability issues with the iMacs and Snow Leopard to inform you that you are black. Even if the argument is made that most online based Flash would be unnecessary on the iPad anyway, we say, then don’t bill it as a media center, since a majority of people turn online for their media these days.

The main problem this presents for Apple is how difficult it is to top all other browsing experiences without the use of Flash, given that so much of the web is Flash based. Like it or not, it plays a large role right now in our online lives. We understand why many people do not want flash on their Apple devices since it tends to be glitchy and somewhat of a resource hog. However, if you really want to offer the best browsing experience then perhaps the choice should ultimately rest with the user? It seems the better route would be to at least offer it and let the user decide whether they want to utilize it or not. So while it may provide a better browsing experience than the smart phones, it does not beat a laptop.

High-Tech Finger Painting!

As a drawing tablet, the iPad does not rank that high either, given that you cannot use a drawing utensil on the screen, only your fingers. No stylus and a lack of the standard software that digital artists have come to rely on, basically calls on digital artists seeking to use the iPad as a drawing tool to refamiliarize and relearn what they once knew. Apple made sure that the only software that is compatible with the iPad is proprietary, so the usual tools most designers turn to won’t be able to run on the iPad. So it certainly cannot stand alone as a drawing tablet, despite the drawing demo that was offered in the keynote presentation.

Got Widescreen?…Not if You’re an iPad.

When it comes to the video category, Apple and their media campaign really boasts on the interface of the video player, but it takes more than an interface to make the ultimate video playback user experience. For one, you have to a true widescreen video ratio not the 4:3 aspect ratio that the iPad contains. The images are clear, yes, but if your videos tend to be purchased in the 16:9 widescreen ratio then they will be adjusted to fit, not fully displayed. Again, how does this rank as optimal over other devices.

Also if you were expecting to watch any widescreen movies, then hopefully they are not Flash based, or you are going to be doubly disappointed. But there was not a lot of clarity on whether or not you would be able to play any videos other than those you have acquired through, any guesses…that’s right, iTunes. If it is possible to play other sourced material, there is little wonder why they have remained tight lipped over it, because they are really excitedly pushing the three Apple stores you can automatically access via the iPad to purchase your media from. Cool, maybe, but cool enough? Not likely.

Not Much of a Multi-Tasker!

Another complaint that has initially come to the forefront of the iPad con list, is the devices inability to effectively multi-task. In one of the stronger showings during the keynote presentation, the e-mail feature, which seemed promising, could have been impacted by the iPad’s inability to function on numerous levels at a time. With everything the e-mail app could perform, one that was not demonstrated by Jobs was the inclusion of an attachment. Given the drag and drop functionality that appears throughout the multiple app interfaces, it seems that the attachments would be easy to not only include, but to demonstrate.

Perhaps we are reading too much into this omission, but it seems like in order to be able to drop an attachment in to your e-mail, you might need to be working in multiple apps at once. However, that does not seem to be where this device steps up to the plate. This seems more like where the device twists its ankle on the way up to the plate and never quite makes it up there. Again, this is another area where the iPad does not deliver better performance over a laptop, even though this was not one of the benchmarks Jobs mentioned was a deal breaker. But for techies, this may just break a deal or two and turn some users away.

All Capable Readers Step Forward…Not So Fast iPad!

Jobs mentioned that the iPad’s ebook reader function was another area where it was superior to both laptops and iPhones, but most ebook readers are not using those for the majority of their reading. Not if they are in fact avid book junkies. Fans of ebooks and readers were eagerly anticipating Apple’s contribution to the market, but also have been left feeling slightly slighted by the iPad. You see they were expecting it to not only live up to other readers, but to perhaps surpass them. They were not expecting Apple to compare their apples to oranges to see which made better applesauce, and hype their product as superior.

Perhaps if the comparison was made with other peripherals in that line, then the promise of superior delivery would not have been able to be boasted about as readily. Again, the handy bookstore is neat and all, but it is not enough to outrank other e-readers by far. Going with the backlit option and not offering an e-ink based interface highlights this failure, effectively shining a backlit spotlight as the iPad falls short of fully delivering on this product use directive. For heavy readers, e-ink is the easier on the eyes option that the ebookworms tend to appreciate and prefer.

USB Input & Card Slots A No-Go

Many were expecting easy expansion or at least common connectability with the iPad, but once again, they didn’t get it. With no built in USB connections, and no slots for sim cards to plugin, the iPad does not really deliver on either of those standard extras consumers have come to expect from their comp-related gizmos. Especially one that bills itself as a media center. We tend to expect to be able to connect it with our media hubs (which for a lot of users, means their computer or external harddrives), but this was not a design priority it seems, when they released it into a market saturated with more accessible gagdets and gizmos.

The Proprietary Paradigm

By now, Apple is well known for their tendency to stick only to proprietary software and peripherals, and the iPad furthers this paradigm down to the letter. From the only browser option available being Safari, to the only apps, and perhaps even the media, available on the tablet are the ones from the Apple store. Given that Flash is not going to be playing a part of your iPad gaming experience, new games are in development specifically for the iPad, turning its gaming experience into an impressive one. But a proprietary one. Once again, this does not allow for comparison with other gaming experiences on the laptop and smart phones since they will not be available anywhere else.

And while again, some of the gaming looks intriguing, the motion controls seem oddly similar to the Wii, which as some of you may know if you have played on it requires quite a bit of getting used to, and this may prove to share that burden. Also, with a handful of peripherals and attachments available to complement or complete the experience (i.e. the tactile keyboard peripheral and more) the user ends up having to continue down this proprietary path that Apple loves to push so much to make the most of their new toy.

Long Story Short…

Perhaps they thought the Apple name alone would drive consumers their way, and who knows, it may still go that route. But overall, some of the online populous are feeling the disconnect left by this lack of follow through and forethought. Unless the worse option is true, and they simply wanted users to have to buy a few expensive side-kicks to what some are already dubbing ‘the iPhone you can’t carry in your pocket’, just to make a few extra dollars. When portability is already an issue, do you really want to exacerbate that with additional cargo for your user to have to carry around? Apparently, if you are Apple, you do.

Also, it seems like if you really are billing this as not for your average techie, but more for the common user, wouldn’t common connectivity have been a major focus? The more proprietary it becomes, the less common the user it appeals to. Your average user would want a peripheral that they had more control over, and more crossover capabilities with the other electronic peripherals, especially if they fall under the same ‘media center’ heading that the iPad is supposed to. Also, they would expect their new fancy ‘top of the line’ media center from Apple to at least be compatible with the flawed technology that powers over 70% of the media web users attempt to access. So it doesn’t exactly fit the bill as we have come to know its scope.

While there are some fantastic new tech developments that like we said, may open new future doors, the iPad does not meet Steve Jobs’ modest benchmarks to prove its existence is necessary. And though it may shine in a couple of areas like digital photo albums and the like, does that make it worth its price tag and place in the market? Not according to Apple’s owner, but again, only time will tell at this point. What are your thoughts?

More on the iPad

About the Author

Rob is an emerging author, celebrated podcaster and poet, and is an author and freelancer for Arbenting Freebies and Dead Wings Designs.

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  • http://cybergyaan.blogspot.com jeyaganesh

    review about ipad .. things it doesn’t have ..

    http://cybergyaan.blogspot.com/2010/01/apples-new-product-ipad-review.html

  • http://digitalartempire.com/ Benjamin Rama

    It seems that Jobs is doing what Gates did in terms of making it exclusive with proprietary things – eg HP had to use IE or they wouldnt get windows 95 – you have to use safari and you have to use an apple tablet – It’s a good idea though I still really love the design I’d buy one if it was up to par – perhaps when sony try and compete it’ll include all the things we like , the sony walkman has everything an ipod doesnt things like a radio etc although I did hear you can run win 7 on it which is good for us windows fans . cheers for the review Rob

  • http://www.ulrichdesign.ca Travis Ulrich

    Wow, that’s a pretty rough review.

    I agree that Apple’s agenda of having the iPad be a closed-OS with no ports seems to be big mistakes because it doesn’t allow people like you and me to customize it to how we want to use it. As I sit here on my iMac, viewing this website in Firefox with several plug-ins installed on it, typing in my Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout, controlling my operating system using QuickSilver, and viewing my Mail.app (in a 2nd monitor) more efficiently thanks to an add-on called “Letterbox”, I am exceedingly aware that I am the minority. Most people still get their Windows PC and never think to use any browser except whatever version of Internet Explorer is already installed. I think Apple is doing some pretty smart hand-holding with the iPad. And as its usefulness becomes more and more relevant to everyday life as well as areas of work, and people become more educated as to what they need the iPad to do for them, then Apple will be there to answer the call. But if it can do too much, too early, people tend to get intimidated and think it’s too above them.

    I too was disappointing when the iPad was not a laptop but more of a huge iPod Touch. It almost seemed lazy. But the more I think about how people will use it, I think Apple is on to something big. Really big!

  • Ryan

    This is a pretty poor review, especially considering this “review” is not really valid due to the fact that the Ipad isn’t even available at the moment.

    You’ve listed plenty of things that simply aren’t really valid. Complaining about the lack of an E-ink screen in a tablet designed for multimedia is just plain silly. You also make complaints about the multitasking and attaching documents yet you’re not even familiar with how the applications run, and the options available to them.

    As for the gaming side, the Iphone has plenty of unique and well thought-out games that take advantage of the specific hardware without requiring any gimmicky peripherals, so where you get the idea that this will be the case with the Ipad is also unclear.

    About the only thing I’m really disappointed with is the lack of flash. Other than that the Ipad seems to be a solid device. While it is far from being perfect, I believe it has potential to be and do many things that most people haven’t even thought about yet. I look forward to seeing what unique application the Ipad will have on the world thanks to developers who do not lack vision, creativity, and good solid design skills.

  • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

    @ Benjamin – I too think that this will open doors for others in the market, and lead to some exciting places as mentioned in the post.

    @ Travis – I think you may have a point about the gadgets doing too much and losing people, but it seems like so many were expecting so much more from Apple with this launch. They have broken new ground in some areas, but I think the feeling was that this would be more of a game changer, and less of a super-sized iPhone or iPod touch.

    @ Ryan – This review of the features is based on what every other post over the past week that has covered the same topic was based on. The long keynote presentation that was given by Apple, and the numerous informational releases about the features.

    And I brought up what Steve Jobs brought up in his presentation, so he made the points valid. He bragged for an hour and a half about how magical and amazing they were and this product would be. How revolutionary it would be in all these markets. Including handling ebooks, and so guess what…that makes it relevant.

    Also, the apps were demonstrated in the keynote presentation that I mentioned before. Watch it and you can see how they will work also. That does give a little insight. You can also follow the other links offered to find out more backing for the claims made in this post.

    And the gaming area was not where the peripherals come in. That was moving on to another encompassing thought, and I still stand by the statements made about their number of accessories that they are already pushing to complete the experience. So I got that peripheral idea from Apple. Sorry that was unclear.

    And again as I said in the post, I think that this might lead to interesting places, but given all that I have seen from Apple about this launch, I remain unimpressed.

  • http://Spacewater.us/ Eli Juicy Jones

    Not to be too critical, but you really made some false comparisons up there and show signs of missing some important situations in the market. One example that sticks out is comparing Flash stability to Apple needing to Patch up Snow Leopard.

    These two things are in different universes of problems. Adobe’s Flash is a dog that is poorly optimized and crashes like freaking crazy and you are totally wrong for downplaying what kind of mood that creates over at Apple, the company that put Adobe on the map in the first place. Adobe used to be made up of the best programmers in the world, dying to create a new market from nothing (postscript) and really do something different. Now they are a behemoth showing signs of faltering.

    To use the fact that most online games are in Flash right now really misses the point that Adobe is in trouble if they just sit all this out and rest on their laurels. The only reason for Flash’s dominance now is not casual gaming, it’s internet video. And Adobe is going to lose everything here. The reason is simple: HTML5 plays video without needing a flash plugin at all. Casual gaming may seem like a major market because it’s ubiquitous, but of course that’s mostly just bulk not actual

    Also, the subject of readibility and eye fatigue relating to E-Ink and LCD displays is always blown way out of proportion. It’s a great example of marketing working like a charm, because journalist after blogger after journalist report the exact same Mantra about eye fatigue in every single article without doing any real research to compare them to. Remember that the iPad is the first thing with a screen this big that people are going to look at this much, so we’ll see.

    Go get a Nook, and a Kindle and an iPad and read for 1/2 hour on each one and you’ll see that the iPad is the device you’ll be unable to put down.

    But in any case I think that the whole issue of the iPad not being dazzling enough for some of the pundits is amusing because Apple is not at all in the business of trying to please really technically savvy users as a primary market and never have been, even though this is usually a side effect after people start thinking about these as offerings of a business and not holy grails for satisfying our tech wet dreams, or some favor that Steve Jobs owes us for buying so many expensive copmputers over the last thirty years.

    The next iPad will have a camera on the front, tons of accessories are forthcoming, iPhone OS 4.0 is coming and that will bring at least some multitasking and boatload of other improvements. Apple is not here to show us one final product and walk away. They’re bringing us the future of personal computing devices one step at a time and you just watch this thing take off like a rocket ship in the next two years.

  • http://www.cheapleasedcars.com/ car leasing short term

    I’ve been a fan of Apple for sometime, they produce products that is visually beautiful while working like a charm. I can’t say that about alot of companies, it’s typically one or the other. Tech companies don’t usually take aesthetics seriously like Apple. With that said I’ve got to say that I’m very excited about the new iSlate. One thing I question though, is it too soon? I think that this product may be ahead of its time. What do you think?

  • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

    @ Eli – Actually my comparisons were spot on. I don’t have to understand anything about the market to understand that people in glass houses, should not be throwing stones, but alas there stands Jobs in his glass mansion slinging away. Bottom line, I don’t give two bits about Apple and Adobe’s rivalry, but when one company calls the other out for being unreliable following a string of reliability issues of their own (iMacs and Snow leopard, you left out the iMac in your assessment of issues which does factor higher than a software related unreliability problem so there) it is not exactly the best stance to take.

    And given that HTML5 is several years away, I don’t think Flash will be dead and gone tomorrow, so not including it and then hyping that the iPad out browses any other machine is beyond laughable, it’s ludicrous.

    Also, as someone who lives with an overly ambitious reader, who read over 50 books last year (in a slow reading year for her), and all on her Sony Reader, we are not overvaluing e-ink, you are undervaluing it. And to say that the iPad has a bigger screen? So what? It doesn’t matter the size of the screen for eye fatigue, it is based on the lighting of the screen. And how can you say

    “Remember that the iPad is the first thing with a screen this big that people are going to look at this much, so we’ll see”

    Umm, hello, monitors? ever heard of them? Been around for a while now, using backlighting and people stare at them all freaking day. So we know a little about eye fatigue. And no, I won’t be trading in an iPad for my Reader, so again, your words hold little to no weight there. I actually used personal experience for my assessment, rather than the hopeful exuberance of a fanboy.

    And you cannot say that Apple is bringing us the future, when other competing products are already out, doing all that the iPad won’t do, and then some. Others even have the multi-touch screens so, the only new tech I’ve seen Apple come forward with out of this, that no one else has, was the processor for it all. Perhaps this processor will not overheat like other small Mac peripherals (i.e. laptops).

    And your quote here, “Adobe used to be made up of the best programmers in the world, dying to create a new market from nothing (postscript) and really do something different. Now they are a behemoth showing signs of faltering.”

    Really resonates with me, but that’s because I have felt the same about Apple in the past year or so. I think the reason people are feeling so slighted by this launch, is because they look at Apple to be a leader, and given the other competing markets and makers already having products that do deliver on these areas, seeing Apple come up short, was just unexpected by most.

    Thanks again for the comments.

  • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

    Car leasing person – “Tech companies don’t usually take aesthetics seriously like Apple”

    This statement would hold more water, if Apple actually came up with a unique design for the iPad. But it is just an oversized iPhone as far as look, so I don’t really see any new ground being visually broken with this launch.

  • http://graphicdesignblender.com Preston D Lee

    This is a great summary of a lot of great points about the iPad. I can’t say I hated the device but I’ll admit, it wasn’t as amazing as all the hype that led up to it. The most disappointing thing for me, like you addressed here, was the no-multitasking and the lack of connectivity (USB, display, slots, etc)

    Also, you and your readers might be interested in an article I’ve written that addresses the affect of the iPad on the design community it’s titled:

    “Will the iPad change the way you design?” and the link is found here:

    http://graphicdesignblender.com/will-the-apple-ipad-change-how-you-design

    Thanks for sharing and for a great breakdown of the iPad!

  • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

    Thanks Preston. I appreciate the link to your article. I just checked it out, and you raise some good points that I had not thought about, impact-wise. I agree, the iPad has had a disappointing follow-up to all the hype.

  • http://www.theBookDesigner.com Joel Friedlander

    Rob,

    Great rundown on the iPad. Hey, I use lots of Apple products, my house is full of them. I think the jury’s still out on the iPad, which makes sense since not many people have them and the distribution arrangements and new types of media it might produce really haven’t happened yet.

    My sore point was the e-book reader, and I know a lot of typographers are hoping Apple can do better with fonts and font-handling, and not just rely on a sexy turning page animation.

    I also wrote about this issue specifically here:

    http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/01/apple-ipad-e-book-reading-kindle-killing-business-saving-product-of-the-century/

    Thanks.

    • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

      Thanks Joel. I appreciate you leaving the link so I can further check out your thoughts on this.

  • http://autonomywebdesign.com/ Autonomy

    I’m with you Rob. I am also an Apple user and I have not yet seen anything that has made me excited about the iPad. The concept has a lot of potential but for the time being I am just going to stick with my MacBook and iPod.

    • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

      I appreciate that. I too was expecting something.

  • http://www.sjlwebdesign.co.uk SJL Web Design

    Apple stance on Flash does confuse me, they claim to not support it as they would prefer to stick with ‘standards’ and are trying to push developers towards HTML5 and stick with Javascript and CSS instead of turning to Flash.

  • Theunis Groenewald

    I’m inclined to agree with some of the comments here, in stating that your review may be a little harsh. And as geeks, we’re probably a little bit biased, too.

    Firstly, Apple’s decision not to include Flash is relatively simple – it’s about money. The iPad is cheap (relatively speaking), but think about how many Apps you’ll be carrying around with you – and that’s where Apple’s real money is. My iPhone has over 70 Apps installed, more than half of which I paid for. I’ve started using iTunes more regularly (as opposed to the very cheap, and barely-legal Russian music sites) to buy music and (I’m still unsure why I started in the first place) music videos. If I didn’t live in New Zealand, I’d probably be getting TV shows too, just for the hell of it. It’s simple and fun: you press a button, and in a minute you’re listening to a brand new song. And I imagine that it’s likely to be the same (or better, hopefully) on an iPad.

    If Apple allowed Flash on either their iPhones or the new iPad, US users would simply head to Hulu.com to watch TV shows instead of buying them from iTunes. We’d be playing games in Safari, instead of forking out $5 for some insipid game you’re likely to forget about after a week. With the iTunes Store reaching almost 10 billion downloads, we’re going to be holding our breath for Flash on Apple mobile devices a good while yet.

    Another thing to consider is that Flash CS5 will be able to create iPhone or iPad Apps, which means that my mom will likely be playing an App version of Farmville soon enough.

    Which brings up another point – my mom. I gave her my old iPhone 3G, when I upgraded last year. Her phone got stolen in December, and she was miserable. For her birthday in January, I got her a new one. She wouldn’t have anything else, even though we have a drawer full of old mobiles. And now she’s dying to get an iPad. And how many of the tens of millions iPhone users won’t be the same? It’ll work the same, so there’s nothing new to learn. Using it is simple – you can do it all with your fingertips. And it’s familiar – there’s nothing new to learn. We tend to forget who the target market is. It ain’t us. The hundreds of thousands who’ll be lining up to buy one (me included) won’t be disappointed. And unless we’re one of the few who got to hold one, we shouldn’t be so quick to pass judgment on the iPad (except on the name).

    I’m getting one. And I wasn’t planning to. I didn’t want one. Until I saw what the publishers Time Inc, Conde Nast and even the New York Times are planning to do. This device (and this at least, I can say with certainty) will revolutionize magazines and print publications. Which is bloody amazing. And exciting as hell. I’ve always wanted to start up my own magazine. And now, as an interactive designer, I may well be able to. A single device might be able bring print media back from the dead.

    We tend to overlook all of the possibilities the iPad is opening up, and instead of writing bad reviews about what the product is lacking we should be looking at what will be possible with it, and planning how we’ll make the most of it. It’s only a few months away, and in that time some amazing new online initiatives can come to fruition. This is the time when creatives and designers should be hard at work to prepare for what’s likely to be another success for Apple, regardless of what the geeks think.

    • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

      Sorry Theunis, but your comment only furthers my indignation. First off, yes, it is about money. They’ve made so much on the iPhone/iPod touch apps that they greedily want to use the exact same model to do it all over again. Even though the iPad already offers Apple a cool 40% product mark-up.

      Also, you can’t exclude Flash over greed then push your device as the best web browsing experience available. Not yet. Maybe when over 70% of the web isn’t Flash based you can try to make those claims, but making them now shows a disconnect between Apple and users. The same users you are talking about like your mom. And given that these users tend to be in the same boat as the folks that couldn’t tell the difference between Read Write Web’s post about Facebook’s new login, and Facebook’s actual login page, then this is only going to further their confusion when suddenly so much of the web they are used to is no longer available to them. Guess I don’t get easily excited when one of the leaders in technology starts dumbing things down to play to that crowd.

      Also, as for them being a leader, that’s what people in the know were expecting, innovation. But as you pointed out with your comparison to the iPhone, there is nothing new here except the prospect of new apps. Which existed before, just now they are on a bigger screen. Woohoo, stop the presses! Another billion apps flood the market! You and your mom have fun lugging around your new app palace, I’ll pass. Thanks.

    • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

      PS – How exactly is a digital device supposed to revitalize print design? It will simply turn the market from an actual print based market to a digital one, and we will more than likely see a shift that further acts to assassinate this medium. If the companies release a digital copy and they make more money through that market, why would they continue to sink those profits into a printed version of the material? It doesn’t fiscally add up. It’s not like everyone who pays for a digital copy is going to then run out and pay for a hardcopy. So for every ten they sell through the iPad, they may sell one print copy. The more available the digital copy is to the masses, the more likely it is that the distance in that ratio will grow. So where will be the publisher’s incentive to continue to print, instead of opting for a completely digital version of their publication?

      So I fail to see a life preserver being thrown out to the print market, as much as I see it as a lead weight to further facilitate their sinking.

    • Theunis Groenewald

      I never said that I agree with Apple’s decision not to include Flash in their mobile products – merely that I understood their decision. The general consensus on the web is that Apple’s rivalry with Adobe is the only reason users aren’t using Flash on their iPhones, which is grossly misinformed. But then again, that may be Apple’s deliberate attempt to hide the fact that their decisions are based on their own monetary gain, instead of looking out for the end user.

      The same end user who might not know the difference between an article about the Facebook log in page, and the real thing. Those kinds of users typically won’t know the difference between a Flash site and its HTML counterpart and I don’t expect that they care too much, either. They just want it to work, although most iPhone users seem to understand that it still is just a mobile device and not intended to replace an online desktop experience. I can understand their confusion when a site they know is suddenly unavailable on their iPhones, but isn’t it still the responsibility of every good designer and developer to ensure that their sites are available on a range of different platforms? We’ve been building sites to display correctly on just about every browser and OS – facilitating users without Flash or additional plugins, degrading gracefully when those browsers don’t have JavaScript enabled, or aiding those users with physical disabilities – for decades now. Why should we abandon those same principles when it comes to hand held and mobile devices? The truth is that we won’t. Ultimately, we’ll still ensure that the sites we design and build and put up for the world to see work as they should on every platform and device possible, regardless of what Apple does.

      I don’t live in the US, which means that I don’t have freely available WiFi access (apart from at home or at the office) or even a reliable 3G connection most of the time. And we don’t have access to Hulu’s streaming video content. Which means that for most countries outside of the US, YouTube will still be the primary source of streaming video for iPhone users – an App built into the iPhone OS. South Africa doesn’t have access to the iTunes Store (they can use the App Store, however), due to copyright laws and restrictions. And while I lived there, 3G access was simply too expensive to use beyond absolute necessity. Vodafone New Zealand isn’t capable of supporting Visual Voicemail for the iPhone. My point is that Apple has built a single device for a global market, and that many of their decisions are based on that fact. They won’t spend an unholy amount of money trying to get the Flash Player to work on their product, because half the world won’t be needing it. We can continue to argue both sides here, but I suspect that Apple has already won the argument.

      I wholeheartedly agree with your views on print publications. It isn’t so much the format – whether it’s digital or print – that I was talking about. It’s the experience: opening up an actual magazine on a tablet – not a web site that’s really nothing more than a glorified blog – is what’s excites me about the iPad. Being able to read The New Yorker, Men’s Health (the South African edition), British Gentleman’s Quarterly, National Geographic, Time, British Gardens and Homes and the rest of a really long list exactly as they would’ve been laid out in print is what will revolutionize a dying industry. Imagine being able to directly interact with that same content (either in the App or online) on the same device. I don’t care about the print edition that’s become too expensive, and too much of a waste environmentally. I want to able to read the NY Times and The Guardian as a newspaper, not a web site. And I want the interactive magazine experience that Terry McDonell has shown us a glimpse of – that’s the future of the magazine industry. I’ve also been reading some exciting new possibilities opening up for direct marketing, so for all its apparent failures the iPad is already set to become a groundbreaking device …

    • http://deadwingsdesigns.com Rob Bowen

      You didn’t have to say that you agreed with their choice, by saying that you are definitely buying one, you are supporting their choice and condoning them to continue behaving in this manner. Mac has the potential to make all of those communication advancements without going the routes that they have.

      And as for the responsibility of the designers to cover Apples’ backside, not saying that we won’t eventually go that route, but being forced there is never the way to win us over. Look at how much grief IE6 gets for still having to be considered and amended for when designing and coding. Apple is trying to force it’s proprietary hand into our pockets and given the other competing products already on the market, why play the game by their rules?

      And though I understand your points, I still stand by my statement ‘While there are some fantastic new tech developments that like we said, may open new future doors, the iPad does not meet Steve Jobs’ modest benchmarks to prove its existence is necessary.’ It just seems that they should have either made sure it lived up to their own benchmarks, or sold it to the public much differently.

      And as for print media, the format defines the industry, so you are not talking about it saving print design, you are talking about it moving the style and format to a digital one and eradicating the medium as I said. Stylistically, I guess it’s a novel concept to hold that in my hand in a tablet, but recycle the paper and I personally would much rather have the original physical hardcopy. But that’s just me.

    • Theunis Groenewald

      By the same standard, we condone the actions and behavior of too many corporate giants who cause way more damage to the planet and its inhabitants, but I do agree that Apple’s attitude does leave much to be desired. They definitely aren’t the same awe-inspiring company I bought my first iPod from when I was still a teenager, and that is tragic. But my verdict on the iPad is irrelevant here – firstly because I’ve yet to use one myself and judge its merits and failures with the proper perspective; and whatever our personal feelings about the product may be, it isn’t likely to change Apple’s mind. Nor will it stop consumers descending on Apple retailers en masse when the iPad launches.

      I don’t mean that we as designers and developers were to be left at the mercy of Apple, or any other single corporation for that matter. The iPad isn’t the product or the platform that will forever change how we plan, design, develop or maintain our sites and we shouldn’t stop the same sound practices we’ve been following since way before the iPad’s inception (or long after it’s become obsolete). If we build our online experiences to work on any platform with any browser and any reasonable amount of limitations (like the absence of Flash), the end user will ultimately benefit – and as designers and developers that should be our single attainable goal: to build great online experiences that even work seamlessly on something as unfortunately named as the iPad.

      I also feel the same way about the iPad. Despite Steve Jobs’ admirable (yet slightly delusional) goal that the iPad should become an essential product to our daily lives, the truth is that it is now, and is likely to solely remain a premium gadget for those fortunate enough to afford one. But Jobs is nothing if not a great salesman …

      To be honest, I’m in two minds about print publications and the tablet’s role in their future – which is partially due to what you said about eradicating the medium altogether (and given that English is my second language, I didn’t really say what I meant as well I should have done). There’s nothing better than reading a magazine cover to cover, and spending hours analyzing and gawking over brilliant advertising creative. But the idea of an interactive magazine, with the potential for even greater advertising opportunities is too exciting not to consider.

      Thank you for your replies; they’ve given me something more to think about (especially from a consumer’s point of view, as I’m prone to look at things as a designer). Now I guess all that’s left to do is wait and see what happens …

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