< warning >I’m not an Apple Fanboy, but I play one in this post< /warning >
Hardly, but I do have a point to make so hang with me.
In Windows Vista in 2007, Microsoft had rebuilt several portions of it’s operating system, installed a new device driver model & API, updated the UI for a more modern feel, and polished many areas in need of attention. Of course, there were ineveitable issues, especially for poorly written, decade-old, legacy applications that many companies run their business. Also at issue at the time were a lack of device drivers for anything other than the most generic hardware & peripherals. Because of these issues , and a few others, the press and bloggers couldn’t help but tear the new OS to shreads and created a huge discussion that Microsoft never saw coming.
Of course being in IT myself, I couldn’t figure out the fuss – after all, I’d heard it 6 years earlier. The same criticisms were thrown about from the same sources about Windows XP in 2001. So what was the difference?
In 2001, the blogosphere was much smaller, not taken for serious journalism or news, and didn’t cause any more product or public relations for Microsoft than an Op-Ed piece in your hometown newspaper at the time. In 2007 that was totally different and was the driving factor of creating the impression that Microsoft release a completely inept piece of software that they expected people to pay a premium for. In short, Microsoft never got out front of the issue to listen and participate.
So here we are in 2010 and a large chunk of initial reviews and feedback for the new Apple iPad is fairly negative. “They under-delivered”, “Didn’t they market-test that name?”, “doesn’t look too sturdy”, “it’s an over-sized iPhone”, “where’s the camera?”, “doesn’t run OS/X”, “we expected more from Apple…”.
I highly doubt that Apple will have an issue with negative press in the long run and I fully expect the iPad to succeed where other efforts in this ‘tween area of mobile technology have failed. The key is to look not at the hardware, but what Jobs and Co. had set out to do.
This space between smartphone and laptop is rare territory. We tend to expect computing power approaching a real computer, but we want that half-pound sized, last-all-day battery, instant on, always connected device to cost us about $300 (less is better). We’ve experienced some of this in Netbooks, and while totally disagree with Jobs’ position on them, they deliver the content in a different way, and really fit for a different crowd (budget conscious & tech geeks).
The iPad is one device that was truly built for the specific market it’s targeted at. It’s a content consumption device, plain and simple. Having a slate/tablet style device that allows you to consume blogs, news, books, video, streaming content, music, podcasts, email, social networking, and also create content as well in a hand-held format that we’re all comfortable with is just too great. They even got the pricing in the right area, which is something Apple only get’s right for itself. 😛
Simply from my perspective, the iPad is the first Apple product that speaks to me, that answers a need that I have. I find that kind of surprising after all the wildly successful products they have, the one that peeks my interest is the one that isn’t quite as well received. That hasn’t happened since the Newton – and yes I owned one of those. It was way ahead of it’s time, but unlike 1995, the market is looking for this kind of product.
Photo credit: Joachim S. Müller