Guest post by: Jeff van Geete
This week, Apple announced the release of its newest product, the “iPad.” You may have heard.
As with any large purchase – because, let’s be honest, even $500, the price of the cheapest iPad model, is still quite a chunk of change – your average consumer has to ask the question of why he or she wants this product. What few critics are realizing is the decision is even harder for the Apple user who has almost all of the trimmings of the iPad on one of Apple’s now myriad other devices. Why do I – or anyone – want this product?
I have a MacBook Pro, an iPhone (but I use a Droid since I released the AT&T demon from my life), and an iPod Shuffle. The MacBook goes with me to college, plugs into my flat screen, and accomplishes all my photo-editing needs. The iPhone stays hooked up to my stereo, waiting for the day Verizon decides to break the tenuous orange and blue fingers that choke its real potential (fastest isn’t fastest if there isn’t any signal, now is it?) The Shuffle comes with me when I run…if I run. With all this already at my finger tips, what else could I need? A faster processor than the iPhone? A screen smaller than the MacBook? Something not as portable as the Shuffle? Ebooks? But…I read paper books. (Insert Steve Jobs’ silence here.)
What’s worse is addressing the number of seemingly valid criticisms that are already on the techno-sphere regarding its shortcomings for people who don’t use Apple already. Why doesn’t it have a camera? Or removable media? Or multitasking? Not only do I not really need an iPad, but (shh, don’t tell anyone) it might not be all that great.
The operative word being might. The iPod might’ve stunk, too, but it didn’t. What the iPad is is a forward-facing product. It doesn’t do certain things because those things will be, if they aren’t already, of little consequence to the people that do want to buy it.
I am literally shocked people want removable media on all their items, regardless of their ability to hook up to any network wirelessly, or any device via bluetooth – even printers nowadays. Any number of alternatives are ever present, and certainly better than fumbling with microSD cards that you can’t even label because they’re so small (the Droid has one, sigh). The biggest topic not discussed is why-oh-why no one is paying attention to “the cloud,” and how, really, there are no more storage problems anywhere. (Gmail has over 4,000 of my e-mails with YouTube, picture, and document attachments, and Google Documents will let me read them all. That’s just one example, and it’s not even technically the Cloud.)
Another shock comes when people gripe about the lack of a USB port on the iPad. USB? Really? When people are out and walking around with their iPhone or iPod touch are they whipping out USB cables and hard drives, lamenting the fact of “oh why can’t I connect these two items?!” They’re not. And if they are, I haven’t seen them. Not only does 3G and WAN transfer data faster now that a hard-line USB, but it is everywhere.
Wired hardware will be dead in 5 years. I personally guarantee it.
The third, and perhaps most difficult issue to address is the lack of a camera. I suggested recently to a friend that perhaps the only reason to have a “face-facing camera” is to do video chat and conferencing like some Nokia phones (which no one ever purchased). I also said in that suggestion that maybe AT&T’s network, already strained under the demands of the iPhone, will not possibly be able to handle this capability. I think that is a fair assessment, but I also know that forgoing capability is a fair marketing tactic used by any number of companies to create demand – blu-ray aficionados that were so excited about the Lord of the Rings Trilogy being released, only to find out it was the theatrical version and not the director’s cut know exactly what I’m talking about. The next model of iPad will perhaps not be restricted to AT&T, and when it comes with a camera, even the die-hards like me will buy one as will all the people holding out for their cameras — as if two or three other mobile devices they have on them at any given time don’t already have one.
No, the real reason we all want one (even the naysayers will give in on the second and third generations, or upon the first firmware upgrade) is because it is an item that you will know, at some point over the next ten years, you should’ve purchased. When companies like Mozy allow you to store unlimited amounts of data, readily accessible at any time, drag-and-drop style, and college textbooks come out at a quarter of the price as eBooks, and EA creates a fantastic title exclusively for the iPad, people will realize that, hey…maybe I should’ve listened to a few less critics and trusted my gut that this is, after all, an amazing product full of innovation and the promise of being able to handle tasks we don’t even know we’ll need to accomplish. The iPad will be there, ready to accomplish those tasks, despite the items that are “missing” from its arsenal. The confidence I am expressing comes from a trust Apple has built in their brand name over the last 30 – and especially the last 10 – years with a #1 rated customer service experience and release after release of outstanding products.
Like my iPod, and like my MacBook, and just like my iPhone.
That is why I want an iPad.