Quick take on the Apple iPad: It's a PC, sort of

I need some time to think about it, but after listening to the feed of the announcement and chatting with my friend Chris Dunphy, my quick reaction is that the iPad is more like a PC than I expected. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I had been thinking of the tablet as a new, third category of devices focused on content consumption. The content play is in there, but focused on print only rather than video and other forms of media, at least for the moment. But given its features and software, and especially the iWork suite, the iPad is actually more like a low end PC-displacement product: The PC reimagined as a portable, touchscreen device. Content delivery is a part of that rethinking. Nine years after Tablet PC, somebody got it right.

The iWork pricing of $9.99 per module is a knife aimed at Office, and a disturbing precedent for all traditional productivity app companies. If you're in one of those companies, you need to rethink your business model quickly.

I'm not saying the PC is dead (not at all), but it looks like Apple is trying to gradually move up from the smartphone space to chew chunks out of the PC market. So maybe the iPad really is a response to PC netbooks, which is what my Apple alumni friends said a year ago. In some ways the iPad is worse than a netbook, in some ways it's better. I will be very interested to see how it sells against netbooks this fall.

I'll have more to say after I've had some time to digest the announcement. In the meantime, your comments are welcome.

13 comments:

Stuart said...

I'm not sure why you say "focused on print only rather than video and other forms of media.". The iTunes Store has Hollywood movies and TV shows, and it sure looks like the iPad can both purchase and play them.

Anonymous said...

this seems to be one radically great device. i am particularly impressed with the announcement of unlimited 3G for $29/month and no contract. lets hope it is really unlimited and not capped. for the long term i think that price is still too high but the no contract aspect is huge. i wonder if the sim card would work in an ipohne. i along with several friends have iphone we do not use for voice(except VOIP.) mine is currently a wifi only but that $29/month with no contract is just about what would get me back on 3G for either an iPad or an iPhone.

Peter J. Cranstone said...

Come on Michael, you can do better than that. iWork is a knife at Office. Please. It's nowhere even close. No one is going to write a book on this thing. As for the rest of it, it's an over priced PC running a phone OS that can't multi-task. I've always respected your thoughtful blogs but you'r trying to be nice and it's clear you head isn't in to it. Would you really pay over a $1000 in the first year for a device that doesn't even have a real browser in it.

And as for the $30 month from AT&T. Throw in my iPhone bill and my 3G wireless card bill and it's price gouging on a huge scale.

I bet you don't buy one of these devices. You laptop does everything this does and more. Even the gamers won't spend $500 for a device like this.

John said...

Michael & Peter - This is a netbook competitor, not a laptop competitor. I can easily see someone buying it to sit on the couch and check facebook, email, youtube or news sites. My wife would love one.

The inclusion of iWork to me is a purely defensive move. Sure, no one will use a word processor on this thing. People don't use Microsoft Word on their Netbooks either ... but as Mike has noted on this blog in the past, people will not buy a netbook unless it can run office, because they are afraid they might want it one day.

The big problem I see with this device is the price. But Apple is always more expensive than other devices in the category. I expect they'll drop the price by $100 in a year, so I'll hold off getting one until then.

Patience - that's what you have to have when buying technology :).

Mike said...

I like the device, but the significant issue for those who regard it as a Netbook / low end PC is that it is still anchored to a PC/MAc.

Those who have an iphone already know this - it is designed to be attached to a particular PC/Mac. To upgrade a firmware version, to back it up, it assumes one is attached. You can't just have an ipad by itself.

MOst of the time it runs separately quite well, but it still needs a home with a PC/MAc. The Palm Pre is leading here with a cloud model.

BANUDK said...

Michael you were spot on in your earlier post when you were discussing that product may be launched to fill a price range gap in portfolio rather than need.I think this ipad does exactly that.

I am not sure what segment this product targets .the best i could think of is some one who wants to use it as info pad siting on a couch .

i would have loved it if they had made it full blown laptop replacement .problem is they are trying to attack netbook segment from price point perspective using upgraded iphone/itouch platform .

Mike Cane said...

Some of us saw iWork coming. Years ago.

iWork Is Apple’s Thermonuclear Bomb
iPad Post-Event Scorecard

Here's a vowel for you too:

Mac OS X To Get Major Facelift In 2010

Elia said...

Personally, I'm happy. I've wanted an all-in-one tablet like device for reading for years. If Apple's battery life is really 10 hours then this is perfect. I don't have to buy specially formatted books, I can use standard ePub and pdf formats, and it will be light enough to throw in a backpack for a day.

Now... if I could only get software for it that would replace my pad of paper, I'd be really happy.

Antoine said...

Here's something to consider: AT&T allows usage of the iPad on a data only, pre-paid account. What stops a person from going VoIP with this device? Why the limitation to a pre-paid, (nearly) unlimited data account for other devices? If its all data, what's the justification, and with this has AT&T just made themselves into the dumb-pipe that carriers have been scared to adopt? With this, does Apple get the next stone to fall in carrier dominance for wireless data?

Bergie said...

There will be no VoIP over cellular because all applications have to get through the App Store approval process to get on the device.

iPad is very interesting, it is Apple's attempt to rethink the PC in a beautiful, easy-to-use way, but to also at the same time impose a complete control on what happens on the platform.

App Store approval process ensures no software competing with Apple or its business partners gets on the device, and the Dock Connector ensures the same for peripherals.

Michael Mace said...

Great comments, folks. I should do this more often -- just cue up a subject and invite you to discuss it among yourselves. It's more interesting than a lot of my posts.

I've responded to your comments in my main post on the iPad announcement, here. I wanted to get the discussion thread into one place.

how to ollie said...

Excellent post and writing style. Bookmarked.

Magic memory stick said...

That will be great Michael if you really invite people for discussion as I have seen on your thread the comments are very much like debates and I always like to read them and sorry to say but sometimes I feel the comments are more interesting than your post.