Friday, January 29, 2010

Thoughts on the iPad and more.

With the release of the iPad just recently, Apple CEO Steve Jobs slammed netbooks during his keynote address claiming that netbooks aren't better than anything. He went on to say that they were slow, had low quality displays, and they run clunky old PC software.

I agree with Steve. These days, netbooks come with the most useless version of Windows 7 possible and a bunch of other junk that goes with that. (Ubuntu here is your chance to dominate!) The low res displays are only just starting to get better, but one of the reasons it has taken this long is mostly because Intel is either too lazy or inept to make a decent graphics chip to drive them. Compared to laptops, netbooks are slow but compared to the iPad, I doubt it. We will never find out of course because of the iPads totally different approach to the question, “Is there room for a 3rd category device in the middle?” Apple's idea isn't to take Mac OS X on a Macbook and scale it down to create the theoretical iNetbook, but rather to take the iPod Touch/iPhone and scale it up to make the iPad.

Apple made a wise decision by not introducing the iNetbook. It makes perfect sense for their business model. If they had introduced the iNetbook, it would have been disasterous and they could say goodbye to their Macbook sales. They have been fighting for years to keep the Macbook and Macbook Pro product lines separated enough to keep sales balanced. Each type of Macbook and Macbook Pro had different enough features to make the purchasing experience tough.

Eventually they gave up with keeping up many different products and have since simplified the lineup. The only decision when buying a Macbook Pro you must make is, “What size screen do I want, 13, 15, or 17?” Sure you get slightly better performance as you increase in size, but that is expected as the computer needs more power to drive the bigger displays. Compared to choosing laptops from other brands such as HP, Dell, and Acer, the choice is beyond simple. If you want a cheap mac laptop, you get the white Macbook. Need ultra thin? You can have the Macbook Air.

The iPad is a good step up from the iPod touch but not better than a Macbook. Prices range from $499 to $829 depending on how much storage you want and if you want 3G connectivity. It's priced low enough to attract sales but high enough to keep it serious. Steve claims that the iPad is good for browsing, email, photos, video, music, games, and ebooks. However I think its good at something else. It's good at being the ultimate trap device.

The people who buy this will probably choose the cheaper models thinking they are getting a deal, but I will point out that it is completely useless without video, music, apps, and ebooks. Surprise! Apple has an answer to all that by including easy access to their Music store, Video store, App store and new iBooks store. This isn't really a device you need, but rather a utensil (such as a spoon) for Apple and the content providers to use on you to make money. So even if the iPad itself isn't a smashing success, it just needs an average but loyal fan base and it looks like they will make money just fine.

Final Thoughts

I feel that if this had come out a year ago, just as netbooks were beginning to become mainstream, it would have completely overlooked the netbook craze and we would be talking about how netbooks faded away rather quickly. Now that the netbook is established and desirable to the masses, the iPad is a tough sell. For now, I will be sticking to netbooks. The closest thing there is to the iPad is the Archos 5 Internet Tablet. Although more of a portable media player than a tablet, The Archos 5 Internet Tablet runs Google's Android OS and looks like a fun device to use.

External links (just in case you missed them)