What a bunch of whiners. What a bunch of armchair quarterbacks you are turning the iPad launch into your version of reality TV: sad, embarrassing, thoughtless and with an eye on a future only a week long.
The iPad was built for me. I asked for it. I asked for it years ago when I got sick and tired of trying to read Word documents in Documents to Go on my Kyocera PDA. Big screen, short battery life, no keyboard, but it was a phone with PalmOS on it and it worked just fine for that purpose. I just wanted more.
My first BlackBerry (that wasn’t a pager) was the 8830. Now my phone was smaller, had an annoying little ball that got dirty all the time and had to be replaced 4 times, but it had a QWERTY keyboard, and I could tether my ThinkPad to it. Nice. I got used to its quirks, but lamented my publisher having the ability to “bomb” my data if I wrote one more scathing review. Sadly, I spent more time earning a 6-figure BrickBreaker score than I did reading or doing anything with the device other than phone-type-stuff.
The Storm, the Droid, the Oqo and all the rest have qualities that separate, qualities that define their interpretation of the PDA realm, and qualities that can only truly be evaluated after 250,000,000 of them have been sold.
A few years ago, eBook readers started popping up. I sent back my Sony PRS after 1 hour of usage—it’s a dust-bunny in the industry it tries to placate. The Kindle? You can have it. I like e-Ink but the device itself is unforgiving and so constraint-limited that I cannot justify the expense for something that only reads Amazon’s content(1)…in black and white. Why spend $300 on something that only reads books and plays low-quality audio?
So I gave up and decided to do it myself.
Tablet computers are nothing new. It was trivial to find a Fujitsu Stylistic 4020. I picked up one with 2 docs (one for the car), a wonderful harsh-environment case, 2 extended batteries, screen protectors, 2 stylii and a copy of Windows XP, Tablet Edition, all for about $200.
“What more do I need,” I gleefully asked, “it’s got a 933MHz Pentium-3, a gig of RAM and a 30GB hard drive that I will promptly replace (and did) with a 4500RPM 120GB disk. That’ll do everything!”
Well, no, it didn’t, and here’s the formula for its failure:
So back in 2003, when I’d really, really had it with the whole issue of being able to WORK on my computer because I was always working ON my computer, I gave up and resigned myself to getting a laptop.
February, 2004, I acquired my first Apple: a 17” PowerBook G4. Other than playing with work computers, this was my first real experience with Apple. Not the iPod, because I couldn’t see the point. Not the IIc, because I was a UNIX guy dyed-in-the-wool. As part of my job, I was given a new PowerBook with this fancy OS I had previously loved as NeXTStep 3.1 and, ultimately, OpenStep 4.1.
I loved developing on my Cube, so it was an easy transition to the PowerBook and XCode. I loved everything about it, and quickly forgot it was an Apple because I was so busy noticing that everything else was not. “So, hey,” I thought while looking at my old plans for a car-PC to play MP3s on, “maybe I should check out the iPod.”
I have not looked back.
Here’s a refresher for the armchair quarterbacks that have enough time to blow to write a clueless diatribe about the most recent Uberproduct. With the understanding that I did not start out this biased, and with the understanding that I eschewed the iPod for 3 generations, and knowing I actually put FOSS to work for me trying to come up with Things To Make Me Happy, please read the following very carefully and see if you can come up with a reasonable response without calling me a racist, gay Nazi with AIDS.
The First News Flash: the iPod was not the first portable music player.
I know, tough to accept, but it’s true. Even your beloved Wikipedia will tell you so (for now). Long before the iPod, there were Sony Walkmans, Walkmans with tape players, even portable CD players that clipped to your belt. Portable music players had been around for YEARS before the iPod came out.
The Second News Flash: the iPod was not the first portable MP3 player.
It’s true. I don’t know what the first really was, maybe the MPMan, but the first commercially-accessible MP3 player I remember handling was the Diamond Rio. Twelve songs—man, oh man was it sweet. 128K sweet.
The Third News Flash: the iPod changed the industry that you prefer over the iPod.
Think about it. There would be no Zune. There would be no tiny MP3 players embedded in your sunglasses. There would be no technical innovation and all the rest: no Podcasting, no time-shifting, no Ogg Vorbis, no native MP3-editing, no eMusic, no Pandora, no Last.FM–and no satellite radio!(2)
The Final News Flash: All Your Gripes Are Belong To History
People complained right out of the box. 5GB was WAY too little, they said. It took 4 generations to get cross-fade playback (or gapless playback). People complained, complained and complained while the device sold in record numbers and defined an industry. In 2001, the tides changed. Technology changed. Attitudes changed. More and more, people got tired of waiting on ordinary appliances with a pat phrase, “Why can’t this just work like my iPod?”
It was simple to use, flawless in ergonomics, reasonably reliable, and it did its job. It played music. You took it with you. There was no bulk, there were no TDKs to load and break and drop-out. You didn’t need to hack anything, open the case or turn a single screw, it just worked. It couldn’t do your taxes, but it worked. It couldn’t do two things at once, but the one thing it did worked. It, at once, became the Given in peoples’ daily lives, allowing them the freedom to listen privately and focus energy on other tasks.
And some people discovered things on their own: you could boot a Mac from an iPod(3). You could use an iPod as a portable disk. You could Zero-Button-Sync using iTunes.
And that brings me to iTunes.
If Steve Jobs is the Father, and the iPod his Son, then iTunes is the Holy Spirit. iTunes changed content delivery. It changed content management. Thought most people don’t use it this way, it became a library for media files whose content identification could be altered in bulk(4). It didn’t care if you had a CD, or a WAV file, or some old MP3s, it treated them just like the DRM files in the Store, and it played them equally.
iTunes made the iPod a success. Where IBM made huge mistakes in the software and appearance of the iPod, iTunes made up for them with a library infrastructure and delivery mechanism that could grow while Apple reinvented their own iPod. Second Generation iPods had even better controls, easier-to-read screens, and still more functionality from iTunes. Podcasts became the norm. The iPod entered Household Word status. ClearChannel struggled with their own DRM to prevent radio personalities’ shows from being played on the iPod(5), ultimately losing to the overwhelming number of iPod customers who got radio shows from other parts of the world.
Meanwhile, the Cult of Linus cried and cried and bemoaned that Apple was fast becoming a monopoly. They compared Apple’s success to the reign of Microsoft—and its mentor IBM a few years earlier. They yelped and screamed that freedom was on tyrial, and Steve Jobs was judge. “Damn them all,” the fanboys screamed, “I would rather solder motherboards every night so I can play my Metallica from Napster than listen to an iPod for one lousy minute!”
Freedom, they demanded, was the freedom to do it yourself, make it yourself, tweak it yourself, steal it yourself, share it with others and profit at doing so. Preventing all that was uncompetitive. “Where are we going,” their passive-aggression demanded, “and why are we in this handbasket?”
But you know what’s funny? There’s no Walkman dock in my Audi. I have no Zune capability in my wife’s Explorer. Even the cheap Dual stereos you get from Crutchfield equal their Alpine counterparts by offering native iPod controls. A single 3.5mm stereo plug doesn’t cut it anymore—that was sooo 2003.
So a couple years ago comes the iPod Touch. People repeat the same arguments over and over: closed environment, proprietary format, apps have to be approved in order to be sold. Whine whine whine. They’re mad because they can’t run Linux on it like they can the PSP. They’re mad because the battery can’t be changed. They don’t like it, whaaa whaaa whaaa.
This week, Apple unveiled the worst-kept secret in their history: the iPad. The name is a logical continuation, the business model is identical to the tried-and-proven iPod model and the audience is me, because I asked for it, and I’m the only one that could not care any less about the things it’s missing.
The iPad (or Pi or iSlate or Slate or whatever you want to habitually call it) does what it is supposed to do. It is not a productivity tool, and “iWork functionality” is pretty much the extent of professional apps for the iPad.
It still uses AT&T, but some people out their in Armchair land are quietly forgetting that the iPad, unlike the iPod Touch, can be tethered. Some people didn’t notice the iPad is unlocked. There are those who believe the iPad fails because it continues the iPhone’s fundamental mistake.
What they forget to their convenience is that this is not a phone. It is not supposed to be a do-all device. I did not ask for a book-sized gadget that will interface with Exchange, or let me do CAD, or allow my workplace to extend into my private time. I asked for my idle time to be mine. My laptop only gets 4-6 hours of batter life. If I watch a movie on a flight, it bakes my lap before shutting down, and the layovers aren’t enough to recharge it. If I want to play games, I can either BrickBreaker my way to fame or use a 3.2GHz processor to violently assume command of a rouge squadron of ne’er-do-wells on a quest for glory. And then the laptop dies and I can’t even load my presentation upon landing.
Now, the thing is, I’ve heard many of the complaints about the iPad repeat themselves, so I think it’s only fair to examine the bigger issues and see what the problem is.
a)The App Store is proprietary, and getting an app installed means getting an app sold through iTunes means getting an app approved by a nebulous band of thugs inside Cupertino.
I do not see this as an issue. It’s easy to cry “foul” and say Apple is stifling the growth of the industry, but I have to ask; what industry? The Apps-through-iTunes industry? It’s their store! It’s their app! It’s their product line! You mean to tell me that if I come to your house I should be allowed to leave my dirty laundry in your kitchen because everyone has dirty laundry? That I should be allowed access to your wife because only wives who allow unfettered anonymous access are truly valuable? That your house should be a place where I can redefine the style that you defined when you bought the place? I should paint, plaster, build VW engines on your carpet, whatever I want, because I can do those things in other places? Because other places have such houses with open-source wives?
No. Pass. The filth in that house is the reason I stay away. I’d rather deal with a wife who’s a 7 with an IQ of 107 who devotes her life to my happiness and is dedicated and reliable without question than to have one kiss from the slut in your kitchen with all those other peoples’ dirty laundry. You can have it; you and Linus. Stay the hell away from my iPad.
Apple’s reliability comes from its position: allowing uncontrolled development creates a de facto attitude that, over time, corrupts the big, who then fall hard. In the Mac’s case, this is not really a place you want to plant that flag, because FOSS can be good, it can be clean, it can be revolutionary, and as long as the development is on limited hardware, with limited OS support and limited responsibility from the manufacturer(6), then the manufacturer can keep focusing on making new and better things. Microsoft? Hell, they’re still selling Windows 2000 Server, and will support it for a donkey’s year.
The reliability has to factor into this new iPad device doodad. In order to guarantee a modicum of reliability—especially as the platform begins its ascension—the apps need to be policed. The reality is, the public has heard from a dozen people equating this with fascism, or worse. They portend a 1984-like control over the apps, and refuse some based on content. “That’s not true,” some people cry, “My app was for locating the closest Taste-Freez truck to me. What’s wrong with that? Why was it rejected?”
Well, I’ll tell you: your app sucks. Your app used crappy 3rd-party code. Your app declined to participate with the terms you signed up for when you became a developer and got the SDK, and now Apple is letting you know by declining your app. Don’t believe me? Go check out www.apprejections.com and take a look at the list of apps and why they were rejected. See anything overtly fascist? No, it’s code violations, policy violations and use of private methods.
My feeling is, with 144,000 apps (and growing), if it’s not already there for the iPad, it will be soon. The iPod Touch didn’t have the benefit of that many apps when it rolled out, and if that’s still not enough for you, go write one. The SDK is free, the OS is nice, there’s an iPad emulator for the Mac, the IDE is well-proven…go do it. Don’t whine that you can’t run BlahBlah on the iPad—go write BlahBlah.
b)There’s no Flash.
Really? Have you looked at yours? You think a prototype car is a production model? You think a product introduction is a promise? Can you read? Can you think for yourself, or do you need some blogger’s comment-fodder to tell you when to get angry? Well, let me save your co-workers some angst.
Flash is big. But let us define “Big.” Does Big mean Important? Yes. Does Big mean Mandatory? No. Does Big mean Memory-Intensive? Yes. Does Big mean “disk space?” Yes. Does Big mean Only? No. Does Big mean every other program is useless?
Well, you tell us, FOSS-boy, because a minute ago you were pontificating from your La-Z-Boy that everything else is better than big bad Apple. You saying hypocrisy is OK in this instance? Shut up and go make me a sandwich, write an .flv player for the iPad and change your diaper. In that order.
Hard to deny this one: it’s unfortunate. But I don’t think it’ll last, I don’t see it being important to a true game-changer and it’s irrelevant on a flight anyway. Considering we’re already seeing VoIP apps for the iPad, I’m thinking people are about to discover the old iPods can boot a Mac. I just don’t care; I have a phone, and the iPad has Bluetooth.
Let me repeat: the iPad has Bluetooth. Who cares? What are you going to plug into the iPad? A printer? A keyboard? An external disk? Let me get this straight: you want the iPad to suffer the same hardware limitations your clunky Xbox has for the ability to do unsupported things on it that it was never intended to do? Pass.
If this is true, that would be the worst thing about the iPad. Right off the top of my head, I cannot imagine having an iTunes-like player on the iPad and not being able to listen to it while I do something else. I have to concede, this is a biggie. However, it remains to be seen if this is actually the case, or if things will change in the final release, or if it’s on the roadmap for a future software version. Remember: the iPod could not do gapless playback until fairly recently, and people got by without it just fine. It’s probably safe to say that Apple does not think the bulk of the iPad’s users need multitasking right out of the gate.
It does need to be addressed, I agree.
f)It’s not 16:9
If it were a dedicated movie player, that would be an issue. Some compromises have to be made, and, frankly, I’ve gotten used to the black bars on the TV at home so it’s not that big of a deal. It’s a compromise I’m willing to make because the iPad does more than watch video.
Really, yours doesn’t have GPS? There’s no Global Positioning system on the iPad? Wow, gee, golly, that would suck…if it were true. The iPad you own doesn’t do the mythical location & mapping stuff you might need to make up some time down the road? Sandwich, app, diaper. Go!
The iPad was designed to do many unique things for a wide range of people, not unique things for wide people. I can assure you the iPad will bring you no closer to a girl than what you have right now, and it never will. You should get out more, you look winded from that comment.
Thank all that is Holy. You think I want to see pictures of some fat sweaty punk crying that his “overgrown calculator” doesn’t have a camera? Please. If I want a camera, I’m damn sure not going to want one so big that I land helicopters with it trying to take a picture of the Great Outdoors. Cameras should be small, cost maybe a buck-fifty, and do 10MP or better. What would a 3-5MP camera do to the iPad other than delude you into thinking you can Cam with Veronica from the drug store where you get your Acai berry?
So here’s what you crying babies should do: you should ride the bleeding edge and you should wait not for the Apple iPad, but the MSI Android tablet. I will bet you Real Money my 2012 Ford Explorer won’t have an MSI connector, but it already has an iPod connector.
Knock yourself out. Be sure to blog all your tricks and tips for getting your apps to work with other apps on that bad boy; we love reading those rants. Start with a Torrent client; we desperately need one of those.
(1)I know, converters and so on, but you still have to upload it THROUGH Amazon. There is no direct-load feature.
(2)I know, DMX was the real precursor to XM, but the only reason DMX failed was that it was tied to your cable at home. Some people saw the iPod as a threat to programming, and the result was XM/Sirius.
(3)It’s even documented in the Operator’s Manual for the XServe
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About this product
The iPad is a tablet computing device product from Apple Inc. The device was announced on January 27, 2010, at a press conference at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The device was rumored for several months, with iSlate and iTablet among rumored names. The device is expected to incorporate a 10-inch (26 centimeter) multi-touch display made by Innolux, a subsidiary of Foxconn. The price is expected to be more than the iPhone but less than an Apple notebook computer.
The iPad's lowest grade model with a 16GB hard drive will run for $499 dollars with the 32 GB running for $599 and the 64GB running at $699. Buyers will also have the opportunity to purchase the iPad with 3G connectivity with the lowest grade model starting at $629 and going up. The Wi-Fi models will ship in late March while the 3G models will ship in April.
Yair Reiner claims the iSlate will compete in the market against dedicated e-book devices such as the Barnes & Noble nook and the Amazon Kindle while offering 70% of revenue to publishers, the same arrangement accorded developers of the App Store. These arrangements would also extend to print publishers who currently receive less in digital work royalties from companies like Amazon.com.