The iPad's downfall: Cloud, mobile Web should replace apps and a sync cord

The iPad's downfall: Cloud, mobile Web should replace apps and a sync cord

Summary: The iPad just seems to be missing something. Could it be the iPhone style apps on a device that should be tapping the cloud for a richer experience?

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TOPICS: iPad, Mobility
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Special Report: Apple iPad The excitement around mobile apps has become even greater, sparked by the release of the iPad and some 2,300 apps written for it. In fact, there's been so much excitement around iPad apps that on Saturday, the day the iPad was released, more than 1 million iPad apps were downloaded.

I hate to be the one to burst the app bubble but does anyone else think this is sort of a backward movement, this whole idea of proprietary apps on a proprietary device? I know that everyone and their brother is trying to build an app store these days. And I also recognize that, in some instances, a mobile app makes sense, just as there are still some software products that make sense for a computer. But some companies out there have whole teams of people working on an app for the iPad. How can that be an efficient use of resources?

Also: Apps: What prices will iPad users accept?

Apple said Monday that it sold more than 300,000 iPads over the weekend, right around where Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster originally projected until raising his estimates on Saturday afternoon. That's on track for what we saw when the iPhone - which eventually became a game-changer - originally launched, too. Of course, more people will buy an iPad in the coming weeks and months. But I've also already heard from a couple of people - techies, mind you - and read blog posts by those who pre-ordered one of those 64-gig 3G units (at $829) and now are suddenly getting buyer's remorse.

In these specific cases, it hasn't really been an issue of the money. These particular buyers are suddenly wondering if this device is worth the $1,000 that it will end up costing when all is said and done. Is all that chatter about the iPad being nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch finally starting to sink in? I mean, everyone knew the iPad was a luxury item - but are people who believed that they had to have one suddenly asking themselves why? Quite frankly, that's something they have to answer for themselves. For me, if the money weren't an issue, I still wouldn't be dropping that grand - at least not yet. I'd want to wait until I hear what Apple has to say later this week when it offers a sneak peek of its next generation of iPhone OS, which also powers the iPad.

I'm not making any guesses as to what the next OS will include but I certainly hope it beefs up the offerings around the Web, the cloud experience, if you will - which brings me back that the backward movement idea from earlier.

Could a rich mobile web page offer an experience similar to an app?

Also: iPad aftermath: Strong weekend sales; can the momentum continue?

As more and more tools migrate to the Web, doesn't it make sense that a device as advanced as the iPad would attempt to raise the bar even higher by unleashing the power of the Web? Aside from Mobile Me, Apple is not a company that's shown itself to be big on the cloud the way companies like Google and Salesforce have.

For starters, users of the iPod, iPhone and now iPad still need an actual cord to get their own music and photo collections on to these devices. C'mon, it's 2010 and one of the biggest features of the iPad is supposed to be its WiFi connectivity - and yet there's a connectivity cord (which, by the way, does not charge the iPad's battery) that goes with it. What's next? A dock, like the original Palm Pilot?

Maybe that's an exaggeration but it serves the point well. This device is supposed to be cutting-edge, the trend-setter for what's cool in mobile technology. And yet, there's a noticeable absence of cloud-based technology.

I get that proprietary apps and a semi-cloud approach has worked for Apple so far. If Apple started letting us stream our personal music, photo and video collections to an iPod, iPhone or an iPad, why would we ever buy a 64-gig device? The same reasoning can be used to explain why there's no SD card slot on these devices, either.

The designs that Steve Jobs and team come up with are top notch. And the user interface is always clean, simple and appealing. But why do I need an app for that when a beefed-up Web experience might serve me just as well?  Why do I need a big hard drive when I'd rather store my photos on the cloud, in a place where I can access them from any place, anytime, anywhere?

I really want to like the iPad but let's be honest about it - it doesn't bring anything new. For the money - and the hype - it needs more. Hopefully, we'll hear about "more" when the company talks OS on Thursday.

Additional coverage:

Topics: iPad, Mobility

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180 comments
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  • Cloud Computing

    I agree that apple targets the Ipad for the apps but, in true cloud computing any internet device should be able to access anything in the cloud it should not matter how the device is. The as long as the device has internet connectivity you can access the cloud it called virtual desktops, Google docs, office live, drop box, onlive, ect. You can access all this from the ipad, iphone, ipod touch, slate, and pc. That is cloud computing
    virtualtek
    • The cloud provider though assumes ...

      ... somthing about the user's browser. Until Safari (on the iPad at least) is more than superficially "industry standard", <i>the cloud</i> won't offer Apple much competition.

      Now, if Firefox gets ported to the iPad, the picture changes somewhat but until then ...
      M Wagner
    • HA HA HA

      "Cloud computing" is another dumb buzzword, to take the place of the mercifully faded "Web 2.0" When you hear people talking about this crap (see above), it usually reveals that they don't know all that much about the topic. Otherwise, they'd know that this is simply distributed, client/server computing. It has been around for ages.

      Your example above is called "the Internet."

      And cheerleading for MORE reliance on online services (especially PAID online services) is ignorant as hell from a consumer standpoint. You're begging to be ripped off and made dependent on a service that:

      1. Isn't available when you're not online. When your phone is sitting next to your computer, there's no excuse for its inability to share data with the computer over USB. The inability of iPhone apps to sync data with counterpart apps on the computer has severely crippled the platform, rendering it much poorer in terms of USEFUL applications. There's a reason that games and fart players dominate the App Store.

      2. Makes you dependent on a very few IPSs (your cable company or telco), freeing them to inflict even worse price gouging than they are currently.

      3. Is slower than local storage and totally unsuitable for certain types of content. Gee, I'm packing for a trip and want to put some movies on my iPad. Uh, yeah, I want to wait a couple hours for them to download from "the cloud", when I already have them right on my desk on a hard drive.

      Storage is smaller and more plentiful than ever, and we have people willingly making themselves victims of service providers. This is why we're subjected to so many rip-offs today: People DON'T THINK IT THROUGH.
      dgurney
      • exactly

        I agree with you, but that is only because I thought it through. I sure that
        on this 'network' many people will have other opinions, which will not be
        based on reality.
        john_gillespie
    • Cloud Computing

      And there's the rub. You need internet
      connectivity. What if you have no internet
      connection and you just want to work on a
      spreadsheet or a document? If it is stored
      somewhere in the cloud, you can't do your work.
      And if, as promised, in the future all software
      will also be in the cloud, if you want to work
      on something and have no immediate internet
      connectivity, of if you just don't want what
      you are working on in the cloud, you are out of
      luck. Now if they can somehow get 100% reliable
      broadband to 100% of the people at a price
      everyone can afford, it might just be
      conceivable.
      kewaynco
      • Dunno about YOUR cloud...

        ... But all the cloud computing I've done isn't
        quite like that.

        Ubuntu One, Ubuntu Linux's free (for a few Gbs)
        Cloud service, more or less syncs up files on a
        folder between your computers and the Cloud
        server. It's more or less an automatic
        backup/retrieval system, where it's stored on
        all your computers, AND on the server. That
        way, if I work on a file, I just save it. It
        saves on the hard drive, then it sends the new
        file to the server. If I'm offline, it simply
        saves it to the hard drive, and will then send
        the new file to the server when I'm next
        online.

        I use it to sync school files between my laptop
        and my desktop. Both computers often have long
        gaps between 'Net access, and this works
        PERFECTLY for me.

        Steam, that service that you buy/use games with
        (notably Valve games like Half-Life 2), is also
        a cloud system, but with programs (games). You
        sign into Steam with your account anywhere, on
        any computer, and you can download those games
        you already own. It syncs up the files. It's
        just too bad it doesn't add your progress and
        save points to the mix, but ah well. It's an
        example of syncing programs with a cloud. It's
        noteworthy that you can go to 'offline' mode in
        Steam so you can still play your games offline.
        But online stuff (like achievements, which are
        clouded) won't work.

        Also, this takes care of the need to back up
        your data. Always backup your data.
        Tynach
  • Steve Jobs hates the Cloud..

    ...because there's no control over apps, licensing deals
    and protection of iPAD's products and services. For as
    long as Apple can hold onto its cult followers, he will.
    doug.hanchard
    • If memory serves me the original iPhone...

      was all web based and many complained that they wanted a system to
      make installed apps. Probably as they could make more money that way.
      So, Apple pretty much had a total cloud device which, in fact, didn't
      become highly popular until the AppStore was set up. And now that it is
      ragingly popular you criticise Steve Jobs for holding and controlling it. Go
      figure, hey.
      A Grain of Salt
      • Correct

        The apps were originally web apps. But then a whole new third party market
        opened up...a lot of money is being made by people other than Apple because
        of this. A little thanks to Apple for creating the device to open up this market
        seems more appropriate than all the criticism that the tend to get.
        mb06bps
        • Where did you ..

          ..find that information.
          'App' is short for 'Applications' a term that comes
          from the PC world. Not from Apple.
          And applications are being made by third party
          developers for Windows for over 20 years.

          But who care, we need to reinvent stuff now and
          again.
          boweb
          • You missed the point in your hast to Apple bash

            You really missed what was being stated. Wow, the effort involved in trying to
            get technical fell a bit short for me. The PC world? Is Apple a part of the
            Personal Computer world? Or have you seen so many Windows ads you think
            it's platform specific?

            Yeap, third party apps have been around since you were bumping your head off
            of coffee tables, no contest. However, are you seriously willing to suggest that
            these devices (iPhone, iPads, iPods) didn't open a new method of delivery and
            frequency, to an entire new demographic of user? When was the last time in
            the past ten years a teenager download a third party app on a computer?
            How about the frequency in which that group did? Now enter the mobile
            device and the app store (why is MS so interested in a phone now? How's
            palm and
            blackberries app stores coming along?) You can hate everything that Apple
            stands for, that's your
            choice, but really to deny the reality....
            mb06bps
          • Know any gamers?

            Do you really believe that kids don't download third party stuff?????

            I have neighbor kids pestering me about what device or app they can load to increase the speed of on line games. These kids load anything and everything all the time. Who do you think clicks on the social engineering exploits? I get support calls from my regular customers when one of the kids was there an loaded so much stuff that the machine is noticeably slower. I see browsers with so many toolbars that the screen real estate is noticably reduced. Kids!
            mswift1
          • Are u serious?

            Yeah, hence my point. On THEIR MOBILE DEVICE... Do you work with
            adolescents daily? I do. And of the 600+ only a few carry a laptop in their
            pocket. But they "all" (generalization; not truly all, but vast majority) have an
            iPhone, iPod, or other cell that they "game" on. Did they five years ago? Was
            it affordable (relative I know)? Was it as accessible? Nope.

            I've learned nothing from you...but you've confirmed plenty.
            mb06bps
          • not just kids

            Most of the PC apps I have purchased in the last 10 years were sold via
            download.

            Going back even further, the Be Operating System was organizing a
            central store for paid app downloads, They did not survive, but Apple
            certainly knew of this, There were a small number of similar stores for
            PalmOS.

            Apple got the iTunes idea from the other music stores of the time. The
            original iPod didn't have a store, Apple did it well, but their coup was
            getting the major labels signed up. Not the store model.

            It was only natural that the tossed in video and apps into the same
            successful framework. But don't suggest Apple invented this.
            Hazydave
          • @mb06bps: A Breakdown in Communication

            mb06bps, I think there has been a breakdown in communication somewhere. You said, "When was the last time a teenager downloaded a third party app on his computer?" which came across as though you meant that didn't happen very often. Perhaps that is not actually what you meant.

            mswift's reply was that teenagers did this all the time. This is true, and it hardly seems likely that you are arguing against that.

            Perhaps you meant to say that before iPhone/iPod, nobody, or at least not teenagers, put third party apps on their smartphones/mobile devices, even though the practice was common on computers. If so, then you have a point there. It seems that since PDAs went out in favor of smartphones, third party apps have been uncommon to see on the phone/mobile device of anyone but a technical user. Of course, third party apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch have to be sanctioned by Apple, but at least they exist. Do they also exact a toll for them? Just curious about that. It doesn't matter that much to me, since I am a technical user, and am not interested in a "walled garden" type of device.
            CFWhitman
          • Where did you...get that info from

            boweb, a bit of history. My Mac Plus from 1985 had a folder / disc
            called applications. At the time the MS world called these programs.
            Similarly apple had the trash icon from 1982, which MS called in the
            recycled bin in 95. Folders, windows, double clicking mice
            implemented in a main stream computer 6 years before windows.

            And I don't know where the idea SJobs doesn't like cloud computing's
            coming from - Apple is currently building a $1b server farm in NC.
            (http://tiny.cc/01a6h) Before iPhone 2 came along web apps were
            available to run off the the internet, and still are. And the mobile me
            cloud computing allows emailing, calendar syncing, photo sharing,
            cloud data storage for everyone [mac/pc], and these features will only
            become more enhanced with time.
            rochford
      • They're just trolling for ad-money

        Most of the money land in Apple's big pockets these days, and less and
        less in Microsoft's bleeding economy.

        The cloud is just a marketing name for what we are using every day, the
        internet. Of course you can do that with devices like iPhone and iPad
        which are proprietary, of course, but unlike the redmondian beast it's
        using open and de jure standard formats, i.e. nothing is closed there.
        Mikael_z
      • Having an eco-system supporting mobile ...

        ... devices adds value.

        A single vendor though, controlling that eco-system is another matter though because it stifles competition and thus innovation.

        For Steve, this is about keeping all the money for himself.

        In contrast, Microsoft makes money by insuring that anyone using its products makes money.

        Bill Gates is far less popular than Steve Jobs but he figured out that he could make <i>lots more money</i> by <b><i>not controlling</i></b> the Windows eco-system.
        M Wagner
        • You should read more

          Do you realize the Bill Gates retired a few years ago. Steve Ballmer is CEO now. Gates still sits on the board but has no hand in day to day operations. You are just showing you ignorance.
          Jim__J
          • Your idiocy is showing . . .

            Just because Mr. Gates doesn't have an office any more doesn't mean he gave up OWNERSHIP of Microsoft, nor does it mean he doesn't have a hand in steering the company.

            He just quit controlling the day to day parts (and I don't blame him - I'd rather make money sipping on an adult beverage while sunning myself, too . . .). I can guarantee you that he STILL is directing where the company goes . . .

            And it should be "Showing YOUR ignorance", not "showing YOU ignorance" . . .
            JLHenry