iPad: The wider implications of Steve Jobs' new creation

iPad: The wider implications of Steve Jobs' new creation

Summary: OK, so yesterday, Steve Jobs lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding Apple's newest creation, even unhooking the velvet rope and allowing members of the press to briefly fondle "hot off the production line" iPads. But let's put the actual iPad aside for a moment and think about the wider implications of this device being unleashed on the consumer electronics market.

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Special Report: Apple Tablet

OK, so yesterday, Steve Jobs lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding Apple's newest creation, even unhooking the velvet rope and allowing members of the press to briefly fondle "hot off the production line" iPads. But let's put the actual iPad aside for a moment and think about the wider implications of this device being unleashed on the consumer electronics market.

Check out the iPad image gallery!

First off, price. $499 for the base model isn't exactly cheap, but for a tablet based system, it's not expensive either. Steve Jobs once said that "we don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk." Well, this might not be a personal computer in ever sense of the word, to most people it's computer. It's got the Apple logo on it, it's sexy looking, and it's under $500. Put this next to a $599 Mac mini and which are people going to think is the better deal?

The problem with the low end of the market, the sub-$600 market, is that over the past few months it's been dominated by netbooks, which while being good for certain applications, have represented a race to the bottom between the OEMs in terms of price and features. A $499 iPad opens up Apple ownership to a whole new market segment, and PC OEMs now need to be aware that a budget price doesn't mean a budget experience for the user. My guess is that folks at OEMs such as ASUS and Samsung are already sketching out ideas.

Another pressure point that the iPad is now firmly applying pressure to is devices that offer web access but don't offer a rich browsing experience. Apple's managed to deliver a good web experience on a small screen (iPhone/iPod touch) and is now scaling that up to a bigger screen. If Microsoft doesn't get its act together with Windows Mobile and IE for mobile devices soon, it's going to be little more than a joke.

Where does this leave Amazon's Kindle and B&N's Nook ebook readers? Well, again, it's not good. While Amazon and B&N have managed to lock in users to their respective devices thanks to DRM (and before you all jump on me, I'm not saying that the iPad represents any less of a lock-in), but again, the iPad makes these devices seem like one-trick ponies that are starting to go a bit grey. I'm not saying that the iPad is a Kindle/Nook killer, or that it needs to be, but Apple's seen a revenue stream that it wants in on. My guess is that Apple wants to be in a position where it can set the price for ebooks (and probably newspaper/magazine subscriptions), which would certainly shake up the market.

Then there's iWork apps for the iPad. This is a really big deal. Why? Because Apple's plan is to bring a cheap office suite ($9.99 for each app) consisting of Pages (word processor), Pages (spreadsheet) and Keynote (presentation) to the tablet.

Here, rather than try and shoehorn a desktop suit onto a tablet (Microsoft's preferred solution), or resort to web apps (Google's approach for Chrome OS), Apple has put together a custom application specifically designed for the tablet. Combine that with the fact that these file formats will be compatible with iWork on the desktop, and you start to see why these are a big deal.  Again, this puts pressure on hardware vendors to get both the hardware and software side of a product sorted before launch.

Finally, gaming. It's too early for a final verdict, but those gaming demos seemed really cool. The price might be a little high to compete directly with the likes of the Nintendo DS, but when you factor into the equation the price of the games for the iPhone platform on iTunes compared to game cartridges for the DS, the $499 price tag is easier to swallow.

Mark my words, the iPad will have the same effect on the tablet/budget end of the PC market that the iPhone had on the smartphone market.

Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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109 comments
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  • Microsoft and Apple are history

    you say that M$ must get its act together because of this tablet? Why, this is just as closed as M$ product any day of the week.

    Winblowile at least runs on ALOT more devices then OSX does, but the true threat to both companies is Android.

    If Apple and M$ don't watch out, they'll become nothing other then a niche product in some third world county some place.
    Ron Bergundy
    • LOL

      You need to get out and breath some fresh air, it will do you some good...
      nothingness
    • One mans trash is another's treasure!

      I like the fact that Apple "CONTROLS" the environment. I know this is
      a total weird to you and yours but to me it gives me a level of
      reliability and usefullness/simplicity that makes an Apple device a
      usable tool rather than a project. Now don't get me wrong I've been in
      the tech support/repair world for a very long time I've worked on
      CP/M machines as well as the venerable Apple II line as well as such
      obscure systems as Osborne and such. I have the ability to do all the
      tinkering you can imagine but I've been there done that and well it's
      just work to me. When I come home after a long days work of fixing
      others problems I don't want any myself to deal with. That is freedom
      to me.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Some developers aren't too unhappy about it either

        For all the moaning that some do over slow approvals and arbitrary
        denials, piracy of Apps is very low, and, ostensibly, limited to people who
        were going to pirate/violate TOS anyway (i.e. Jailbreakers).
        matthew_maurice
      • I agree

        It's nice to have a controlled environment. The device starts up in seconds, no constant updates, virus scanning, no messed up registry etc etc. The desktop environment is very powerful but has severe limitations, especially for multimedia devices.

        The controlled environment is really the killer feature of ipad compared to other tablets. Others just implement Windows 7 which is not the same thing. Linux is also a desktop and is not applicable here.
        The Star King
        • Agreed - Controlled unified environment ....

          Along with the whole ecosystem is the killer and what gives it the instant edge. The technology gets out the way of the user getting to his/her content, email, breaking news etc. Yes no worries about having all the problems you've experience on the Desktop Environment and like the iPhone and iPod Touch, it has instant on so you just pick it up and get to your content on a bigger screen. This is where mobile computing needs to be in 2010 for the rest of us...

          Obviously there's some things missing I would like to see but It's a good start.
          dave95.
    • not saying they can't, but Google has some work to do..

      just like Adrian has said.. they need to get their act
      together..

      the floating panels, dropdown menus etc, etc that apple
      that are basically augmented onto the base iPhone OS
      that are only reasonable and possible with larger
      screen real estate and higher horsepower of the iPad
      are nowhere to be seen on android on slate PCs... these
      make the possibilities for the iPad much more greater
      than android in it's present form. android on slate is
      just a blown up version of mobile android.. there is
      nothing that truly takes advantage of the larger screen
      real estate or horsepower like on the iPad..

      look at the iWork Suite.. they were able to get all the
      functionality and in some ways even better usability of
      the desktop apps into an app that runs on the small
      screen lower powered iPad.. these i think are reference
      apps that devs can look at and see what they can do or
      even surpass..

      when the new apps that truly take advantage of this new
      more powerful and usable platform start rolling in this
      is going to be really big and shake things up a lot.
      doctorSpoc
      • Very good point

        The future of the iPad product will indeed be defined by what developers
        bring to it. People who don't get this simply will go on and on about what
        the hardware is or isn't. They miss the point. iPad is a new blank slate at
        this point, a chance to start from square one and reconsider the oldest
        and most common pc apps, and entirely new ones. It's new App Store
        goldrush waiting to happen. Developers will bring new purpose and
        meaning to this device.
        jaypeg
    • Niche product?

      Ummmmm.... try getting more than a 10% market share for your OS... until then, you're officially cut off, and are no longer allowed to talk about "niche products".

      < / ribbing >

      (pick your favorite OS and proselytize about it all you want.... I'll harass zealots from *any* OS! No harm was intended in the original message)
      rshores
  • RE: iPad: The wider implications of Steve Jobs' new creation

    Wow, ZDNet bloggers are in full force today apologizing for Apple's lack of creativity and why we should justify in getting the ipad. I don't have too much of a problem with it, but its not the greatest thing in the world either. The basic size and shape is a turn off for me. I can see it being an e-reader for the size and if you don't want to buy Apple's ebooks just get the app called airsharing and upload your pdf files. Aside from being a large display ereader, the size of it makes it awkward to hold while trying to do anything else with it. One hand behind it to hold it steady while the other hunts and pecks on the keyboard. Same with web browsing, same with doing anything else. Of course you could put it on your lap but then you are hunched over and let the back problems begin. The implications don't look good.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Uh, the ZDNet bloggers are out in force today...

      slamming the iPad. Selective reading on your part.

      Sam Diaz, Robin Harris, Jason Perlow, Matthew Miller and Adrian have all
      posted negative stories about it.
      msalzberg
      • And the rest of the tech blogging world isn't overly impressed with it.

        Most other tech sites are likewise showing its short comings...which are many.

        A "magical device"? Hardly.
        IT_Guy_z
      • Then they turn around and say that they are buying one

        Or asking which one are you going to get.

        ZDNet is in love with Apple. If Steve Jobs put a Apple logo on it, some chrome, some glass, and showed flaunted it around, we'd have ZDNet bloggers ranting and raving about his bowel movements. Then they'll say well it doesn't have a keyboard since it's a touch interface, but the texture is like nothing else...
        T1Oracle
        • What it does have ....

          Is that it does more than a Kindle by far. It has productivity options
          like IWorks that an IPhone does not have and a much larger screen. It
          has a ton of Apps available already and it has the subtle thing that
          most people like yourself do not acknowledge the mix of OS, UI,
          Hardware and Apps that Apple does so very well. Sure some Netbooks
          are cheaper but as I've read the quality control and or failure rate of
          these devices is well higher than any other device in the tech industry.
          The razor thin margins on a netbook make it a looser for the
          maker/seller. That may be a BONUS for the likes of you but I don't
          want o purchase anything that the maker is not real enthusiastic about
          making me a happy customer. A single call to tech support for a
          netbook and there goes the profit made on that machine. Yippy!!!!

          So it does more than a Kindle and it very well may do what it does
          MUCH better than a netbook.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
      • Negative? Are you serious?

        With any new product you have to exercise caution.
        I'm not going to speak for the other writers but I
        had some very good things to say about iPad and I
        pretty much flat out admitted I'm going to buy
        one, if not the first one than the next
        generation.
        jperlow
        • Exactly.

          First you sell the product because the hype fuels hits. Then when something new comes around it becomes ok to be honest.

          I know this game, all blogs and magazines do this.
          T1Oracle
          • Lets be frank here

            Someone like myself who writes about technology and needs to be up to date on trends -- particularly in mobile devices, which is an area I am increasingly covering -- may see value in buying a first generation device and taking a "Hit" as an early adopter even if the device is not a sure win. I'm perfectly fine with saying that -I- am going to go out and buy one while at the same time suggesting that the end consumer might want to exercise caution. There's "Inside Baseball" and then there is reality of what regular people have to put up with.
            jperlow
          • After you have had it for a week .....

            how about a follow up story on how much it cost you to download everything you wanted on it right away? That will give potential buyers a better idea what it is going to cost them up front. Also, include any technical data you find out on your own from using it i.e. memory capacity vs. used, keyboard functionality, how hard is it to get your personal files/pics on it, etc.
            babyboomer57
      • I've read more today trying to convince me

        of why I needed one then I have of why I shouldn't get one. Its going to be a nice ebook reader if you just want to hold it in front of you, but when it comes time to actually using it there will be a different story.
        Loverock Davidson
    • I love this.

      You're telling us that it's "awkward to hold" and
      yet you have obviously not held one. I love
      internet experts.
      lostarchitect