iPad Field Notes

I wanted to post this a couple of days ago, but it has taken me that long to pry my iPad from my kid's fingers such that i could actually write with an informed perspective.  Anyways, a few months ago I wrote a post about the winners and losers in the tablet wars.  Now that the device has actually shipped and I have used it for the past couple of days, I thought i would share some quick impressions both on the device itself and an update on my take on the winners and losers.

With regards to iPad itself, the biggest difference relative to my expectations is that I think of it more as a net-book than i do an eReader or large iPhone.  To me this is the real genius of Apple: for the past couple of years people have been pushing them to release a net-book, which most people took to mean an inexpensive stripped down laptop, but instead they took that market need as an opportunity to create a whole new category.  In keeping with Apple's mantra the device is incredibly easy to use and set up.  My aforementioned kids had it up and running in minutes with no help and no documentation.  Applications download seamlessly and once installed they launch instantaneously.  The iPad native apps look and feel great and many of the iPhone apps are equally good, even when scaled up to fit the larger screen.  I fully expect that any successful iPhone app will be quickly ported over to the iPad and that the store will expand from the current 1,000+ apps to at least an order of magnitude larger in the next several months.  In terms of use cases, I find myself using it as a quick look up device for articles, news, videos and email and the kids also love it for gaming as the larger screen makes for a dramatically different and better gaming experience.  New games that take advantage of this real estate will be hits with my crowd.  The on-screen keyboard is also great and responding to emails, or typing up blog posts like this one, are no problem – a vastly different experience than smart-phones which I find to be primarily read only devices.

That said, like most first generation devices it is not perfect.  First, I am finding that I don't love it as an eBook reader.  Blog posts, magazines and newspapers are good, but the device is too heavy for long term book reading, especially if you are like me and you read the kindle one-handed while lying on the sofa.  Further, I find that the screen creates more eye strain than the Kindle screen, although if you read in low light conditions the brightness is an obvious plus.  I also found that the screen switches between landscape and portrait mode too quickly, which can be a challenge while reading.  Like many others, I also wish they had decided to include a webcam, although it sounds like that will be part of the second generation device.  Finally, after traveling with the iPad today, I wish I had waited for the 3G version as I constantly found myself looking for coverage and with such, feel it would be functional enough to leave my laptop at home for the day.

In terms of my winners and losers from my previous post, I am sticking by most of my assertions.  Winners, in addition to Apple itself, will include cloud service providers, real time web applications, and game application developers while losers include Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.  That said, I don't think the device is quite the Kindle killer I previously thought and believe Amazon, through both the kindle device and their very well executed iPad app, will continue to do quite well in the eBook arena.  I also believe my list of potential winners was too limited.  Counter intuitively, the Android operating system should benefit as any original device manufacturer has to be thinking about their own iPad knock-off and Android is the most obvious operating system for them to work with if they want to get a device to market quickly.  The device will also be a boon to a broader set of application vendors than I previously thought not only because there will be an expanded number of devices upon which to run their apps but also because consumer's propensity to pay will be higher.  The average app in the iPad store currently has a price that is almost 50% higher than in the iPhone store and I think the screen rela estate and processor speed will lead people to understand the applications are more fully functioning and therefore more valuable.  As an example of this, my partner David plunked down $100 to fully "app out" his iPad, something that would be quite hard to do on the iPhone.  I also agree with Marc Benioff's assertion that the iPad will be a great opportunity for healthcare IT vendors as it is the first tablet that is both light enough and fast enough to be used in a clinical setting.  I also suspect the iPad will be great for ecommerce oriented applications where the broader screen real estate creates more merchandising opportunities.

If you have an iPad yourself, I will be interested in your take and comments.

3 thoughts on “iPad Field Notes

  1. David Bernick April 7, 2010 / 12:26 am

    I got one. I wasn’t planning on it, but I walked by the store with my girlfriend, saw no line and went in. We played with it and her eyes lit up. She loved it. That’s when I decided to buy it. Not FOR her, per se, but for people like her — couch computing. She loves couch computing. Poking around shopping sites, reading blogs, watching netflix or hulu or playing puzzle games. She thinks it’s perfect for that. I don’t disagree.
    We were in the market for an e-reader and that was the comparison. So my expectations were, “how does it fit for an e-reader”. I like it for that purpose. It doesn’t bother my eyes and, with the case, I am comfortable reading it one-handed. As an e-reader, I like it just fine. I hate the ibooks store for browsing and figuring out what I want and forsee myself buying most of my books through the Kindle app (until Apple figures out how to recommend me things like Amazon does).
    I’m looking forward to diagraming/brainstorming apps (similar to SmartBoards that teachers have). I want to go into a meeting, sketch stuff out on it, discuss with it, send notes into the cloud and when I leave the meeting, have To-Do lists, emails and notes with diagrams (in usable diagraming formats). I think we’ll see apps pointing us in that direction. The current batch of productivity/office apps are very “meh” in that regard, but I can sense it happening.
    Being a nascent health-IT company, I have already begun going down that road, too, and certainly see it being a good device for that (and not just in ambulatory care).
    Now that I have the device, my feeling is this:
    Good E-reader.
    Excellent game platform.
    Yet-to-be-seen-but-promising productivity platform.
    As a techie aside, I’m a Palm Pre user. With that device, my phone acts as a wifi hotspot. So I have, essentially, an ipad 3G already.


  2. Dave Wilt April 8, 2010 / 11:21 pm

    If a jailbroken iPhone could be an ipad hotspot…


  3. Desmond Pieri April 13, 2010 / 8:27 am

    Chip, thanks for a balanced review of this device. (So many of the reviews are on the extremes.) A couple of comments.
    1. Insightful what you say about Jobs looking at the market need of net-books (which I never took to as a device), and addressed that need in a very different way. He is brilliant.
    2. I like your view that the iPad is not a great e-reader, and therefore, by default, not a Kindle-killer. I want to see Eink continue to do well, even though nearly all of the people are gone who were there in 2000 – 2001 when I was at Eink on my first (of 10) interim assignments.
    Thanks again for your sharing your (and you kids’) experience on the iPad.


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