Sober second opinions on iPad hysteria.

The release of yet another crippled Internet appliance by Apple, Inc. ordinarily wouldn’t be worthy of mention on these hallowed pages — but there’s been such a deluge of hipsteria about it over the weekend that I wanted to make sure that you caught the important stuff.

So let’s get to it!

The Emperor’s New Clothes:

From the “picture is worth a thousand words” department, here’s the iPad’s inner workings, as revealed on reddit. It’s obviously a Photoshop but makes its point rather well, I think.

Thinking outside the triangle:

Back in the early days of our design process, Jonny Ive came in to see me and we spent a long time trying to decide where on Mazlow’s triangle this product would sit. Because we knew if we couldn’t be way up above the very top of that pyramid, floating above it, totally outside the needs it describes, then this wouldn’t be a product we wanted to make.

Fake Steve Jobs describes how the iPad came to be. I’ll freely admit that the reference to Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs went right over my head, so I linked to it just in case you find yourself in the same boat.

Inspiring words:

Then there’s the device itself: clearly there’s a lot of thoughtfulness and smarts that went into the design. But there’s also a palpable contempt for the owner. I believe — really believe — in the stirring words of the Maker Manifesto: if you can’t open it, you don’t own it.

That last sentence inspired the new tagline for this site: “If it won’t open, it’s broken.”

The quote is from none other than Cory Doctorow channeling some Jonathan Zittrain in rightfully damning the iPad as a non-generative device. It didn’t take long for Gizmodo — firmly in the Apple fanboy camp since the first-gen iPhone launched in 2007 — to issue their rebuttal. Funny thing is, the arguments in that piece are pretty much destroyed with the first comment. Sticks Calhoun, you are new my new hero — whoever you are.

Oh, and speaking of Jonathan Zittrain, he’s written up a nice piece of his own for today’s Financial Times. Here’s a quote from that:

If Apple is the gatekeeper to a device’s uses, the governments of the world need knock on the door of only one office in Cupertino, California – Apple’s headquarters – to demand changes to code or content. Users no longer own or control the apps they run – they merely rent them minute by minute.

At this point if you’re not giving serious second thought to your unabashed iPad lust you must be itching to counter all of this with something about the superior Apple user experience, which products from other manufacturers simply cannot match. I hope you’re sitting comfortably…

Nailed it:

Do you like a linear approach for doing things? If so, the iPad is perfect for you. Everything about the iPad interface is linear. Every desired final action is accomplished through a series of taps. Want to read a book? Cool. Tap the home button. Tap the iBook app. Tap the library view. Tap the book you want to read. Hopefully, you’re getting the point.  Some will call this brilliant. I call it rudimentary and lacking…

Adam Kmiec seems to accomplish the impossible here — to quantify the Apple user experience that no Apple fan has been able to articulate — at least to me.

I could (and probably will at some point) devote an entire post to how Apple’s ease of use actually obfuscates basic machine/human interaction. But for now, I’m interested what you make of all this…

42 Responses to “Sober second opinions on iPad hysteria.”


  • have they started selling in Canada? how are ifans in Canada? More or less?

  • have they started selling in Canada? how are ifans in Canada? More or less?

  • It’s supposedly coming north of the border in a few weeks. And iFans in Canada are just as iRrational about it — see this tweet for more…

  • It’s supposedly coming north of the border in a few weeks. And iFans in Canada are just as iRrational about it — see this tweet for more…

  • hehe, nice tweet, and it starts with “A self-described gadget geek” which really amusing !

  • hehe, nice tweet, and it starts with “A self-described gadget geek” which really amusing !

  • Sure there is a lot of hype surrounding this device but I like my iPhone. My boys like my iPhone. My wife likes hers. If this is a bigger version of an iPhone without the phone (iPod Touch) I’m sure we’ll like it too. Have I been brainwashed? I don’t know… but perhaps you expect too much from a company/corporation… which is much different than an individual, and are getting too worked up about it all… they have their spin and their marketing and advertising and it works. Works really well. They’re really good at it. So, just don’t buy one… which I’m sure you won’t… or will you?… So you can review it better.

  • Sure there is a lot of hype surrounding this device but I like my iPhone. My boys like my iPhone. My wife likes hers. If this is a bigger version of an iPhone without the phone (iPod Touch) I’m sure we’ll like it too. Have I been brainwashed? I don’t know… but perhaps you expect too much from a company/corporation… which is much different than an individual, and are getting too worked up about it all… they have their spin and their marketing and advertising and it works. Works really well. They’re really good at it. So, just don’t buy one… which I’m sure you won’t… or will you?… So you can review it better.

  • Rob, are you being sarcastic? I can’t tell…

  • Rob, are you being sarcastic? I can’t tell…

  • I wish there were an emoticon for sarcasm… but no, I was being serious… I know your blog is mainly about these sorts of devices and how “open” they are but perhaps I just have a closed attitude as far as expectations from large corporations when it comes to their products and services. Plus you know how Apple works… expecting something different from Apple even though their slogan once was “think different” is unrealistic… IMHO.
    Will you be buying one anyway though? For an unbiased review?

  • I wish there were an emoticon for sarcasm… but no, I was being serious… I know your blog is mainly about these sorts of devices and how “open” they are but perhaps I just have a closed attitude as far as expectations from large corporations when it comes to their products and services. Plus you know how Apple works… expecting something different from Apple even though their slogan once was “think different” is unrealistic… IMHO.
    Will you be buying one anyway though? For an unbiased review?

  • I’m not expecting Apple to change their ways any more than I’m expecting their most unquestioning followers to pay any attention to this post. I am hoping to sway anyone that may be on the fence about it.

    And no, I won’t be buying one. But if anyone needs help jailbreaking theirs by all means let me know! 8-)

  • I’m not expecting Apple to change their ways any more than I’m expecting their most unquestioning followers to pay any attention to this post. I am hoping to sway anyone that may be on the fence about it.

    And no, I won’t be buying one. But if anyone needs help jailbreaking theirs by all means let me know! 8-)

  • AC:
    I could probably be called a Mac fanboy, having owned 5 Macs over the last 12 years, and I own 2 iPods that I use everyday.

    I haven’t taken the iPhone plunge yet, mostly because my pre-iPhone contract with my carrier hasn’t expired, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy a first-generation iPad. I’ll probably wait until the 3rd-gen model before I consider it, as I’ve done with the iPhone, and with the iPod before that. The product gets better as it matures (early adopters are guinea pigs, when it comes down to it), and you (usually)get additional features both with the hardware and software. The poeple who lined up for the iPad probably don’t care about that, but when Apple drops the price for the 2nd-gen model and adds a bunch of missing features, I’ll bet you a donut that the same howls of outrage and whinging will crop up again.

    What will be interesting is how Apple’s competitors counter the iPad. Will we see someone offer an open-source tablet? Hopefully. Or maybe someday an anti-trust effort will force Apple to split into pieces, separating the content provider from the platform manufacturer.

    All in good time. Just like how I decide what to buy and with whom.

    Ed

  • AC:
    I could probably be called a Mac fanboy, having owned 5 Macs over the last 12 years, and I own 2 iPods that I use everyday.

    I haven’t taken the iPhone plunge yet, mostly because my pre-iPhone contract with my carrier hasn’t expired, but I wouldn’t rush out to buy a first-generation iPad. I’ll probably wait until the 3rd-gen model before I consider it, as I’ve done with the iPhone, and with the iPod before that. The product gets better as it matures (early adopters are guinea pigs, when it comes down to it), and you (usually)get additional features both with the hardware and software. The poeple who lined up for the iPad probably don’t care about that, but when Apple drops the price for the 2nd-gen model and adds a bunch of missing features, I’ll bet you a donut that the same howls of outrage and whinging will crop up again.

    What will be interesting is how Apple’s competitors counter the iPad. Will we see someone offer an open-source tablet? Hopefully. Or maybe someday an anti-trust effort will force Apple to split into pieces, separating the content provider from the platform manufacturer.

    All in good time. Just like how I decide what to buy and with whom.

    Ed

  • After reading this, why would you consider getting an iPad at all?

    “What will be interesting is how Apple’s competitors counter the iPad.”

    Here are five open-source alternatives.

    Here are nine alternatives from Mashable.

    Here are seven from CrunchGear.

    Here are seven more.

    There’s more than likely some overlap, but a cursory Google search would seem to suggest that the competition is already here, with more on the way. They just haven’t been marketed in a manner that your average three year-old can understand.

    I could cede that Apple, I suppose…

  • After reading this, why would you consider getting an iPad at all?

    “What will be interesting is how Apple’s competitors counter the iPad.”

    Here are five open-source alternatives.

    Here are nine alternatives from Mashable.

    Here are seven from CrunchGear.

    Here are seven more.

    There’s more than likely some overlap, but a cursory Google search would seem to suggest that the competition is already here, with more on the way. They just haven’t been marketed in a manner that your average three year-old can understand.

    I could cede that Apple, I suppose…

  • AC:

    Apple trumps everyone with marketing and buzz. I’m still going to wait on the tablet, though–like it or not, the iPad is a game-changer like the iPhone was.

    BTW, here’s an alternative approach to appreciating the iPad:

    Ed

  • AC:

    Apple trumps everyone with marketing and buzz. I’m still going to wait on the tablet, though–like it or not, the iPad is a game-changer like the iPhone was.

    BTW, here’s an alternative approach to appreciating the iPad:

    Ed

  • Yeah, I saw that video too — and I assume from the bizarre portrait video mode that it was shot on an iPhone.

    “like it or not, the iPad is a game-changer”

    Care to quantify that for me? I know it’s hard, as a Mac user and all… :-P

  • Yeah, I saw that video too — and I assume from the bizarre portrait video mode that it was shot on an iPhone.

    “like it or not, the iPad is a game-changer”

    Care to quantify that for me? I know it’s hard, as a Mac user and all… :-P

  • AC:

    Well, Apple doesn’t really come up with unique new ideas (the PC, smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, online music store, etc), but they have the marketing savvy to introduce these things to the public at large like no other company. what other product launches regularly grab up primetime media coverage? Not many.

    The game changes not so much because of Apple’s products but because the average consumer becomes aware of the product and the gotta-have-it cache. Maybe the smartphone and tablet producers would have done what they did before the iPhone and iPad introductions, but the perception from consumers and investors, right or wrong, is that the other guys have to beat Apple with something better. Whether the Apple product is better than the other guys’ product is beside the point–the game’s changed in Apple’s favour.

    Ed

  • AC:

    Well, Apple doesn’t really come up with unique new ideas (the PC, smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, online music store, etc), but they have the marketing savvy to introduce these things to the public at large like no other company. what other product launches regularly grab up primetime media coverage? Not many.

    The game changes not so much because of Apple’s products but because the average consumer becomes aware of the product and the gotta-have-it cache. Maybe the smartphone and tablet producers would have done what they did before the iPhone and iPad introductions, but the perception from consumers and investors, right or wrong, is that the other guys have to beat Apple with something better. Whether the Apple product is better than the other guys’ product is beside the point–the game’s changed in Apple’s favour.

    Ed

  • “Whether the Apple product is better than the other guys’ product is beside the point–the game’s changed in Apple’s favour.”

    What game? And why is it beside the point?

    Sorry, I don’t understanding what you’re getting at here, at all. With respect, maybe try more English and less marketing-speak?

  • “Whether the Apple product is better than the other guys’ product is beside the point–the game’s changed in Apple’s favour.”

    What game? And why is it beside the point?

    Sorry, I don’t understanding what you’re getting at here, at all. With respect, maybe try more English and less marketing-speak?

  • Why is the iPad such a game changer? I have seen a number of gadget-loving geeks extol its virtues, but I just don’t see it. I would love to give one a test run for a couple weeks and see this for myself. But what fundamental changes would this format (running any operating system) really bring to my computing experience?

    As far as gadgets go, I have long been waiting for the detachable-screen tablet style to come out. Maybe we’ll see it, maybe we won’t, but I see that as being a bit more versatile.

    Hmm, what is Apple’s return policy?

  • Why is the iPad such a game changer? I have seen a number of gadget-loving geeks extol its virtues, but I just don’t see it. I would love to give one a test run for a couple weeks and see this for myself. But what fundamental changes would this format (running any operating system) really bring to my computing experience?

    As far as gadgets go, I have long been waiting for the detachable-screen tablet style to come out. Maybe we’ll see it, maybe we won’t, but I see that as being a bit more versatile.

    Hmm, what is Apple’s return policy?

  • Netbook > iPad.

    Cheaper
    Faster
    More Durable
    Runs Full OS
    Upgradable
    Normal Connectivity Ports

    Apple can’t make a netbook because it will eat into Macbook sales (ie high profit margin computing), even though a Dell Mini 9 can EASILY run OSX.

    They are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and they chose style over substance. Color me surprised.

  • Netbook > iPad.

    Cheaper
    Faster
    More Durable
    Runs Full OS
    Upgradable
    Normal Connectivity Ports

    Apple can’t make a netbook because it will eat into Macbook sales (ie high profit margin computing), even though a Dell Mini 9 can EASILY run OSX.

    They are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and they chose style over substance. Color me surprised.

  • AC:

    What I’m saying is Apple has changed how companies will market tablets. The industry has changed because of the iPad.

    The tablet market existed before the iPad, and it was starting to get notice in the mainstream media (Amazon and Sony getting a day or two of media attention here in Canada when they arrived here), but the iPad and all the hype around it for the last few months has made anyone with a TV or internet access aware of what an iPad is, not what a tablet is, and that Apple’s tablet is worth lining up for days to buy.

    The marketing plans for the iPad’s competitors will have to change, and that’s what I meant with my earlier post. They’re no longer competing against each other–they’re all competing against the iPad. With mobile phones, the iPhone came in after the Blackberry, so the consumer sees smartphones as 3 types: iPhone, Blackberry, and the rest. If you look at some of the carriers’ websites here in Canada, they tend to categorize their phones and rate plans that way.

    The iPad is different from the iPhone in one key aspect: the Kindle hasn’t made the inroads that Blackberry did, so it’s not 3 kinds, just 2.

    Ignore the early adopters and fanboys–the real story is how the next stage of the product’s lifecycle, which is where the less tech-savvy user will begin to buy tablets, with increasing sales. Will these later purchasers look at the other tablets on the market? Most will do some sort of research, mostly word of mouth. But I’m willing to bet there’ll be giant iPad displays wherever they’re sold (like what Apple did with the iPhone), and with the massive hype with the launch (and probably every successive upgrade) the typical buyer will walk into Future Shop and either compare the other tablets with the iPad or just buy the iPad without considering anything else.

    The #1 tablet, the one people are talking about today and next week and next Christmas, is the iPad, crippled internet appliance and all. The rest of the tablets, unfortunately, will be perceived as “not-iPads” by the average consumer, and their manufacturers will have an uphill battle just making theirs known. Just ask Microsoft about the Zune.

    Apple’s real genius (pun intended) is in its marketing, and they create enormous awareness of their products months before they’re even in the stores. No other tech company can do that, even mighty Microsoft and all of its marketing dollars.

    Hope I’ve made my points clearer this time….

    Ed

  • AC:

    What I’m saying is Apple has changed how companies will market tablets. The industry has changed because of the iPad.

    The tablet market existed before the iPad, and it was starting to get notice in the mainstream media (Amazon and Sony getting a day or two of media attention here in Canada when they arrived here), but the iPad and all the hype around it for the last few months has made anyone with a TV or internet access aware of what an iPad is, not what a tablet is, and that Apple’s tablet is worth lining up for days to buy.

    The marketing plans for the iPad’s competitors will have to change, and that’s what I meant with my earlier post. They’re no longer competing against each other–they’re all competing against the iPad. With mobile phones, the iPhone came in after the Blackberry, so the consumer sees smartphones as 3 types: iPhone, Blackberry, and the rest. If you look at some of the carriers’ websites here in Canada, they tend to categorize their phones and rate plans that way.

    The iPad is different from the iPhone in one key aspect: the Kindle hasn’t made the inroads that Blackberry did, so it’s not 3 kinds, just 2.

    Ignore the early adopters and fanboys–the real story is how the next stage of the product’s lifecycle, which is where the less tech-savvy user will begin to buy tablets, with increasing sales. Will these later purchasers look at the other tablets on the market? Most will do some sort of research, mostly word of mouth. But I’m willing to bet there’ll be giant iPad displays wherever they’re sold (like what Apple did with the iPhone), and with the massive hype with the launch (and probably every successive upgrade) the typical buyer will walk into Future Shop and either compare the other tablets with the iPad or just buy the iPad without considering anything else.

    The #1 tablet, the one people are talking about today and next week and next Christmas, is the iPad, crippled internet appliance and all. The rest of the tablets, unfortunately, will be perceived as “not-iPads” by the average consumer, and their manufacturers will have an uphill battle just making theirs known. Just ask Microsoft about the Zune.

    Apple’s real genius (pun intended) is in its marketing, and they create enormous awareness of their products months before they’re even in the stores. No other tech company can do that, even mighty Microsoft and all of its marketing dollars.

    Hope I’ve made my points clearer this time….

    Ed

  • I just don’t see how marketing figures in to this. What I’ve written about has nothing to do with marketing.

    Whether the iPad sells or not is what’s besides the point here. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s a locked down, crippled, shit product.

  • I just don’t see how marketing figures in to this. What I’ve written about has nothing to do with marketing.

    Whether the iPad sells or not is what’s besides the point here. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s a locked down, crippled, shit product.

  • AC:
    I beg to differ…

    I see Apple’s marketing as part of their efforts to keep their products locked down and crippled. Compared to the Microsoft Windows/IE anti-trust actions by various governments, there’s been no movement to open up Apple’s technology to other content providers. I believe a big reason is their marketing–they’re not seen as the bad guys by as many people as Microsoft is.

    If you want Apple to open up its products so they’re not crippled and locked down, you have to examine how they market their products.

    Ed

  • AC:
    I beg to differ…

    I see Apple’s marketing as part of their efforts to keep their products locked down and crippled. Compared to the Microsoft Windows/IE anti-trust actions by various governments, there’s been no movement to open up Apple’s technology to other content providers. I believe a big reason is their marketing–they’re not seen as the bad guys by as many people as Microsoft is.

    If you want Apple to open up its products so they’re not crippled and locked down, you have to examine how they market their products.

    Ed

  • “They’re not seen as the bad guys by as many people as Microsoft is.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

    And for the record I don’t give a fuck if Apple opens up their products or not — I just want people to understand what they’re getting into should they choose to buy them.

  • “They’re not seen as the bad guys by as many people as Microsoft is.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

    And for the record I don’t give a fuck if Apple opens up their products or not — I just want people to understand what they’re getting into should they choose to buy them.

  • I think Ed is right, though. Apple is not perceived as a “bad guy”. Part of this is due to the incumbent syndrome: nobody likes the 800lb.gorilla in the room, and everyone loves an underdog. And is due also in part to Apple’s amazing marketing prowess. For right or wrong, better or worse, this is the perception from the proverbial man on the street.

    I’d say MSFT has closed the gap somewhat in recent years. They finally have a decent product (Win 2007 + Office 10 is a really killer combination) for the first time in years. Both of these companies have really smart people working for them. Not only in marketing, but in engineering, and all the other business groups.

    And then there is Linux, which probably has the highest ratio of fanboys to users, but only because the userbase is so low compared to the others. And only if you don’t count the hundreds of millions that use Linux every day by virtue of it being the leading web server platform out there. Linux just doesn’t have the marketing (or market) clout to compete evenly with the other two. It /should/ be far cheaper to buy a Linux workstation that a Wintel or Mac one, but it just isn’t because it doesn’t move as much product as the other two. It also (thanks much to Ubuntu) has made enormous strides lately, and I really hoped that it would reach the mainstream via the netbook route, but it just didn’t happen.

    All this rambling aside, I think we all agree that it would be best if the consumer were aware of the issues and the implications of each product and would always make an informed purchase decision.

  • I think Ed is right, though. Apple is not perceived as a “bad guy”. Part of this is due to the incumbent syndrome: nobody likes the 800lb.gorilla in the room, and everyone loves an underdog. And is due also in part to Apple’s amazing marketing prowess. For right or wrong, better or worse, this is the perception from the proverbial man on the street.

    I’d say MSFT has closed the gap somewhat in recent years. They finally have a decent product (Win 2007 + Office 10 is a really killer combination) for the first time in years. Both of these companies have really smart people working for them. Not only in marketing, but in engineering, and all the other business groups.

    And then there is Linux, which probably has the highest ratio of fanboys to users, but only because the userbase is so low compared to the others. And only if you don’t count the hundreds of millions that use Linux every day by virtue of it being the leading web server platform out there. Linux just doesn’t have the marketing (or market) clout to compete evenly with the other two. It /should/ be far cheaper to buy a Linux workstation that a Wintel or Mac one, but it just isn’t because it doesn’t move as much product as the other two. It also (thanks much to Ubuntu) has made enormous strides lately, and I really hoped that it would reach the mainstream via the netbook route, but it just didn’t happen.

    All this rambling aside, I think we all agree that it would be best if the consumer were aware of the issues and the implications of each product and would always make an informed purchase decision.

  • AC:

    for us Canadians, the iPad will be crippled even more than south of the border:

    http://tinyurl.com/y9jyjw6

    Do you think advance word of a dearth of content will keep the launch day hordes to a minimum? Me neither….

    Ed

  • AC:

    for us Canadians, the iPad will be crippled even more than south of the border:

    http://tinyurl.com/y9jyjw6

    Do you think advance word of a dearth of content will keep the launch day hordes to a minimum? Me neither….

    Ed

Comments are currently closed.