Wednesday, January 27, 2010

iPad Fail

The first time I saw an iPod, I was smitten. I remember being on the NYC subway. What was that? White earbuds? Some odd interface? I took a closer look. I remember it clearly:

"Oh my God it's a digital music player."

It was one of the few tech items I felt like I couldn't wait t have... and on my entry-level PR salary, it was far out of reach. In fact, my first mp3 player was a Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen... but the point was, Apple was onto something. They were first to market and everyone has been playing catch-up since (except me... I finally went iPod in 2007).

Now, I don't have an iPhone but I get it... Being able to have an intuitive phone/data device that allows you to use the Internet the way the Internet wants to be used makes sense. I wish my Blackberry had the iPhone browser for sure.

But this iPad...

I cannot be the only person who thinks this is the most underwhelming "revolutionary" device (to borrow Steve Jobs' word) I've seen in some time.

Was the world clamoring for a larger version of the iPhone that doesn't have the phone part (yet still requires a user to purchase a monthly data plan)?

I know, I know... "but it plays movies!" Yeah... so does my laptop. Which I have to carry around when I travel. And my laptop has a bigger screen. My laptop is also free, a perk of working for my company.

"But it's a great e-reader! It's going to slaughter the Kindle!"

Umm... sure? I have yet to find a case study where a first-to-market product is suddenly overtaken by a new competitor - especially a more expensive one.

The Sony PlayStation2 came out and handily slaughtered Microsoft's XBOX for years in terms of market share... even though XBOX was widely regarded as the superior machine. It wasn't until major technological overhauls came with the next-gen consoles... and Microsoft beat Sony to market with the XBOX 360. That was enough to shift Microsoft significant market share.

But the iPad offers no real jump in e-reader technology. Amazon has been gaining a solid foothold in market share. How many people who bought a Kindle - and the e-books to go along - are going to suddenly throw aside their purchase for... a more expensive product that doesn't offer any upgrade that provides a better user experience?

I don't think too many. And your average Kindle book is priced under $10... and costs nothing to download data-wise. And Amazon (not publishers) set the prices, which is not how the iPad will work.

I know I cannot lift weights while using the iPad (unlike my iPod). I know that typing a five-page document on the iPad will be a torturous process as compared to my laptop. I see no need to pay for another data plan.

So no, I will not be purchasing a new device from Apple that is overloaded on flashy but low on utilitarianism. And I'm certainly not going to pay twice the rate of a Kindle to have the same reading experience just so I can have the hot new gadget.

I will, however, still do just about anything to get a Kindle in my hands.

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