So the iPad has been out for just over a week now and after using it a few time and talking with and watching how others use it; I’ve observed that although the iPad is just a big iPod touch, its also complete different just because of the screen size.
Yes, yes, the CPU is more powerful, its running 3.2 and soon 4.0, and yes it has better battery life.. All true, but that’s not what makes it different. Well, I should say, that’s not the main reason.
The main reason is HOW people are using the iPad. The iPad is really about media consumption, a next generation media appliance if you will. Watching videos, playing games and surfing the web, although not much deep reading (like you would see on the kindle) but more magazine consumption. The lack of Flash has been a limitation that I have seen users come across again and again, but either a flash player will sneak out via jailbreak (oh please please please) or major web publishers and applications creators will start providing dual video support. (I’m I the only one who see parallels between the betaMax and VCR struggle? And if you do not know what I’m talking about, ask your parents. ‘course, I think I was 8 at the time, but I still kinda remember. ) Anyway… The ipad as an appliance makes quite a bit of sense, and people who are not interested in having a ‘slate’ computer are finding the iPad to be perfect. Add to this a completely seamless experience with the App store and you have something that takes around the same learning curve as an espresso machine. And the fact that the app store is already brimming over the top with applications, so much so that Apple can now be more and more strict about what goes into the store, just makes it more attractive to the ‘appliance’ user. Ok, but why is that different then an iPhone? Its the same platform just smaller. Ahhhh. THAT is the reason. Its smaller AND its always connected (with AT&T Fails not withstanding). The use case of the iphone is more about quick access to information that is relevant to event specific situations.. In plain English, the iPhone is great because you can use it on the go. How many times have you been at a bus stop, or in line at the market and 1/3 of the people are staring and this small mind numbing device? Its because they CAN! As such, they are using this device for quick access to information. Email, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, and the killer app? The Map and Web browser. Yup. Need to find a place to eat? The native map or Yelp can hook you up. Need a quick update on the score of the game? Either hit the web, or odds are you will have an app for that. The fact that its a small screen is not a big deal since the total interaction time with the phone is fairly small.
Although many iphone users play games, watch full length video and perhaps do extended web browsing, that is more the exception then the rule. The device is simply too small for any extended, relaxed interaction. Where the iPad’s larger screen makes the consumption and interaction with information and media easier and thus take less energy then that same interaction on a smaller screen so the average interaction time can be longer.
So what does this mean for the Great Tablet War?? Basically every other device maker out there is betting that they can take market share from the iPad be providing more ‘computer’ like capability and experience. Only Android has enough applications out there to compete with Apple on the same playing field, but Apple got out the door first, and again, because of its very tight total user experience control, they have already established themselves and the non geek computer computer. Devices like the JooJoo and some coming from China can only hope to capture a slice of the market at best. Microsoft? I think its too late for them.. Again, a slice of the market at best.