Apple iPad: Initial Reactions

by Josh Rubenoff Jan 28, 2010

Well, the liveblog was a bit of a technical disaster, but I hope the few of you who read along enjoyed it. I'd like to do it again with the next keynote, if possible—maybe using some other service. Anyway, I thought I'd transcribe my opinions from the liveblog into an actual post, with additional questions and updates to add relevant information I received after the fact.


  • The pre-launch buzz around the iPad was interesting in that it reached a pretty insane, almost iPhone-level pitch, but since it’s based off of Apple’s touch OS, it turned out to be a very iterative product. Now, that’s not to say that the iPad won’t be a huge success… but (and I haven’t really looked around at the general reactions yet) the post-event media coverage will obviously be downright negative if this thing isn’t deemed sufficiently revolutionary.
  • The iPad streams YouTube in HD but only 720p. In fact, 1080p video is not supported, and the display’s resolution is only 1024x768, so it won’t be playing any HD video at its normal size. This isn’t a really fair comparison since the iPad is much larger than other cutting-edge mobile devices, but the display’s pixel density is 132ppi, about half that of the Motorola Droid’s. For that reason alone, I would probably head to a Kindle or Nook if I wanted to read e-books.
  • Apple’s priorities for this device, design-wise, were clearly to make the most of the expanded screen real estate. They’ve used luxuriously large drop-down menus and expanded windows to replicate the functionality of desktop-class applications, like the much improved Mail app and Places/Faces in the Photos program (like in iPhoto). Apple's acquisition of PA Semi has allowed the company to create a custom 1GHz chip for this thing, which I assume runs terrifyingly fast.
  • So apps written for the iPad are going to be front-and-center on the iPad’s App Store, whereas apps written for the iPhone are going to be front-and-center on the iPhone’s. Depending on the respective popularity of each device and the level of difficulty in reformatting apps for the iPad’s screen, this might be cause for complaints or praise from developers.
  • Again, I really like the drop-down menus that Apple decided to spread throughout the UI. I think we were all expecting that Apple was involved in this Sports Illustrated mockup, where they deploy this bizarre radial menu.
  • And speaking of that mockup, clearly, Apple wasn’t involved in its creation. If the interactive magazine format detailed in that mockup ever appears on the iPad, it’ll be in the form of a third-party iPhone app either one for the individual magazine or as part of a Skiff iPhone application. Skiff, as you may recall, is the advertising-supported digital publication platform developed by Hearst, who is trying to get it working on a multitude of devices—everything from its own manufactured e-reader to WebOS, Android, the iPhone and the desktop.
  • I guess I need some clarification on the Kindle’s book pricing and whether Apple’s store differs in that respect. I was under the impression that all Kindle bestsellers were set at a maximum price of $9.99, whereas some of these new/bestselling books in the iBookstore appear to range from $8-$15.
  • Also, sidenote: the names “iBookstore” and “iBooks” are pretty repulsive. Apple can’t come up with better branding?!
  • So the e-book format war is finally defined: given Apple’s history, it seemed like a real possibility that they might use a custom proprietary format for e-books. Maybe the company would have to require all books to be coded as iPhone apps or something. But the iPad uses the ePub format, which some of its competitors (like the Nook and the Sony Reader) utilize as well. So the e-book format war is now very defined: ePub vs. Kindle, with maybe some weak competition from Adobe/Plastic Logic’s truVue format.
  • The biggest pain point on a tablet is going to be text entry, and that virtual keyboard looks halfway-inadequate or hand-crampingly awful, depending on the size of your appendages. That’s a huge problem considering that the ease of typing on this thing determines whether half of these apps have any practical value. But the keyboard dock will probably fix all of those problems. Even though it looks antiquated and hilarious.
  • You know, $10 for each iWork app is not bad at all, and I’d seriously love a touch interface for something like Keynote. An application of that nature, where precision is downplayed in favor of the ability to drag large text and image elements around to form your slides, with a snap-to-align feature, that would be amazing.
  • Apple’s relationship with AT&T is reaching a really worrisome status. I want to shake Apple and ask it why it's subjecting itself to this abuse! Or rather, negligence on the part of its partner. But a $30/month prepaid plan for unlimited data is actually awesome, and gets rid of the complaints one would have with a contract. But Apple continuing deals with AT&T doesn’t foreshadow anything good for the iPhone’s future, to say the least…
  • That pricing is insane and amazing: using the price points of the iPhone and iPod touch as reference points, $699 for a 64GB Wi-Fi version is really great. Since the iPad starts at $499… well, folks at Apple are obviously planning to be moving a lot of product.
  • The 3G plan is data-only… but does AT&T allow VoIP? (Does Apple allow it on Wi-Fi?) Maybe Skype could create a videoconferencing app with that giant screen, the keyboard dock for text chatting, and your combination mic/headphones for sound? (UPDATE: There’s no camera on this thing, but maybe that leaves an opening for a third-party accessory manufacturer. Logitech’s partnered with Skype in the past on its webcams.)


All in all, I think once you get past the initial expectations leading up to this event, this is an incredibly shrewd marketing move from Apple. I mean, it has pretty much blown the netbook category wide open with this thing. At $499, this is a great alternative to that category of devices. This feels like a no-brainer replacement for the Windows 7 netbooks out there.

For a netbook-specific operating system like Moblin or Chrome OS… I mean, I love interacting with a touchscreen, and the display is gorgeous, so that’s an instant competitive advantage… and then there are the iPad’s native apps. With Chrome OS, you’ve got to use Google Docs or Microsoft’s cloud-based Office alternative. I think iWork paired with the keyboard dock would beat that option easily. So, in conclusion: despite the potential disappointment of fanboys and analysts, this thing is obviously on track to become a gigantic success.


  • The new iPhone SDK does allow VoIP on 3G networks. What I don’t understand is why we can’t just tether our existing data plans to the iPad. AT&T;should stop calling their data plans unlimited.

    I feel like the iPad as it is right now is going to be a flop. But then again, when iPhone 1.0 was debuted back in January 2007, it didn’t have all that many features either besides bringing touch screens and multitouch mainstream. As Apple has stated in the past, it’s all in the software.

    But then again, it’s also in the hardware. Assuming there aren’t going to be any new additions to the iPad, I will not be replacing my netbook with this product. I still browse the web fine and at least have USB ports, and with a netbook, regardless of operating system, I’m not forced to install apps that have been blessed by Apple.

    Here’s hoping the hacking and jailbreaking community will solve most of the shortcomings experienced with the iPad.

    Albert Wan had this to say on Jan 28, 2010 Posts: 4
  • A lot of people got caught up in the pre-announcement hype but if you look at all that, it’s still pretty much what we all expected - a bigger iPhone/touch.

    For some reason, we seemed to think t was going to have some magical quality, or that it would revolutionize the world. (It doesn’t help that Apple are beating that drum anyway, using both those adjectives on its website.)

    In itself, it’s not revolutionary, merely evolutionary - or iterative, as Josh says - and, thinking clearly, how could it be any more than that? Even if it had a gesture based interface, that would have still been an iterative step.

    What’s more, as Albert says, it is 1.0. And Apple are annoyingly obsessive about releasing first gen products that are inferior to what they should be. I’ve never really understood it. It’s like they don’t want to dive fully in. Though sometimes it’s probably to keep prices down.

    Which is one reason I suspect there’s no camera and the screen isn’t up to the resolution we’d like. On the camera, where would you install it? Which aspect would you use the camera in most? Landscape or portrait? It’s hard isn’t it?. So maybe it needs two cameras. Which is maybe why it has none.

    If you look at the iPad and it’s pricing, it actually makes the iPhone look expensive. Really expensive.

    Compare the 3G iPad to the iPhone, which is a sixth of the size, but costs the same (outright).

    An 16GB iPhone 3GS costs AU$879. A 16GB iPad will cost US$629. Add about 20% for conversion and other charges, and it brings it up to around AU$750. That’s a big, big difference considering you’re getting a lot more glass in one and in the other only a camera and a bit extra phone technology.

    Hopefully, we’ll see a significant drop in the price of iPhones… One can dream. smile

    With it’s present software I have no use for the iPad. But if Adobe can come out with Creative Suite for it, so I can do initial design etc on it, before moving to my Mac for more intricate work, then I’m in. Be fantastic sitting down with a client doing quick mockups.

    Interestingly, even though it is superfluous to me at present, I really want one.

    Why?? Because I love touch. I love interacting with my computer using touch.

    And, limitations or not, I think this is why the iPad will be ultimately successful.

    Think of all the CEOs who only do email, web and some limited document editing. They’re gonna love it.

    The iPad is for the same people who’ve been buying netbooks. That’s the market Apple will make the most inroads in.
    I never got the netbook market because, between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro, I have all the bases covered.

    But a LOT of other people do have a netbook need. And for those folks, the iPad will be a serious contender.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 28, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • Like every Apple product, there seem to be these inexplicable flaws that make it infuriating to even consider purchasing.  No multi-tasking.  No Flash support.  App store monopoly.

    At least this one is reasonably priced.  I’m in the market for a netbook/notebook for my wife in the $500 range.  I am considering this thing.  She mostly wants something for checking e-mail and writing in coffee shops.  This is good for the former, even without the keyboard.  But the latter remains to be seen until we get our paws on one.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jan 29, 2010 Posts: 2220
  • I do wonder about the future of Flash. Apple doesn’t support it on the iPhone/touch/Pad and Google are developing other ways of displaying video online using HTML5. Javascript and CSS are getting more powerful and more capable of lessening the need for Flash too.

    Is Flash being slowly forced out of the game in favour of non-proprietary methods?

    In a year or two will we even care whether a browser supports Flash?

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jan 29, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • I still haven’t gotten my hands on a demo, but I’d buy one of these instead of an iPhone in a heartbeat. I’m not into phones, but I am into email and light writing/editing. I thought my MacBook would accompany me often. But even a small laptop becomes cumbersome. I imagine an iPad would be much better for my daily use and jotting down inspired work w/o all the hassle of booting up that a laptop takes.

    Of course, I’ll probably wind up waiting on version 2 to see all the kinks worked out. By then I suspect additional hardware and software and a slight price drop.

    breuklen had this to say on Feb 01, 2010 Posts: 31
  • i think i’ll buy a 16gb wifi-only just to have lying around the house to read newspapers, tv guides, books and play games, and whatever else.

    That’ll buy me time until they do iron out the kinks - one of those being decent data plans. And hopefully (unlike the iPhone) it will work on all the 3G networks in rural Australia, not just Telstra.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Feb 01, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • Following the success of the Macintosh LC, Apple introduced the Centris line, a low-end Quadra offering, and the ill-fated Performa line that was sold in several confusing configurations and software bundles to avoid competing with the various consumer outlets such as Sears, Price Club, and Wal-Mart, the primary dealers for these models. -Any Lab Test Now

    Ana had this to say on Sep 19, 2011 Posts: 76
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