Apple’s Biggest Challenge with the iPad

by Chris Seibold Feb 10, 2010

You've heard all the moaning about the iPad's supposed shortcomings—no camera, no flash support, App store only etc. You can safely ignore the complaints because they are written by the over-teched. Those who are intimate with technology to the point where they criticize or praise any new bit of technology, not on the merits of the device as its intended to be marketed, but on their sometimes skewed view of how they think it should be in their tech-perfect world.

This type of behavior isn't unique to technology, you can pick almost anything people are passionate about and the pattern will be the same. Everyone who knew anything about cars knew, instinctively and from the specs, that the Chevy Chevette was a cheap pile of Detroit-cost-cutting excrement. And they were right. Like those who criticize the iPad may be right, but Chevy didn't care because the car wasn't made to satisfy auto enthusiasts, it was made for folks without a lot of dough to drive around.

Thus, Apple doesn't really care what the enthusiasts think because the iPad isn't for the enthusiasts. Apple likely doesn't care what the fanboy's think because there are not enough of them to make a difference. (If there were, the iPod Hi Fi would still be around.) And despite their griping they'll be buying the iPad anyway.

The iPad is enough computer for just about everyone who isn't a tech freak. Think about your Dad or your sister. Think about how they use a computer. Specifically, think about how they use a computer at home. Facebook, Twitter,  photo management, maybe some e-mail stuff. Nothing very taxing and nothing the iPad can't handle very easily.

Now Apple has to convince those people who aren't that interested in computers to start with, who just want something to get a few key things done that the iPad is the solution they've been looking for. That is the trick.

The problem is that the very market that Apple really wants to target the iPad to—casual computer users— is full of people who don't care all that much about computers to start with. These are the people using a seemingly ancient Windows 98 machine because it does all they need and never saw a reason to upgrade. The folks that just bought a new Mac last year because the lime green iMac finally just wasn't cutting it anymore.

There are more people like this than most of realize. While most Apple Matters readers surround themselves with the new and the shiny (really, I've got 6 Macs right now) we are the exception rather than the rule. How does Apple convince the disinterested, the folks who just want to do X to switch from a full-blown PC to an iPad?

Part of the allure will be Apple's track record of introducing products that the world didn't know they needed and now can't live without. Who would've guessed the Mac interface would get rebadged as Windows and take over the world? When the iPod was first released it was hard for anyone to imagine that it would become ubiquitous. There were other mp3 players on the market already and people already had walkmans and car stereos after all. But, it still boggles the mind, Apple has sold 250 million of the things. The iPhone went the same way. There were other smart phones on the market but try and pry an iPhone out of someone's hands once they've used one.

Apple's track record in creating broad acceptance for new products is remarkable.The iPad, however, might be the companies toughest sell yet. When the disinterested get to the store and consider whether their next chunk of the budget should go towards a laptop, which they know will fill their needs, or an iPad, which they hope will meet their needs. The iPad becomes a tough option for that family to choose. But we can't underestimate Apple's power of seduction.

What do you think?




  • The iPad is going to be a killer in gaming. All those gamers who turned their noses up at it because they already have an iPod touch and an XBox, will sell both if that’s what it takes them to get an iPad.

    The iPad will offer interface experiences never possible on any other gaming device before.

    Because of… multi-touch on a large screen.

    All gaming platforms are single touch. i.e. A mouse, or joystick or wave-around thing can only interface with one element at a time.

    iPad will change all that. You will be able to have multiple character control, multiple interface access points etc.

    Gamers are going to wet themselves with excitement once they see what can done.

    For example, imagine playing doubles tennis and being able to control both your players simultaneously. And your buddy on the other end of the iPad controlling both his too.

    Or football or basketball where you grab multiple characters at once and drag them over to block the ball carrier.

    Or manipulating one player down the court or field to receive a pass, while still controlling the ball carrier.

    Or maybe a flight sim where you can flick various switches with one hand while still piloting with the other.

    Or strategy games, like Civ, where you can work with multiple characters or places at once. e.g. drag this settler over here whilst also dragging this explorer over there.

    Multi-touch on the larger screen witll bring an unprecedented flexibility and speed of your interaction with games.

    And after you’ve tried it, who’d go back?

    It’s like trying to play golf on a Playstation with buttons and toggles after playing it on a Wii. There’s just no comparison.

    Ultimately the iPad may not dominate, as the Nintendos, Sonys and Microsofts get on board with their own devices, but it certainly will start a new gaming revolution.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Feb 10, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • I agree on the gaming front will be the iPad’s big draw but I have been thinking, how do you control a game needing two thumbs or a combination of your four main digits (index and thumbs) playing a multitouch game without setting the iPad horizontally - like on your lap or table top? See, its a humongous iTouch in an awesome way but if you are holding it with one hand, that only leaves the other paw for gaming controls.

    I hear about some wireless (Bluetooth?) controller as an option but then the iPad is no longer a portable or even mobile competitor to the Gameboy or PSP in this way. It will just be a fancy tabletop gaming gadget.

    Surely, many hardcore gamers simply will not rush out from their PC rigs or X360s or PS3s to the iPad. I doubt Apple is targeting this audience though. The iPad doesn’t appear to be built for their lives. No finder, no QWERTY keyboards, just finger-tapping goodness.

    Anyhoo, it will be an uphill slog for iOSX in the gaming department but seeing what iSupply saw with the iPad’s build of materials, Apple has lots of room to compete on price and I believe they will. For $299 who can resist an iPad 16GB? Not I.

    Ditto with iOSX games today.  They are still in the simplistic kiddy varieties although some are getting really good - witness EA’s games. The iPad will surely give iOSX gaming a big boost via its increased screen size. I can see MMORPG like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy migrating finally to the iPad.

    Disc-based fantasy and huge RPG games like the new Mass Effect 2 may not come to the iPad soon unless there will be a memory slot of some kind in the next version. 64 Gigabytes sounds cavernous at first but after a few HD movies, your music collection, and multi-GB games there is little left for your photos. If there was a SD or XD card slot these games may be distributed this way or can be downloaded onto. Remember 32GB SD/XD cards are now very common. 64GB or 128GB cards can’t be far off.

    Then again, Apple has changed the way we interact with files on their mobiles now that an internal SSD is all we will have. 64GB is okay with me but give me an option to expand it later and not a sealed deal.

    Even with all these “negatives” I will still be an iPad v.2 owner - I do not buy 1st gens you see. wink

    Robomac had this to say on Feb 10, 2010 Posts: 846
  • ” the folks who just want to do X to switch from a full-blown PC to an iPad?”

    The problem with this argument is that you can’t ditch your full-blown PC for an iPad because the iPad isn’t a computer replacement.  It’s basically an iPod Touch with a bigger screen.  Photo management?  You’ve got your camera in one hand and iPad in the other, explain to me what you do now that you’ve ditched your main PC?  How do I get them from one to the other?  And explain it to me like I’m your dad or your sister.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 2220
  • No, Beeb, Apple’s thought of everything. You buy a Camera Connection Kit which includes and SD card reader you plug into your iPad.

    Of course, you won’t be able to dock the iPad or charge it when you are uploading photos… and you will have to pay for that feature…

    Chris Howard had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • ‘Over-teched’.  Seeking your permission to use that phrase in the future, Mr. Seibold.  I’ve been searching for a word that conveys exactly what ‘over-teched’ (shades of ‘over-sexed’) suggests.  Capital word smithing old chap!

    tundraboy had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 132
  • “You buy a Camera Connection Kit which includes and SD card reader you plug into your iPad.”

    I stand corrected on that one.  smile  Although it’s still not really a computer.  Are you going to need an accessory for everything?

    Btw, do those pictures go directly to the cloud or are they stored locally?  16GB isn’t a whole lot of space.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 2220
  • sure, I’m happy to transfer all rights of ‘over-teched to you tundraboy

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 354
  • “Are you going to need an accessory for everything? “

    Indeed, this is a real worry. And all needing an expensive Apple-proprietary dongle. Will we end up with a pocketful of dongles?

    Could easily be solved by simply having a USB-port or two so we could connect devices directly.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • “Could easily be solved by simply having a USB-port or two so we could connect devices directly.”

    USB is sooooo yesterday, Chris!  Add “holes” to “buttons” and “multi-tasking” on the list of things Jobs is allergic to.  smile

    Btw, I actually did think of a good use for this thing.  A learning-game machine for my daughter, who can’t yet use a mouse but she can use a touch screen.  Not sure it’s worth $500, but it’s an actual use.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 2220
  • lol

    How to get your idea canned in 3 seconds at Apple: “But everyone is doing it… It’s a standard…”

    Also, i’ve been amazed how little kids, even toddlers, adapt so quickly to my iPhone’s games. It’s just so intuitive for them to touch things.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • “You buy a Camera Connection Kit which includes and SD card reader you plug into your iPad”

    I hope it’ll be that simple. My colleague wants an iPad instead of buying a computer. She asked if it would do what she needed (email, web, photos), and if her grand children would be impressed at her choice (she’s 87) smile

    I have 3 concerns
    1) How are the photos imported? If they all go into an “import roll” (like the iPhone’s camera roll) but need to get synced to a computer before they can be separated into albums/events, then that’s not so useful.
    2) If she ever has the need to pair the iPad with a computer, will she be able to do that without having iTunes delete her current iPad setup (like the iPhone would)?
    3) Backup

    If those 3 are satisfied, it’ll be a great replacement for a PC, for her.

    Greg Alexander had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 228
  • It’ll be interesting, Greg. One thing that annoys me about the iPhone’s photo management is… you can’t!

    e.g. You can’t setup folders and move your camera photos to them.

    If the iPad uses the same photo management…

    Hopefully though Apple will release iPhoto for the iPad - sooner, rather than later.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Feb 11, 2010 Posts: 1209
  • Hey, I just wanted to say I enjoyed 2-out-of-2 opinions I’ve read of yours, Chris.  They made me laugh.  I like the Chevy analogy here, although it’s not a perfect analogy.  The ipad lacks some hardware/software features, but it is not super cheap, is it?  And it is aesthetically well-designed like all Apple products.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought Cavaliers were operating on a budget.

    I also really liked your paragraph about how Apple has made people need things they did not think they would.  I have so many friends who railed on the ipod: “who NEEDS one?”  And now of course they all have one and can’t live without it.

    I’m also surprised that I have not read that people see the ipad as the reading revolution!  If anyone is a young adult or older, lives in a city, and commutes to school or work (sometimes over an hour one way), it is nice/crucial to be able to read!  Books, newspapers, magazines - they are always in use on the subway.  But newspapers are awkwardly big.  Books are great, but can be bulky/heavy.  All of this can be done on a laptop, but those are hard to use on the train.

    Now these forms can be read in one hand holdable device (good if you have to stand on the bus) and these can be interactive too!  You could look up new words.  Have multiple bookmarks for quick reference.  Follow links.  Etc.

    You can check email, your calendar, the web, etc., which is key for busy people!

    This is like a Kindle except a lot better.  I am a researcher and have to read papers with fine print all the time.  This will be so much easier to read documents like that on.

    I predict these will be huge.  In one year, you will not be able to ride on a subway without seeing an ipad.

    lukej had this to say on Feb 20, 2010 Posts: 1
  • Thanks for the kind words Lukej. I’m of the mind that the iPad will be a big hit as well but I am often wrong. Ask anyone who knows me.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Feb 21, 2010 Posts: 354
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