Apple's iPad, LG and the Tablet Creation Myth

By  |  Friday, August 20, 2010 at 1:59 pm

You needn’t look far to find criticism of Apple’s iPad as a device for consumption, not creation.

The latest volley comes from Chang Ma, vice president of marketing for LG’s mobile device unit, who hyped LG’s upcoming Android tablet as a productivity tool. Paraphrasing Ma, the Wall Street Journal says he likes the iPad, but doesn’t do much work on it, and that’s where the LG tablet will stand apart.

I call bull. While Ma is right that the iPad flounders with creativity in some areas — but not others — the iPad’s limitations are often inherent to its form. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at some other “iPad consumption vs. creation” arguments and consider whether another tablet could do better.

Here’s Anthony Ha from VentureBeat:

[I]t’s hard to situate the iPad in the right relationship to my body for typing. At my desk it feels a little too high, like I have to peer over my hands to see my words on the top half of the screen. Sitting on the couch, the device sits awkwardly on my lap, and I have to hunch over it uncomfortably.

Tablets are not comfortable work tools. Heck, even the laptop is a stretch compared to the comfort of a standalone keyboard and big monitor.

Mike Melanson at ReadWriteWeb:

The netbook … has a few of my favorite, most used features – a mouse (with both a right and left button), a keyboard (nearly full-sized, even), a web cam (though I’m not personally big for being on camera) and multitasking. If I’m going to actually sit myself down and get on the Internet, I’m going to be doing five things at once, likely typing like a madman the whole while. I’m cutting and pasting, switching from one app to another, one tab to another, and editing photos along the way.

So my question becomes, where does the iPad fit into this equation? The answer for me is “nowhere”.

The iPad will get multitasking long before many iPadversaries materialize, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same was true for the web cam, but nonetheless, if you need to get some serious work done, you need a laptop.

Erik Rostad at the Entrepreneur School:

But for now, one program that I often use during the website design process is Adobe Fireworks. Many others use Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver. These are not available on the iPad.

These are valid software gripes for any tablet that doesn’t run Windows, and we’ll have to see whether Windows tablets are powerful enough to run these programs to begin with.

Bruce Nussbaum for Businessweek, paraphrasing his students at Parsons:

No phone? So we need to carry both an iPhone and an iPad? We need to talk on an iPhone to discuss what we’re seeing on the iPad?

Call me when a meaningful number of large-screen tablets support voice calls.

Jeff Jarvis:

Why no USB? Well, I can only imagine that Apple doesn’t want us to think what Walt Mossberg did in his review – the polar opposite of Pogue’s – that this pad could replace its more expensive laptops.

Sure, the iPad’s lack of USB and SD slots is a major drawback, and the $29 Camera Connection Kit is a slap in the face. But is USB really the key to laptop parity? On my laptop, I use USB almost exclusively to attach a mouse and keyboard, which on a tablet would defeat the whole purpose.

I won’t argue that the iPad’s creation abilities can’t be improved upon — same goes for the product itself — but I’m not convinced that tablets will ever be able to rival laptops in productivity. If they could, laptop-like tablets would’ve been industry game-changers long before the iPad came along.



6 Comments For This Post

  1. HD Boy Says:

    I'm tired of all this "no USB" crap when criticizing the iPad, and for that matter the iPhone and iPod Touch. People — these products use Apple's Universal Dock Connector INSTEAD OF USB. It is a 30-pin docking port that requires a cable that is USB on one end with Apple's own connector on the other. I have half-a-dozen of these around the house. This cable can connect an iOS device to computer USB ports AND it is far more versatile than a mere USB port would have ever been. This Universal Dock Connector is why iOS devices can connect to hundreds of other sophisticated, audio/video devices. "No USB" is a selling feature, not a negative!

  2. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Not to mention, iPad is too thin to have the full-size USB connector some people are asking for. It would have to have mini or micro USB like all other mobiles. That is not an improvement over dock connector, because you're in the same exact situation of needing a special cable or adapter to connect to most devices.

    Also, saying it has "no USB" is disingenuous when it is compatible with USB keyboards, USB audio devices, USB still cameras, USB card readers, and USB PC's.

  3. steffenjobbs Says:

    The iPad's tablet form is a compromise because of it's form factor. Yet, all these rival companies say that they're going to build a much better iPad. How? By adding more ports and possibly a camera or two, claiming that their Android tablets will multitask much better, and that they'll be able to download software from multiple sources. Yet when it comes right down to pleasing consumers, Apple's iPad is going to win easily thanks to a consistent interface but mainly consumers will be able to put their trust in Apple's vast library of software and Apple's far better than average customer service. The nerds always think that some stupid extra port is going to beat high-quality customer service. Apple is going to be able to beat the crap out of nearly any tablet vendor because Apple will be able to produce the most devices with the best profit margins in the industry. I really believe that Apple will continue to outsell rival tablet vendors because of slick marketing and their retail stores. Are people going to really run to Best Buy to buy some unknown Android tablet by some Chinese vendor? Are the Microsoft fanboys really serious about some Windows 7 tablet being able to outsell the iPad to consumers? They're completely insane.

    I think most of the iPad hate is based on Windows and Android fanbois dislike of Steve Jobs and his not allowing all sorts of crap on the iOS platform. Porn and Flash seem to be something that they just can't do without. It won't really matter in the long run because the iPad is just going to rule the tablet market and there's nothing any other company can do about it.

  4. @LaptopPlanet Says:

    The iPad is limited in capabilities but it's still offers a lot of other great things thanks to it's wide selection of productive applications available to it in the App Store.

    If a tablet comes along and offers up a great UI and lots a wide variety of downloadable apps it will succeed.

  5. Vulpine Says:

    You mean like the iPad? It offers a great UI and offers a huge variety of downloadable apps–and it's succeeding.

  6. Long One Says:

    Windows is great on a fast, dual-core chip with lots of RAM and hard drive space. It will almost certainly suck out loud on a tablet device running an Atom or some other crippled processor. If you want a laptop, buy one.

    Android pales in comparison to the iOS, especially when you look at the infrastructure Apple has built around the iOS devices (and continues to build!).

    The iPad is not a laptop, notebook, or other traditional computing device. It is a whole new concept! When the competitors see it as a "change of fashion," such as skinny ties vs narrow ties, short skirts vs long skirts, they completely miss the point.

    Look for the Mac OS to adopt some of the features of iOS and vice-versa. I can't imagine that the touch interface won't be the norm for all computing in about five years or so.