Tag Archives | Apple iPad

With Technology, Abstraction is Inevitable

I swear I have no plans to dedicate this blog to links to John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, but he has another nice post up on the iPad and its implications. It’s worth reading whether you’re as giddy over the device as he is or are taking a wait-and-see approach–or even if you’re profoundly skeptical about the whole idea.

Gruber talks about the abstraction represented by the iPad–the way its interface shields the user from the minutia of the fact it’s a computing device in a way that no traditional computer does. He uses a car metaphor:

That’s where Apple is taking computing. A car with an automatic transmission still shifts gears; the driver just doesn’t need to know about it. A computer running iPhone OS still has a hierarchical file system; the user just never sees it.


Eventually, the vast majority [of computers] will be like the iPad in terms of the degree to which the underlying computer is abstracted away. Manual computers, like the Mac and Windows PCs, will slowly shift from the standard to the niche, something of interest only to experts and enthusiasts and developers.

If he’s right–and I think he is–the change is going to be less revolutionary than evolutionary. With computers, interface changes are nearly always about abstraction.

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Will there Be an iLine?

Yet another iPad question: How hard will it be to buy one of these things?

When the original iPhone went on sale, there were thousands of people willing to wake up at the crack of dawn and wait in endless lines to buy one. Same thing for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, although in all three cases much of the madness would have been avoidable in an utterly rational world–it was possible, late in the first day of sale after the throngs had dispersed, to stroll into an Apple Store and pick up a phone with little or no wait.

With other Apple products–not to mention 99.99% of products from other tech companies–this doesn’t happen. I don’t recall it happening with iPods even when they were at the height of their popularity.

Right now, the blogosphere is awash in debate about the iPad, deeming it as everything from the next tech revolution to a big yawn. Massive lines on day one to buy the thing won’t be a definitive confirmation of the gizmo’s worth. But they will be one data point regarding the level of interest among real people. (And yes, I’m aware that it’s in Apple’s interest to whip up as much frenzy as possible for debut day–which we know will be in late March, although the company hasn’t specified the date.)

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Maybe the “A” in “A4” Stands for “ARM”?

I’m not a chip geek, so I can’t really judge this story. And I persist in thinking that it’s too soon to judge the Apple A4 chipY inside the iPad, period. But the article I’m linking to says the A4 is mostly existing technology from venerable chip designer ARM, not innovative new stuff from Apple. (It also ends with some angry ranting which doesn’t do much to increase its credibility–but like I say, I’m not in a position to judge…)


Hey, I’ve Felt That Keyboard Before!

As I spent a little hands-on time with an iPad at Apple’s event yesterday morning, jabbing away at the on-screen keyboard felt oddly familiar. It wasn’t a familial similarity to the iPhone keyboard–the fact that the iPad’s keyboard is so much larger gives it a completely different personality. But my fingers seemed to be telling me that they’d had a similar experience before.

This morning it dawned on me: The iPad keyboard feels a lot like the one on the first computer I ever bought with my own money, the Atari 400.

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The iPad’s Price: Unbelievable? Attractive? Still Too High?

“Apple’s 9.7-inch OLED tablet PC is expected to have a cost of about $1,500-1,700, the report explains, adding that OLED panels are pretty expensive and suggesting prices should only fall in time.”–9to5Mac.com, 11/19/2009

“As the world waits with bated breath for an Apple tablet, one thing is for certain: the rumored tablet with a 10-inch touchscreen won’t be cheap. Most new-fangled Apple products cost the proverbial arm and leg, and it’s unlikely an Apple tablet (which the blogosphere calls the iSlate) will break this trend…the likely price point is under $1000. If Apple holds true to form, that will mean $999.”–CIO, 1/5/2010

“A key factor for the tablet’s success will be price. Yair Reiner, an analyst for Oppenheimer & Co., said in a research note last month that the tablet would be priced at about $1,000, citing sources. One challenge: Apple’s MacBook laptops start at $999.”–Wall Street Journal, 1/5/2010

“Sure, the tablet we expect Apple to launch on January 27 will probably have more than its share of cool factor. But do you want to spend $1,000 or so for bragging rights?”–PC World, 1/19/2010

“Apple may price the tablet at about $750, putting it between the $399 top-of-the-line iPod Touch and the $999 entry- level MacBook notebook, said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York.”–BusinessWeek, 1/27/2010

I could go on. If there was a genuine surprise at yesterday’s iPad launch, it was the starting price: $499. Apple, in its Apple-esque way, calls tht “unbelievable.” Well, maybe: my jaw didn’t drop, especially since it’s for a model with relatively little storage (16GB) and no 3G wireless. And some of the features that folks expected would add to the sticker price, including a camera and/or an OLED display, aren’t there. It’s one of the rare instances of Apple defeaturing a product to hit a particular price point, which I take as a sign that it does indeed want to sell iPads in vast quantities from the get-go.

But at $499, the iPad is a plausible netbook alternative, or an upgrade from the iPod Touch. And even the top-of-the-line iPad will be $830–well short of the hefty price that everyone “knew” the Apple tablet would go for.

Bottom line: all the pre-analysis of the tablet’s appeal and chances of success predicated on a starting price around a grand turned out to be irrelevant. We need to start over again, and judge the produce Apple announced at the price it’s charging.

What say you?


What’s Your #1 iPad Question?

I’m not the only person with lingering questions about the iPad, and there are far more than 25 things left about it that aren’t entirely clear. So I asked my Twitter pals–I’m @harrymccracken there–what their #1 remaining question was. I got lots of good responses. If you’ve got answers, or informed speculation, or even more questions, please dive in…

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Technologizer’s Apple Tablet Prediction Project: The Results!

Last week, I asked you to participate in an experiment: trying to predict a bunch of details about Apple’s tablet by voting on multiple-choice questions, then aggregating the results into a unified set of prognostications. Almost 300 of you participated. After the jump, we’ll see how you did. (Oh, and a note: Mike Munsell won our drawing for a $100 Apple Store Gift Card–congrats!)

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My First 25 Questions About Apple’s iPad

In the end, the one thing about Apple product events that’s utterly predictable is this: Some of the rumors will turn out to be true, and some of them will turn out to be false. And until you know which are which, it’s pointless to too many waste brain cells on trying to form any opinion at all.

This morning, we learned enough about the product we now know as iPad to start thinking about it seriously. But it’s not like all has been revealed. In fact, I’m still asking questions rather than coming to conclusions.

After the jump, in rough order of importance, 25 things I’m wondering about.

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