Reactions to the iPad: Future Shock?

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by *LTD*, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. *LTD* macrumors G4

    *LTD*

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    #1
    http://speirs.org/blog/2010/1/29/future-shock.html

    Future Shock
    FRIDAY, JANUARY 29, 2010
    Frasier Speirs

    I'll have more to say on the iPad later but one can't help being struck by the volume and vehemence of apparently technologically sophisticated people inveighing against the iPad.

    Some are trying to dismiss these ravings by comparing them to certain comments made after the launch of the iPod in 2001: "No wireless. Les space than a Nomad. Lame.". I fear this January-26th thinking misses the point.

    What you're seeing in the industry's reaction to the iPad is nothing less than future shock.

    For years we've all held to the belief that computing had to be made simpler for the 'average person'. I find it difficult to come to any conclusion other than that we have totally failed in this effort.

    Secretly, I suspect, we technologists quite liked the idea that Normals would be dependent on us for our technological shamanism. Those incantations that only we can perform to heal their computers, those oracular proclamations that we make over the future and the blessings we bestow on purchasing choices.

    Ask yourself this: in what other walk of life do grown adults depend on other people to help them buy something? Women often turn to men to help them purchase a car but that's because of the obnoxious misogyny of car dealers, not because ladies worry that the car they buy won't work on their local roads. (Sorry computer/car analogy. My bad.)

    I'm often saddened by the infantilising effect of high technology on adults. From being in control of their world, they're thrust back to a childish, mediaeval world in which gremlins appear to torment them and disappear at will and against which magic, spells, and the local witch doctor are their only refuges.

    With the iPhone OS as incarnated in the iPad, Apple proposes to do something about this, and I mean really do something about it instead of just talking about doing something about it, and the world is going mental.

    Not the entire world, though. The people whose backs have been broken under the weight of technological complexity and failure immediately understand what's happening here. Those of us who patiently, day after day, explain to a child or colleague that the reason there's no Print item in the File menu is because, although the Pages document is filling the screen, Finder is actually the frontmost application and it doesn't have any windows open, understand what's happening here.

    The visigoths are at the gate of the city. They're demanding access to software. they're demanding to be in control of their own experience of information. They may not like our high art and culture, they may be really into OpenGL boob-jiggling apps and they may not always share our sense of aesthetics, but they are the people we have claimed to serve for 30 years whilst screwing them over in innumerable ways. There are also many, many more of them than us.

    People talk about Steve Jobs' reality distortion field, and I don't disagree that the man has a quasi-hypnotic ability to convince. There's another reality distortion field at work, though, and everyone that makes a living from the tech industry is within its tractor-beam. That RDF tells us that computers are awesome, they work great and only those too stupid to live can't work them.

    The tech industry will be in paroxysms of future shock for some time to come. Many will cling to their January-26th notions of what it takes to get "real work" done; cling to the idea that the computer-based part of it is the "real work".

    It's not. The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS.

    The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table's order, designing the house and organising the party.

    Think of the millions of hours of human effort spent on preventing and recovering from the problems caused by completely open computer systems. Think of the lengths that people have gone to in order to acquire skills that are orthogonal to their core interests and their job, just so they can get their job done.


    If the iPad and its successor devices free these people to focus on what they do best, it will dramatically change people's perceptions of computing from something to fear to something to engage enthusiastically with. I find it hard to believe that the loss of background processing isn't a price worth paying to have a computer that isn't frightening anymore.

    In the meantime, Adobe and Microsoft will continue to stamp their feet and whine.
     
  2. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    #2
    I don't think anyone has a problem with the idea of making simplistic computers available for those who just want an appliance. It's a grand goal.

    The problem with the iPad is that each person has their own set of needs that such an appliance should be capable of meeting... and the iPad is missing some of what people want.

    1) For those of us not stuck in the dark ages, video calling is a big need. I've even bought my 85 year old parents and in-laws and non-techie brothers and sisters and kids the standalone Asus Video Skype devices, because they're appliances that just plain work.

    2) My daughter plays Flash games. I like to view technical sites with Flash video reviews and news. Even the NYTimes has it. An appliance should meet my family's needs NOW, not be involved in some high-minded battleground for a war that will last years.

    The other problem with the iPad is that it's not just being sold as an appliance. Appliances are useful but often dull. It's being sold as "magical" and the next great thing. Alas, the UI is old hat (just as much of the iPhone UI was old hat to me, a touch developer, so now you understand my jaded view of it)... there's nothing compelling about it.

    And finally, the iPad is so clearly geared as yet another way for Apple to suck people's money via iTunes, it's almost ridiculous. They might as well change their logo from an Apple to a something like a hand reaching into pockets.
     
  3. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #3
    And that's true of any other product. This is only the beginning for Apple in this segment. They've now set the bar, whether you like the device or not.


    LOL. Plenty of us have video capability today and don't use it. iChat and iSight ring a bell? Apple were smart to leave out the camera. Maybe the next revision or the one after that gets one. Shrug.

    Again, your opinion. The vast majority of people (the target market) couldn't care less about these geek issues. Sure, they'll be pissed when they can't view Hulu or play Farmville, but they'll keep the device anyway.


    For the vast majority of their target market, it will be magical having never used a touch interface before except their local ATM. Apple needs to bring these people into the fold slowly. This device is for them, not the geeks.

    It's their model and it is working quite well for them. If it's not to your liking, find one that is. Good luck with that.
     
  4. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

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    #4
    If it wasn't for Apple, what would all those peope whose VCR's flash 12:00 do?
     
  5. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #5
    Apple is being somewhat insulting about the masses or the pundits are.

    The iPod launch references are getting very tiresome too.
     
  6. Disc Golfer macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    Future shock is an interesting idea because my first impression of the ipad was how future proof it aint. These things are going to look and feel as dated as ipod 1.0 in about eighteen months. Personally I'm very interested in the 2nd or 3rd gen ipad, once they figure out what else the thing needs and get rid of the already dated bezel frame.
    Agree with this point 100%. I've heard from others who were very interested in the pad concept before the announcement that apple should be giving these things away for how much they're just blatant app-store access points and not much else.
     
  7. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #7
    The low price is a direct jab at the other slates/tablets and another toward netbooks. The iPad isn't a money maker in hardware. It's an opening in a prolonged conflict. They're using content and applications to shore up the lower margins on hardware.

    It feels really strange talking about Apple like this to be honest.
     
  8. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #8
    The problem I have with the iPad is that Steve said it was a device between a smartphone/iPod Touch and a laptop. My own idea for this device was exactly what Steve stated at the start of the show.
    Then it wasn't.
     
  9. davino macrumors newbie

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    #9
    progress has to happen one way or another.....perhaps one step back two steps forward....or a couple of sidesteps....throw in some jumps...
     
  10. djellison macrumors 68020

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    #10
    Yes it is. Infact - it's MASSIVELY a money make on hardware
    http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2010/01/apple_ipad_costs_27050_to_manufacture.html

    Without flash it's not the ultimate web machine. It just isn't. YES - flash is beginning to have a threat from HTML5 - but lets face it, flash, TODAY, is an epic, large, huge, integral part of the internet experience. Like it or hate it - it just is. Trying to sell a device as being the ultimate browsing experience with it - is like trying to sell a car as the ultimate driving machine...without doors.
     
  11. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #11
    I was wondering when those cost to manufaturer notes would show up. Still, there's a little left over that from advertising that needs to be accounted for and R&D.

    Tell Disney and Farmville to update to HTML5 over Flash. :rolleyes:
     
  12. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #12

    Those cost to build numbers are meaningless. They don't take into account R&D spending, marketing and advertising costs, licensing fees and/or royalties to other companies and a host of other expenses.
     
  13. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    #13
    You seem to have missed the original point of the thread, or not read it.

    The original post was all about the idea that technical literates are upset that the iPad is easy to use, and that's why it's getting dissed.

    My counterclaim is that we _do_ want an easy-to-use appliance computer for our non-techie friends and family. (That's why I bought appliance video skype computers. That's why I created simple menu systems on our Touchsmarts.)

    Heck, the last thing I want to do again is explain to my father why a MacBook wants him to "eject" a downloaded disk image or why a Windows laptop is operating slowly or why iTunes on another computer just deleted all his videos. So yes, I do want a simple setup for him.

    ---

    So I badly want something like the iPad for my family.

    But it needs to do more than just sit there and suck on the iTunes nipple. It needs to replace the other choices and Just Work without excuses or missing common functionality.

    The current iPad, without printing, without Flash, without a camera, without built-in USB, without OTA updates, without the total ability to operate standalone if need be, is missing those things that such a mythical replacement appliance computer needs.

    As you say, it's only the beginning. It's not complete yet. We all know that Apple's M.O. is to eventually add many of the things people desire, but never give us everything at first.

    And that's why people are dissing it : because right now it's a little too simple for even many non-techie's needs. YMMV.
     
  14. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #14
    Translation...

    In their relentless pursuit of mediocrity the technophobic believe they have finally discovered the holy grail.
     
  15. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    #15
    The jury is really out on this...

    I see tremendous potential for one of these things.

    It's big enough to have a 2 player game while sitting on a table for instance. Play against your opponent face to face. There's going to be a market for iPad specific games, because you can expand the input interface to do things the iPhone couldn't.

    I can see this really taking off in certain business segments. It has no camera or USB, you can't install anything without iTunes. Pretty well locked down so users can't mess with it.

    I see utility in a web connected device, especially having a $30 unlimited plan for 3G. That alone can possibly save someone $30 / month over a laptop connect plan.

    I do see other's points...

    No camera; really, I'm not sure how it would have worked out anyway. The person on the other side would probably be sea sick unless you seated it in the dock to chat. Having the thing in your lap while chatting doesn't seem like a good idea, people looking up your nose, etc. :p

    I would have liked to see an sd/xd/whatever slot built into the side. At least to give you the ability to get your own content on the machine without a dongle. Does this thing have AFP support? I know there were a few App's out there that did it, but... It might help in a wireless home (like mine) that already has an NAS and an iTunes server.

    I think the hype machine was on overload for this announcement, things like facial recognition and changing preferences based on them where a bit lofty for a 1.0 release. No matter what SJ did, he wasn't going to live up to the rumor machine.

    I think the biggest pitfall is really the name. Being a guy, I didn't think much about it, but iPad? My wife just laughed, I showed her the MadTV skit on youtube...

    With all the heat they've taken after the announcement, they really must be talking to themselves about it.
     
  16. MTI macrumors 65816

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    #16
    When the current Nintendo game console outsold Playstation and Xbox . . . the laughter and jeers about the name died down fast.

    I read an interesting complaint about the name. Apparently, if you have a thick Irish brogue . . . there's virtually no distinction between iPod and iPad. :D
     
  17. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

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    #17
    It still has no buttons though, and that makes it practically useless as a gaming device. We've already seen just how difficult it is to control most iPhone games, and while I agree that there is potential here for the type of game that you mention, the market will be tiny. How many people would spend $499 on a device like this just so they can play Backgammon with each other without a board?
     
  18. lordonuthin macrumors 6502

    lordonuthin

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    #18
    Well it's not perfect but no matter what the naysayers say it will likely change the game in my opinion. Think about this: an always connected device with voip, web apps, navigation (soon), etc. Also it COULD finally be the device that wrestles control of internet "standards" from microsoft/adobe with the "lack" of flash etc. and move those standards to real non proprietary standards with HTML5.

    iPad 1.0 is just the beginning: I think 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 will bring a plethora of new ideas and changes to the world, mostly good I hope.

    I hope by version 5.0 it will roll up, be maybe 1 or 2 mm thick, completely clear when off, circuits will be a part of the sheet of Graphane including the oled screen such that the entire device will be one very large integrated circuit which would make it very powerful indeed:D well anyway that's what I hope... oh, and they can make gazillions of them super cheap.
     
  19. JuanGuapo macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    I think the iPad is the future of things to come. The $499 price tag is perfect. I doubt Apple would sell it at that price if they couldn't sell it at $399 at some later point in time, either.
     
  20. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #20
    Which will clear the way for Apple to impose it's own 'standards.' It's a lateral move from one giant company to another w/one of the only differences being that Apple's cage currently has a more brilliant sheen on the gild. Apple has already pulled a page from Dell's playbook and started a race-to-the-bottom in terms of pricing.

    Once Apple got heavily invested in media distribution the game changed and Apple's goals changed when it came to the end user. Now Apple doesn't just want you to buy their hardware they want to you to buy the music, video, and apps for their hardware via their own distribution channels. IMO, it's the reason why Macs don't support Blu-Ray and :apple:TV lacks DVR functionality. Apple wants you to get media from them not from others.

    Getting back the blog post in the OP I gotta disagree w/it mainly because the iPad requires another Mac to be fully functioning device. It can't stand on it's own nor was it intended to.


    Lethal
     
  21. Eidorian macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #21
    Did you ever think you'd ever be able to say that about Apple's hardware?
     
  22. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    #22
    Think of those table top games you see in Vegas. They are all touch as well...

    I don't think anyone would spend $499 to game on the thing, but there's a bunch of folks out there that like the warm fuzzy Apple ecosystem that exists.

    Think of it as Apples version of the Truman show, where everything is clean and staged, and Jim Carrey walks around completely oblivious to the real world around him. Yet all the while, they are watching! LOL

    I think we may be surprised by the uptake in the business sector. There's a bunch of desktop developers looking to bring their app's to the device because it has enough real estate to support them. I wouldn't say it's the best, but it's certainly good enough, which is all that people care about these days.
     
  23. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #23
    Nope, and if your guess that $499 model is a loss leader that would be a fundamental shift in Apple's business model (which has traditionally been to sell high quality, inexpensive/loss leading software to entice people to buy their hardware).


    Lethal
     
  24. str1f3 macrumors 68000

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    #24
    It's not even close to being a loss leader. Reports are coming out that this device costs $207 to make. Even if you factor in R&D for $50, they are coming out well ahead. I don't even know if it should be counted because it's just an iPod touch but only larger.


    As to this article, it is not about "future shock" which is BS. This is a device that is intended to replace nothing. Discounting press hype, when did consumers have a pressing need for this kind of device? This thing flies in the face of Apple's belief in minimalism.

    If you fast foward 5-10 years from now it is essentially a netbook. This is Apple's computer of the future. The problem with this is that the device is totally locked down from it's proprietary ports to the software in the App Store.

    No thank you Apple. I can stand a closed system on my phone but not on my computer. I would be a hypocrite if I didn't like Flash because it wasn't an open standard and support Apple's bubble.
     
  25. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #25
    Mass production is cheap, relatively speaking.

    For a basic example,
    DVD blank: $0.25
    DVD copy of "District 9": $20.00
    Est. production budget for "District 9": $30 million
    Obviously the bulk of the cost of a DVD copy of "District 9" is not in the cost of manufacturing of the DVD.

    The fact that the competition thought Apple would price this thing around $1000 is more telling of the margins Apple is getting than how much the raw materials cost, IMO. I think the iPad pricing, especially w/the data plan rates, is Jobs going, "If you wanna beat us yer gonna have to make a better tablet 'cause I won't let you under cut us."


    Lethal
     

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