I see that Mary Jo Foley has confessed to buying an iPad and I have to confess that I bought one too. Like Mary Jo, it is my first Apple product ever, and like Mary Jo, so far I love it. Or more accurately, I love it when I can get it away from the rest of the family who love it too. Just a few observations, many of which echo Mary Jo’s:
- Yes, it is strictly a consumption device and not a replacement for any of my Windows PCs even with the optional keyboard which I purchased.
- I did not get the cell phone version so cannot comment on that aspect, but running it completely untethered in our Wi-Fi permeated household and at various Wi-Fi hotspots while traveling works like a charm.
- Battery life is fantastic.
- As a previously exclusive Windows user, the Apple user interface and the iPad itself were annoyingly opaque until I discovered Apple’s well hidden iPad User Guide. I still find it painfully obscure in some areas, to wit: to find out what is filling up the rapidly vanishing space on your iPad (mine is nearly full), you apparently have to synch with iTunes on your Windows PC and use good old Windows Explorer to look at the backup directories. I assume that Apple Mac users have to do something similar.
- Related is that there are only 11 screens for application icons which my family blew past in no time. You can still download apps (to the limits of your storage), but you have to search for them by name to run them. Also 11 screens full of icons with rudimentary sorting capability isn’t the slickest UI I have ever seen.
- The App Store at iTunes on the Web reminds me of the early days of the IBM PC when everyone and his cousin was creating programs for the PC. Some apps are great, some are trivial, some are annoying, and some need to be baked a whole lot more. Many apps are free or are offered for a few days for free. My initial view was that the whole iTunes App Store concept was somewhat limiting in what is actually a PC, but it does not seem to be so in practice and the user reviews and simplified update mechanism are useful.
- What’s with the apps that are just packaged Web sites or print magazines? Despite my reluctance, I do have to admit that they generally look and work better as an iPad app though.
If I had to sum it up, the iPad is an incredible amount of fun. There may be a business use in there somewhere but I am not looking for it.
I do wonder how Microsoft missed this market. This is what Microsoft’s Origami (aka UMPC) should have been but wasn’t, perhaps because it came down from the PC world instead of up from smartphones. As Mary Jo observes, Microsoft is apparently going to try again with Windows 7 or Windows Embedded "slates", and we’ll have to see if they can break their persistent run of problems in the "gadget space," but a company that not long ago had such a large chunk of the smartphone market should have seen this coming, particularly since they did not have any partners in this market to slow them down.