Last words on the iPad (for now, at least)

It’s out. I did my special issue on the pre-release hype before it came out–which was what I intended to do.

Post-release hype? Plenty of it, at almost deafening levels at, for example–possibly even worse than pre-release, which I frankly didn’t think was possible.

I’m not tagging post-release iPad-related articles (at least not if the iPad is the primary thrust). I don’t plan to–because I don’t plan to do a followup, at least not for quite a while.

Meantime, I do have a few reasonably safe predictions:

  • Most commentary–formal and informal–by people who actually buy iPads will be positive, at least for the first month. I’d guess 90% or more will be enthusiastic. (Most people who buy new things, particularly somewhat pricey new things, like the things they buy–even if they’re not from Apple. That’s only natural.)
  • Most people who offer mixed reviews, even if they’re primarily positive, will be called “Haters” in the comments on their posts or articles. (Here’s where the iPad is different than non-Apple products would be.) UPDATE: I’m turning out to be wrong on this, although it was pretty accurate pre-launch. That’s a good thing: You can be less than 100% pro-iPad without being a “Hater.” (Second update: Ah, but Nicholas Carr just used “Luddites” to refer to Cory Doctorow and anybody else raising qualms about the closed nature of the iPad. There are other words than “Hater.”)
  • The iPad will be hailed even more as “the X killer,” where X=any number of things, including desktops, notebooks, netbooks, ereaders, print publishing, creativity, openness, probably even iPod Touch and iPhones…
  • The iPad will kill none of these things. It doesn’t work that way.
  • Most early experiments in offering magazines on the iPad will fail dismally–for reasons not having much to do with the iPad itself. Sorry, but who in their right minds is really going to pay $4.99 an issue for Wired or Time on the iPad when they sell for, respectively, $12 or less per year and $20 or less per year for 12 or 52+ issues, respectively? (Yes, there will be some. No, there won’t be many.)

There’s some bizarre stuff going on–e.g., a pro-Apple analyst proclaiming that the iPad could be to tablet computing what the Mac is to personal computing in general, a fate I suspect Apple would just as soon avoid…and another one saying the iPad will be the death of Mac notebooks, another fate I suspect Apple would just as soon avoid.

Meantime, if you buy an iPad, enjoy (I’m sure you will). Just don’t get it very wet or drop it very often (having just watched the PC World stress test)–but, frankly, I don’t think that’s advice iPad owners really need to hear. “Oh, hey, here’s my shiny new $500 electronic device! I think I’ll rinse it off under running water and then drop it a few times.” Maybe not.

5 Responses to “Last words on the iPad (for now, at least)”

  1. And every tablet device that comes out for the next few years will be hyped as an “iPad killer”

  2. walt says:

    Jim: I doubt that, but you could be right. No other company has the Jobs Reality Distortion Field–not even Pixar/Disney.

  3. Steven Kaye says:

    Sadly, it’s not just a matter of Mac fanboys vs. the world – most tech blog discussion, at least in comments, is at the level of back-and-forths of “No YOU suck!” because that’s what gets traffic.

    Obligatory disclaimer: my ex-housemate and one current one work for Apple. But hey, I’m typing this on my faithful MSI Wind.

    I wouldn’t buy the first rev, but then again that’s a good rule of thumb regardless of manufacturer. I do think touch-screen+portability+large screen does mean more than just a larger iPhone/iTouch, but we’ll see what developers actually offer once they start developing for the iPad rather than just porting over.

    In general, while I don’t have much patience for killer app/device rhetoric, I do think it’s not overblown to suggest the iPad is qualitatively different and we might finally get devices designed for and sold to people other than tech geeks. Call me starry-eyed.

  4. walt says:

    Steven: I’m staying away from the “is the iPad just a bigger iTouch” issue–that’s one where I’m really not qualified to comment unless I owned both devices.

    Your last paragraph, though, bothers me a bit. As far as I can tell, almost all personal computers–netbooks, notebooks, desktops, all-in-ones–are designed for and sold to people other than tech geeks. Either that, or most people are tech geeks, which I don’t buy. That personal computers allow tech geeks to go beyond the basics is quite another issue. You can customize the heck out of a Honda Civic, but I wouldn’t say it’s a car designed and sold for car customizers. I know too many people who aren’t tech geeks by any definition and who happily use various PCs (some Mac, some Windows…very few Linux).