Monday, January 25, 2010
iSlate? iPad? iDontgetit
Apple hysteria has reached critical mass this week. If you haven't heard, Apple has an 'event' on Wednesday. Apple's 'events' are similar to Oprah's favorite things episodes in that otherwise sane people LOSE their shit. Heck, if Steve Jobs eats a bad tuna sandwich it's on Gizmodo by the time he leaves the bathroom. I understand the fascination with Apple. The iMac was a massive hit, the iPod revolutionized portable music and the iPhone changed cellphones forever (and probably saved AT&T's arse). Rumor has it that Mr. Jobs has something big up his sleeve again this week, and all signs point to a tablet computer. With it, Jobs undoubtedly hopes to topple the Kindle, netbooks, portable gaming, magazines etc. All manufacturers of portable entertainment are probably Googling how to tie a certain knot right about now. I'm going to talk them off that ledge now.
Here's the thing guys, Tablet computers are not new. I remember playing with them years ago. They let you doodle with your finger!! You can click with your FINGER!!! .....FINGER!! Listen Steve, can I call you Steve? People are fine with the imbalance of form vs. function on the iPhone. With auto-correct, even the fattest thumbs can bang out a text message. A TEXT MESSAGE. Could you imagine writing a research paper like this? How about even a grammatically complete sentence? The thought alone makes my thumbs curl. Computers desperately need a tactile keyboard, something with some give and springiness. I'm writing this blog post on my netbook that has the smallest keyboard I've ever seen (cellphones notwithstanding), but it's still a keyboard. I don't care how many games you can play or how awesome videos look on it, by handicapping peoples ability to communicate, it's going to simply be a big iPhone. Not a bad thing, but hardly revolutionary.
There are other rumors that the screen will be OLED. OLED's are fantastic (my Zune HD has one), and use very little power, but the incredible contrast and colors they afford are not the characteristics you look for in an ereader. Books are bland, but easy on the eyes. An important quality for something you plan to stare at for hours. I will concede that magazines and gaming would be incredible on a 10-inch iPhone. But what makes it more than a 10-inch, $1000 iPhone? It seems as though Apple is trying to create a need and fill it (a fundamental marketing strategy), but how many of its own products is it willing to cannibalize? People have already seen through the iPhone/iTouch racket, and 99% of people who this product is gearing for are perfectly satisfied with having a home computer and a cellphone. Blurring this line doesn't exactly count as "creating a need". I'm sure it will be sexy, and I'm sure it will be extremely intuitive and user-friendly, but when the dust settles, I'd be surprised if it will really be "the most important thing I've ever done" as Steve Jobs has claimed this week.
Here's hoping I'm wrong.
My tax refund is burning an Apple-sized hole in my pocket.