My immediate reaction following the conclusion of Steve Jobs’ iPad keynote was a lack of any kind of reaction at all. It was more indifference. I needed to absorb what I had just been shown, but I wasn’t sure why.
The second reaction was confusion, because I couldn’t exactly understand why I wasn’t feeling anything else. But I suppose this was all just my cerebral cortex cycling through my emotions, scrambling to find the right one to go hand-in-hand with the announcement keynote that did not go at all like I thought it would.
Pretty much within seconds, I realized what I was truly feeling. Extreme disappointment. Frustration. Irritation. Well I don’t know what I expected, I explained to my mother (also following the keynote, as excited for the tablet as I was) over the phone.
And all over the Internet – on message boards, gizmo sites, and Twitter feeds – people were experiencing more or less the same kind of emotional malfunction. Their brains were rapidly struggling to find the proper reaction to the official announcement of the Apple iPad, a 10-inch touch screen tablet computer that runs iWork, works with current iPhone apps, and has an e-Reader. And when the dust settled, and those features had been revealed, and everyone’s brains snapped back into work after a couple of seconds of disarray, one question really remained: That’s it?
Nearly two weeks later, after I had time to absorb the announcement, read the consumer reactions, and discuss the new device with friends, I have settled on a new emotion to relate to the iPad: That’s it. My initial post on the Quad was bitter, sarcastic, and obnoxious because I was feeling cheated (yes, you Apple-haters were able to chalk up a big old tally in the “W” department). Now I have settled on acceptance. The iPad has no camera. It will not run Flash (meaning it will not run Hulu, Netflix, most streaming videos, and most pornography websites). It has no real widescreen output. And you cannot multitask.
Of course, it’s foolish to immediately write off the iPad as an indefinitely useless toy. I’m not expert on computer specs, so I’m going off of faith here with a little bit of practicality to back me up. When the iPhone was first revealed it was Beautiful! Extraordinary! Revolutionary! Unlike Anything Anybody Has Ever Seen! But no one had an indication of exactly how powerful Apple’s little device was until the modders, hackers, and third-party developers got their hands on the software kits. When the App Store was released and people were playing full 3D racing games by tilting their device, accessing their computer desktop from the phone, and granting their computer a wireless signal by means of the phone’s 3G signal it became clear that the real power was not in the introductory features. It was in the software that built them.
What I am saying is that Apple never really bothered to explain to anyone just how damn powerful this phone (and iPod, which runs on the same software) really was. They built that great Safari app, and the super-cool Mail system, and it was super fun in the early days of the iPhone to swipe left and right and see the phone respond beautifully. But it was all nothing compared to what the third-parties did. Those Apps on the App Store, that’s where the true brilliance lies (brilliance completely regulated by Apple, as evidenced by the Google Voice fiasco). And the iPad is even stronger. It has a lot more processing power, a lot more memory, and a lot more of what gets people to drop the phrase ‘portable computer’.
In a year, we will see an updated version of the iPad announced, just like we did with the iPhone. Perhaps this will have a camera, which will allow for video conferencing. Perhaps by this time, the internet will have abandoned Flash and adopted HTML5 for videos (it’s what makes Youtube run, it’s a lot safer, and it works on the iPad). And perhaps the price will have dropped (that’s actually a near-guarantee given Apple’s pricing patterns).
But one thing is for sure: everyone will have had a full year to explore and discover the power of the iPad, and we will probably see some absolutely killer applications that make it something really worth owning. And when the modding community finally jailbreaks the device, it’s absolute power will be revealed. And I’m very excited to see what innovations people come up with and put on the tablet. If the iPhone can run a full computer’s desktop, set up a wi-fi port, and play hi-rez video games, then just think of what the iPad will do.
But until then, I’ll just watch and not buy. Because iWork and an e-Reader just isn’t cutting it for me, not when my iPhone can still do more.