Unless you’ve been living on the moon, you know that Apple announced their long-awaited, and much speculated tablet device. It’s called the iPad.
Think of a much larger iPod touch or iPhone and you have the right idea. How important is the iPad to the future of Apple? How much will the iPad change computing? In many ways, Apple’s iPad might be more important than the original Mac.
The iPad: What It Is
It’s a tablet. It weights 1.5 pounds, and is one half inch thick. It has a big, 9.7 inch multi-touch screen. And it runs most of the apps from the iTunes App Store.
Oh, and it’s priced from $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi version all the way to $829 for a Wi-Fi and 3G model with 64GB.
The iPad gets up to 10 hours of battery life, far more on standby mode. The LED oleophobic screen is 1024 by 768 pixels. It’s got Wi-Fi, a digital compass, assisted GPS, Bluetooth, an accelerator, an ambient light sensor, microphone and speakers.
The size is not quite as big as an 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet of paper; smaller at 9.5 inches high, by about 7.5 inches wide. All the really nitty gritty technical details are already on Apple’s web site, so feast your eyes there.
The iPad: It’s More Important Than The Mac
Apple pioneered mass adoption of personal computers with a graphic user interface. Windows extended the GUI paradigm to the masses. But not much has changed since 1984.
Sure, our Macs are faster, do more things, are more capable, and even cost less than PCs back in the 1980s, but it’s still point and click. Mac or Windows. That’s how it’s been for 25 years.
The iPhone changed that. Yes, the iPhone, and little brother iPod touch, are really handheld, in-your-pocket, computing devices. They’re easier to use than computers, Mac or PC.
Simply put, for the future, touch rules.
People who would never be productive using a more complex and expensive Mac or Windows PC have little trouble getting very sophisticated, advanced usage from an iPhone.
Touch controls have been available on small devices and cell phones for years. But none provided the intuitive ease-of-use or functionality brought about by Apple’s iPhone, and the over 140,000 apps, games, and utilities available for the device.
2010: 1984 Deja vu All Over Again
1984’s Mac was a watershed device. It ushered in the graphic user interface period of the point and click mouse. The iPhone, and by extension, the iPad, are on the threshold of the future of computing. At least until voice computing arrives.
The iPad is more important than the original Mac because it can do much more than the original Mac. It’s not married to a mouse and keyboard. Operation is even more intuitive. Apps, games, utilities, multi-media. All are easier to use on the iPad than a Mac. And, no waiting for years for apps to catch up. They’re here now.
Importantly, the iPad is priced aggressively (by Apple standards) to become a mass market device on a level never achieved by the Mac.
Already there are over 75-million iPhone and iPod touch users. In barely two and a half years. The Mac does not have half that many users worldwide and has been around since 1984. Multi-touch is no longer the future of personal computing. It’s here now. It’s growing rapidly. It’s flourishing. And Apple is on top of all the pieces.
It is unlikely that Apple’s multi-touch handheld computing devices will be as powerful as a MacBook or iMac (at least, not any time soon). So, hard nosed-computing will still be done the old fashioned way for many years to come—keyboard, mouse, point and click.
The iPhone has proven than many, many useful tasks and functions can be handled with a small, lightweight, easy to operate device that is more mobile than Macs or PCs, and more useful than PC tablets or Netbooks. The iPad will bring more casual personal computing, with mobility, to more users than the Mac.