“It’s going to succeed because no one has tried it before”
It’s pretty easy to slam the new iPad. It’s a media consumption device in a coffee table book form factor. And its not the first.
I carelessly abuse books. I don’t think this unit would survive the inhumane conditions granted to my last three paperbacks.
I worry my 50” plasma isn’t big enough. I have no intereste in watching TV in my lap, much less a move I actually want to enjoy.
I am an aggressive mutli-tasking web surfer. I don’t surf to surf. It just doesn’t work like that, and at least a PC based tablet has connectivity and productivity apps that map to my way of getting work done or connecting to the rest of my PC experience.
Companies are trying to sell digital store fronts into our homes. This is a tough ask. Apple TV was an STB not shown much love. Kindle and Nook may surprise. Most have failed miserably. A tough road to hoe, and its not easy to compete with cheap, timely, HD and free (even if sometimes virus infested). And the book form factor, closer than ever, remains still a bit out of reach. Timing the technology with the market, that magically lucrative crap shoot, remains a bit off.
Yet there is promise, and if 95% of CES hype was on the 3D television, the more important 5% was on electronic paper. The digitization of the old-school book. And the old school-book. Newspapers, maps, novels and comics. Something I can hold in front of my face and on my lap and just read. Or tap at.
Today’s PC derived tablets are too big, loud, warm, heavy, you get the idea. The Kindle and Nook make sacrifices in scope of functionality to get as close as they can to hardcover ergonomics. The iPad tries to cross the streams, a powerful netbook you are supposed to hold in some way to permit comfortable reading while still tapping on it regularly to tell it what to do next. And it will happen, the almost post-science-camp displays at CES were almost too good to believe, Moore’s law continues to squeeze x86 and ARM into a heat envelop below that causing heat rash and localized sweat. And slowly the form factor, performance, battery life, visual comfort, price, and business model will converge.
But its going to take a while.
It looks to me like we are going to wait a bit more for the digitization of everyday media to replace the splendor and ergonomics of a filleted newspaper or a paperback book. I’ve got a perfectly good PC tablet now. It collects dust; I have considered turning it into a giant remote control; project currently on hold.
I mean, have you ever noticed that the springiness of a paperback actually clings to your inset finger and helps to hold it perfectly wedged into your hand?
The iPad is not going to destroy or re-invent 2000 years of culture. The PC already did that. And at some point, we will invent an eBook that feels like a book should. And we will design an omnicient pad that writes our thoughts before we do. In the meantime, the iPad sits in the chasm, and we will see if it’s got the staying power and roadmap to grow out of its awkwardly shaped youth and highly protective and proscriptive parents.
Simon Solotko has been called “just some guy” and his views should not sway your own.