iPad A Mixed Bag

I’m a little late in commenting on the iPad, but I did want to make a couple of quick points.

First, for those who call the iPad a PC-killer, think again. The iPad may be great for consuming information, but it’s not so good if you have to actually create information. In other words, if all you need is to browse the web, read things, and type a few emails, the Pad could be your everyday machine. If, in other words, you are a techie who wants a toy, or possibly a senior executive who reads documents but doesn’t create them. But if you actually have to produce work – documents, presentations, spreadsheets, accounting reports – then you are still going to want a device with a full-sized screen and keyboard, and the ability to easily cut and paste among the various applications. In other words, you want a real computer.

Second, the population of people who only need to consume information is probably pretty high, and the Pad pricing is low enough to appeal fairly broadly, so it could be a successful product. Could. But the tech business is littered with the carcasses of products that had feet in two different markets, but weren’t entirely comfortable with either. Too big to fit in a pocket but too small to be really useful can be an unpleasant place to be, as my friends at OQO can attest. And if the Pad is an incremental gadget, rather than a replacement, as my first paragraph indicates, that too will cause problems, since it limits the market to those willing and able to acquire a new device. Finally, using a custom chip designed in-house certainly can improve performance, especially because of hardware/software integration, but as countless companies have learned, the in-house approach leaves you falling further and further behind the cost curves of your competitors. Just ask Jonathan Schwartz of Sun, who lost his job when Oracle saved Sun from oblivion.

That being said, if anybody can defeat the tweener curse, it’s Apple.

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