POSTED ON May 22, 2010

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Things that are great about the Apple iPad:

  • You can still be first on your block. Or second, that’s not bad. You are out front, my friend, you’re not a victim of hype. No, you are a true visionary.
  • Did you see the HD video? OMG!
  • This thing is fast. How did they do that? It’s about as fast as my 2.93 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac with 4 GB of memory running OS 10.5.8, not some phone OS.
  • Scrabble® redone specially for the iPad. Come on, you know you want it, you just have to find someone to play. In my family, everyone plays, and they play for keeps.
  • Turned it on Wednesday evening. Watched videos, set up the usual stuff, copied files, loaded apps, wrote email, didn’t plug it in again until Friday afternoon. Yeah.
  • The Walled Garden. There’s a reason the garden behind the walls is so beautiful and orderly, and you get to play in it! Intelligent tastefulness is the rule. How rad is that?
  • Darling. It’s a kind of genius to unleash a consumer product that you have to stroke in order to operate. It’s like your pet. A new level of interface intimacy. People complain about the fingermarks, but think about what it means. (No smirking.)
  • Documentation LoL. Comes with a 4.25″ x 6.5″ postcard with a picture of the iPad on one side showing the buttons, and four steps to set up, sync and charge the thing on the back. Oh, they tell you where to find the manual. That’s it.
  • Dropbox and Evernote for the iPad. The iPad is uniquely made for “cloud” computing.
  • Set up? Is it over already? As an “accessory” to your Mac, the thing just about set itself up just by plugging it in. I’ve been dreaming of something this simple for a long time.
  • 2,500 digital photos of the last 10 years on that big, luscious screen. Yum.
  • The New York Time’s Editors Choice “newspaper” in the iPad. Great implementation, and you actually feel like you’re reading the Times.
  • Free samples from the iBookstore. And they fly right up onto a shelf on your iBookshelf! Clever animators.
  • The sense that quite soon I’ll be holding the iPad looking in amazement at an app/book/program that combines all these channels, with GPS, maps, hyperlinks, video, audio, in a gracefull and seamless and intelligent way that creates an experience unlike anything we’ve had before. The machine is certainly ready.

Things that suck about the Apple iPad:

  • Thinking about Lynn Terry’s iPad, just a day or so out of the box, that slipped out of her hand and smashed to bits. It’s heavy for its size and slick, glossy, slippery. Form over function? You’re walking a pretty shaky line here.
  • Carrying the iPad. I mean, how do you do that? It’s like walking around with a half-dozen eggs on top of a sheet of glass. Not that much fun.
  • Fingerprints. Okay, we’re going to have to decide now: clean it every hour or so, or just forget about the damn fingerprints?
  • iPhone apps. Yeah, they work. Yeah, you can blow them up to 2x size. Yeah, they look like crap, or they’re in a weenie little window.
  • No iSight Camera. This thing is made for social media butterflies, it’s more connected than Charlotte’s Web. You know the next version will have it, don’t you.
  • iPad fonts. Are you kidding me? With all the care and attention to detail lavished on this baby, that’s the best you could do? Oh, right, it’s still a big phone.
  • iPhone spell correct, great on the phone with the itsy keyboard, just plain annoying when filling out webforms and it keeps wanting to change your address on Narring Street to neutrino, over and over. Other oddities of the Phone OS keep reminding you of who iPad’s daddy is.
  • Apple interface. Okay, let’s talk turkey. From the very very beginning, the world was divided in two: those who loved the efficiency and no-nonsense capability of the keyboard-driven interface, and those who swooned in awe at the graphical interface. Intermarriage was rare, and frowned on.

    Apple, of course, was always way ahead in the graphical game. Over in Wintel world, the keyboard reigned supreme. Even when the Microsoft Mouse first appeared for the PC, it was as an adjunct, an option to what you were doing. Useful for drawing, an accessory otherwise.

    But in Apple-land, the mouse was an integral part of the interface. There was no option, you could not operate a Macintosh without a mouse. And this prejudice continues until today.

    I haven’t kept up with Windows development since XP, and the mouse is certainly completely embedded on the PC side as well by now. But even in XP you could access the menus through the keyboard, something you can’t do on a Mac.

    Why am I going on about 15-year-old interface wars? I bought a Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad because I plan to use it for writing. Sitting in its little white dock, it’s perky and just the right size. And the keyboard is lovely, well made and responsive. But WTF? I have to keep stopping what I’m doing to reach over and flick something on the screen.

    Back to typing, no wait, gotta hit a button or a menu choice. Back and forth. While the interface works on an iMac with a mouse, or a laptop with its built in D-pad, the iPad is a victim of interface fail, if what you want to do is type on it. The apotheosis of the mouse-reliant interface, where the mouse has been replaced by your fingers.

  • The Walled Garden. It’s beautiful in here and all, but I think there’s a great party going on somewhere that I can’t get to. The incessant animation in the interface is faintly Disney-esque. This is an entertainment machine.

After 6 weeks, the iPad already controls 16% of the eReader market. 91% of buyers report being satisfied or very satisfied with it. Apple has sold over 1,000,000 units in the first few weeks, and most estimates point to 5,000,000 this year alone.

I doubt there will be a more popular topic at BookExpo America next week, and you can bet your bippy we’ll be hearing product announcements non-stop.

Everyone, from the biggest pubishers of books and periodicals, to the solo self-publisher pushing his files through the meatgrinder at Smashwords, is gearing up to ride the iPad wave. I’m 48 hours in, and so far, I’m loving it.

Takeaway: Inserting the Apple iPad, the agency model, the iBookstore and Apple’s market-changing magic into the middle of the crumbling structure of book publishing and distribution may have a huge impact. Stay tuned.

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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