The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Changes Apple needs to make to the Ipad if they want my $500+

Posted by Deliverator on April 7th, 2010

Much has been written about the Apple Ipad and its pros and cons. I got a chance to play with one for a while today and I found it quite compelling in a lot of ways. I believe it to be  an early representative of a fundamentally new class of computing devices. I also don’t think that the present device does enough or enough better to justify purchasing one for the vast majority of current computer users. That said, I am sure Apple will sell a ton of them. Here is what they would need to do to sell one to ME:

-For me, the Ipad at present is an extremely niche product. This isn’t a bad thing. I own a LOT of niche products and tend to use the device that is most appropriate to the task WHILE AT HOME. Out and about, I am limited in what I can or am willing to carry and I can’t see myself lugging this along when I have other devices like my Lenovo X300 which are more broadly suited to a wide range of purposes. At home, I can see myself using this as a media consumption “appliance” to read books, listen to music, etc. while chilling out on the couch in front of my projector. As a “couch computer,” one of the blatantly obvious uses for an Ipad would be as the ultimate universal remote control, yet the Ipad lacks the inexpensive infrared hardware necessary for such functionality.

-One of the most compelling uses that my dad and I both agreed upon was viewing photos. The Ipad, due to its beautiful, bright, wide angle screen and extremely fluid photo browser, makes the best digital photo frame ever. Unfortunately, the Ipad doesn’t have any kind of media slot and one has to transfer pictures to the device through Itunes. An SD slot is an absolute no-brainer in a device like this, but Apple probably wants to bilk people out of $200 extra for the 64 GB version rather than give consumers an inexpensive option for expansion. They do sell a “camera connection kit” but I sure as hell don’t need another external, easily lost dongle.

-Include a good quality 1-2 MP webcam for video calling use and Apple would not only get my dollars, but a huge potential market of people looking for something they could give to the elderly as a “grandma safe” limited use computer.

-I insist on user replaceable batteries in all my products. My experience with virtually all rechargeable batteries on devices I frequently use is that the batteries all exhibit severely diminished capacity within a few years. I view the Ipad as a computing “appliance” and when I buy an appliance I am willing to pay for quality, but it has to last more than just a couple of years. I would only be willing to plunk down $500 for a device like an Ipad if I could reasonably expect ~5 years of use from it.

-USB port for connection to external peripherals & HDMI for video/audio out. The proprietary dock connector is not an acceptable alternative to me.

-Good quality GPS chip.

-Multitasking. The technical arguments against multitasking on a device like this fall flat and the user experience arguments are intellectually dishonest in the extreme.

-Something closer to a real file-system and more options for getting files/content onto and off the device.

-An end to the walled garden mentality that is the Itunes/App store ecosystem. I am capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time and am an adult capable of making my own decisions on what constitutes appropriate content. I don’t like the degree of central control that Apple exerts over what you can do with a device that you have after all purchased and own. Ownership is a term that has pretty broad meaning to me. I believe that Apple is acting in an extremely anti-competitive fashion in their control of the app store approval processes and there are a great many Apple products that I would have bought if Apple didn’t constantly try to manage every aspect of my device usage / user experience. I just can’t stand  paying to be a captive consumer and so I don’t.

Do I think Apple will address many of these issues and gain my $500? No, not really, but someone is likely to build a tablet running Google Android that offers almost as good as a user experience as the Ipad, with a lot more versatility and at a fraction of the price. I wouldn’t count Microsoft out either. They have a long history with tablet style computers and with the forthcoming release of Windows Phone 7 have shown a willingness to dump the tired Windows WIMP user interface metaphor for something more appropriate to the way people would ideally interact with a tablet.