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Why The Apple iPad Will Disappoint (The Obama Effect)

By - January 27, 2010

JobsIpadMahalo.png

(image ) While the world watches the next coming of Jobs, I reflected on my gut feeling as to the iPad, and why that feeling is inherently one of disappointment (see my predictions 2010 (#5) and my post earlier this week).  

And I’ll admit, this one is not entirely logical. But then again, I don’t always base my predictions (or my business decisions) on pure logic. Sometimes I just go with a feeling.

So what is my feeling about the iPad? Well, to be honest, it’s simply this: I want one. I want to play with it, I want it to work the way I want it to work, I want it to do everything I wish a device like this should do. I am the guy, after all, who wrote his master’s thesis on the Internet-connected tablet and its impact on the media business (yes, I really did. In 1991-92).

What? Wait a minute, Battelle, you’re saying you WANT one, AND that it’s going to disappoint?

Yes, stay with me. Here’s why: When Apple introduced the iPhone, I really, truly did NOT want one. And it became a game changing hit. I eventually caved and got one (but don’t use it much), and I still have major reservations about the platform. When Amazon introduced the Kindle, I really, truly, did NOT want one. I eventually caved and got one (but don’t use it much), and I still have major reservations about the platform.

But the iPad? Oh, yeah – I really, really want one.

Which, to my mind, almost dooms the thing immediately.

Why? Well, because it can’t possibly live up to my expectations. I want one for entirely irrational reasons. I want one because it holds the promise of all that might be good, right, and perfectly executed in the world of computing, media, and culture. The iPad is the Obama of devices: It’s all hope, inspirational oratory, intelligence, and good intentions.

But as we have seen, a year later, reality (whether business or political) often gets in the way of intelligence. It looks like the iPad will adopt the iPhone approach to apps in full, so that’s one more distribution orifice created, for example.

In any case, I’ll probably get an iPad. And one year from now, I’ll probably be disappointed. Irrationally disappointed, but still, disappointed.

I guess we’ll see. I hope I’m wrong. I’ll probably be wrong. If I am, I’ll cop to it (and reset my gut to boot).


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24 thoughts on “Why The Apple iPad Will Disappoint (The Obama Effect)

  1. seo firm says:

    Yes, it’s similar to the reason I wanted to see the movie Avatar right away rather than waiting for the hype to build up my expectations to a point where I would inevitably be let down. I want an iPad, too and think I’ll get one right away, just to manage my own expectations, which is probably a bad reason.

  2. janetti ! says:

    it’s sexy. I definitely want one. totally irrational but us adults deserve toys too.

  3. Jill says:

    Wow, I agree. My gut WANTS one like there’s no tomorrow. Of course, my gut has excellent taste and wants the 64GB 3G (why settle?). But how could it possibly live up to my expectations? It would have to incorporate a camera and a bluetooth phone for that, really. Without that I may as well spend less (and sacrifice cool) and get a netbook. Ooops, here comes the angry mob….

  4. webpierat says:

    Definitely a Kindle killer. And to think I almost bought one of those. With a pretty protective case, you bet I’d carry this everywhere. Even if I have to get a bigger purse. WiFi plus 3G — yes, please.

  5. chi14 says:

    NO WEBCAM…FAIL…………..

  6. iPad is an iBortion. DOA.

  7. Nic Wilson says:

    Kindle Killer? give me a break how can you compare 10 hours (max) battery life to weeks? I have not charged my kindle on over three and half weeks now and I use it daily and its still working, this oversized ipod touch will run just when you need it. I really cannot see a market for this, who is going to carry round a giant sized ipod touch that has a flat battery?

  8. Allan says:

    raise you hand if you’re dying to read books in color

  9. step21 says:

    overpriced picture frame comes to mind … really, I don’t see how it makes sense to buy one of these instead of a laptop (macbook air or something of a similiar formfactor for example)
    – typing is likely to be weird, because the on screen keyboard is way too big compared to the iphone, but you can’t touch type like with a laptop
    – if you don’t hold it like a book, you can’t really use it w/o some kind of dock/stand
    – can’t really take it to lectures/meetings instead of your laptop
    – books in ibooks seem overpriced (but so do the kindle ones)
    – w/o a dock (and there doesn’t even seem to be an adjustable dock) you can’t even use it to watch movies with someone else, unless you want to hold it all the time
    – stuff that more or less boils down to the same :)
    conclusion: really only for people who think they need another device between laptop and iphone. I predict this is a minority, or if not most people buy against better judgement, just because it’s from apple (and I do have an iphone)

  10. MIchael Bryant says:

    Have you counted the number of occurrences of the words “I”, “me” and “my” in your piece? Get some perspective.

  11. John says:

    @Michael I sure have. That was intentional. It’s driven by personal anecdote.

  12. Cory O'Brien says:

    Part of the reason I hate the hype leading up to an Apple event is that people start believing the hopes and dreams that others put out there as if they were reality, and then when Apple announces a device that lasts for 10 hours, costs $500 and runs a library of more than 130,000 apps, they’re disappointed because it doesn’t do video conferencing and automatically order your favorite pizza when you get hungry too.

    In my opinion, the iPad is a great device, and as long as you only expect it to do what Apple says it will do (experience the web, email, photos, etc.) then you wont’ be disappointed. It’s only when you start to dream of the features that you’d want to see in a magical, do all device, and then somehow imagine that Apple can just create that device and sell it to you for the cost of an off the shelf netbook that you’ll set yourself up for disappointment.

  13. Ray says:

    I think the iPad will find its audience, but don’t expect iPod-sized sales in the first year or two. They do fill the gap between MacBook and iPod Touch — not really an iPhone but with Apple opening up 3G to VoIP (such as iCall), it can be a phone.

    The issue here is people asking: why not a netbook (well, because there is no Mac netbook, silly, unless you count the hackintoshes)? Why do I need one if I already have an iPhone?

    It’s because: web surfing in the iPhone is ridiculous. Reading on an iPhone is ridiculous. Even email looks like a blur after starring at the thing for more than a few minutes. I seriously need new glasses now.

    I would LOVE myself a 10″ touchscreen device so I can actually surf the web, read, and do other things (such as playing interactive games). And with bluetooth, wifi and 3G, it is also now a real communication device.

    What I don’t like: no multitasking (really, Apple?), no camera (but every cell phone has one now, so I don’t really care), not open (I agree, Apple just wants you to buy, buy, buy more from their channels), and I assume no GPS…

    But for those who say “it’s just a over-priced picture frame” are you serious? No one buy an iPhone because it’s a phone. Apps, apps, apps! That’s what really make the iPhone the bestseller. And the apps will make iPad attractive to those who don’t really need another phone or another laptop. At $499 a pop (and I’m sure the price will drop), it is attractive.

  14. Hamish says:

    No webcam makes me feel a bit sick of apples stalling! We all no that it will happen so why wait? They have a real opportunity to simply wipe the floor again but the lack of webcam is a wopping oversight – watch what happens when a webcam version is released and you will know! And if they claim it is down to battery life then that’s just a poor excuse to steer us away from their stalling tactics. I’ll get one coz I’m a developer but I’m already frustrated dam them. We are supposed to marvel at new technology because of being in the dark about what it can do – not look at it and think ‘oh it could have been so much more’.

    I wonder if you can hook it up to your tv??? Another major missed sales opportunity for apple! You can play video from the iPhone but not the apps and I suspect this will be the same. The iPhone was/is perfectly placed to function as a controller too. Crazy the things they miss.

    Rant over

  15. Matthew Wanderer says:

    “Battelle, you’re saying you WANT one, AND that it’s going to disappoint?”

    I’m afraid that’s also my position. But I’ve not touched an iPad yet.

    iPad in theory might not win over buyers in throngs, as it does look like a fat iPhone, and might have earned irrational statements like “overpriced picture frame comes to mind”, but we all know it’s not.

    I suspect I will quickly find three-ish things I can do, and more importantly, want to do on the iPad that I can’t do on my iPhone/iTouch or my Mac, that will justify integrating it into my life (most likely at home, not on the go).

    What I think that Apple has calculated for (and what I think Apple _knows_) is that the iPad is going to absolutely KILL when users try out their favorite iPhone/iTouch apps on the iPad. Game over: “I’ll take one”.

    Combine that experience with the iPhoto app and iWorks, and who knows what else is in the UI and built-in apps that will capture our imagination, and the iPad will gain traction, and likely _evolve_ into a new way that Mac users look at personal computing on a daily basis.

  16. Robyn says:

    So the iPad has NO BUILT-IN WEBCAM???

    Obviously Job’s grey matter has succumbed to alzheimer’s; and the condition is highly contagious.

    How is it conceivable that NO ONE on the iPad design and production team missed this SMALL detail!

    Ok so the iPad can do everything under the sun but it won’t allow any video-conferencing, or permit you to make skype video calls, or let you take a picture, or invite you to shoot a video and upload it to youtube!

    What was going through Apple’s genius brains??!

    How can the iPhone and iPod have a built-in camera but NOT the iPad.

    This is beyond comprehension but obviously not beyond ignorance.

    If there is a REALLY, REALLY, REAAAALY GOOD REASON why the iPad does NOT have a built-in web-cam I’d love to hear it!

    Until then, don’t even talk to me about the iPad, since it’s nothing but an enlarged iPod/iPhone from 2-3 years ago!

    Job, your iPad is LAME!

  17. Ralf says:

    @Robyn: Yes there is a REALLY good reason for this ;-)

    Apple has NEVER build the best piece of technology. The first version of the iPhone was not that great in my view (which is why I waited for the 3GS). But Apple is a genious in paying attention to little details, which makes it fun to work with. And that is enough for many early adopters.

    When Apple will launch the next version in a couple of years, “obvious” features will be included so some people will say “Now they are getting it right” and they will buy it then.

    I think it is a pretty clever strategy to stage the product in the long-term and they have done it with nearly every product that way.

  18. ifrodo says:

    I wouldn’t be surprise if you discover that iPad does have a webcam finally (but not usable until some software is ready for it)…

    iPod Touch V2 did have Bluetooth even if it was not announced and on the tech specs at the beginning, and it was activated only with iPhone OS 3.0.

    iPad does have the necessary space on the bezel and connector on the motherboard apparently, so it’d not be surprising that it’ll have also the webcam hardware, but it may or may not have the necessary software support at launch time.

  19. nusret says:

    Definitely a Kindle killer. And to think I almost bought one of those. With a pretty protective case, you bet I’d carry this everywhere. Even if I have to get a bigger purse. WiFi plus 3G — yes, please

  20. ethan says:

    All in all it’s great. well worth the cash

  21. Jay says:

    “But Apple is a genious in paying attention to little details, which makes it fun to work with…”

    Sure, so was hitler some would say.

    “I think it is a pretty clever strategy to stage the product in the long-term and they have done it with nearly every product that way…”

    Have fun buying 4 iterations of everything Apple releases before it does what everything else already does!

    “How is it conceivable that NO ONE on the iPad design and production team missed this SMALL detail!…”

    They didn’t miss it, Steve says it’s either too confusing or no good for his marketing scheme, so you the use don’t get one! Just like all the other obvious things iCrap doesn’t do or support.

    “Until then, don’t even talk to me about the iPad, since it’s nothing but an enlarged iPod/iPhone from 2-3 years ago!”

    Bingo!

    ” Even if I have to get a bigger purse…”

    Yes, get yourself a bigger purse (man purse if necessary) for your oversized iPhone that doesn’t make calls. Hey, at least you can enjoy your 4:3 video on something that large LOL

  22. Franklin Hoffman says:

    I pre-ordered an iPad knowing full well that it does not run flash video. What I didn’t know is that most of KT Tunstall’s music videos seem to be flash only… (read “U-Tube”) including any live Black Horse and the Cherry Tree videos… except Apple’s own performance at the end of an iPod event. I know HTML-5 is coming, but I have a feeling that lack of flash right now is going to end up being a big disappointment.

  23. Hamish says:

    “Yes, get yourself a bigger purse (man purse if necessary) for your oversized iPhone that doesn’t make calls.”

    it does make calls!

    About the whole Apple stalling thing… We all know they do it – and you know what – it’s our faultthey do! If we all put up a fight and didn’t buy it until it was right then they’d never make the money to make it right. Apple have the money yes but they’d burn out fast if they released all their tricks at once. So – it’s evolution. The annoying thing is that us ever wanting humans can see further than our arms reach. So take a breath and let’s all just chill I guess :) The iPad will/is good enough. Now I’m off to water my veggie patch then to the beach for a wave – lifes other good things!

  24. dobadoy says:

    How can they have failed to put a webcam on it?? Just doesn’t make sense. With a webcam it’d be the perfect 2nd computer, without it…thumbs down from me, :q