free html hit counter I Don't Like The iPad Because... - John Battelle's Search Blog

I Don't Like The iPad Because…

By - February 27, 2010

Screen shot 2010-02-27 at 6.34.59 PM.png…it’s driven by the same old media love affair with distribution lock in. I’ve been on about this ever since I studied Google in 2001: Media traditionally has gained its profits by owning distribution. Cable carriage, network airwaves, newsstand distribution and printing presses: all very expensive, so once you employ enough capital to gain them, it’s damn hard to get knocked out.  

The web changed all that and promised that economics in the media business would be driven by content and intent: the best content will win, driven by the declared intent of consumers who find it and share it. Search+Social was the biggest wave to hit media since the printing press. And the open technology to make better and better experiences has been on a ten year tear: blogging software, Flash, Ajax, HTML 5, Android, and more and more coming.

But the iPad, just like the iPhone, is designed for vertical integration and distribution lock in. Apple is building its own distribution channel, just as it did with iTunes, and media companies are falling over themselves to make an app for that. Why? Well sure, for once, it’s sexy and cool and hip. That’s why everyone loved the Wired demo.

But the real reason media companies love the iPad is the same reason I don’t: It’s an old school, locked in distribution channel that doesn’t want to play by the new rules of search+social. Sure, you can watch a movie on it. Sure, you can read a book on it. And sure, you can read a publication on it. But if you want to use the web natively, with all the promise that the web brings to media? Not so much. Apple will include a browser, of course. But will media you find through that browser be able to interact with the iPad platform so as to bring full value to you, the consumer? Nope. Not unless that same media is approved by Apple and makes it into the iPad app store.

And that’s why I don’t like the iPad. Don’t tell me, as a media maker, what I can make and how I can leverage the technology in my audience’s hands. And don’t tell me, as a media consumer, what’s OK for me to interact with, and how.

Yep, I really don’t like what the iPad augurs. And I hope, in the end, it’s consigned to what it should be: A sexy version of a portable DVD player-cum-Kindle. Nice to have. Not a game changer. Certainly not revolutionary. Unless you’re longing for yesteryear, when owning distribution meant owning audiences. Oh, and by the way, Traditional Media Folk: This time Apple owns that distribution channel, not you.


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75 thoughts on “I Don't Like The iPad Because…

  1. LarryLo says:

    Brilliant Post!

    I never understood the appeal of media on the ipad. Almost the same stuff you get for free on the www, only now you pay for it. Its sexy hardware, but I will not get one for exactly the same reasons this article sums up.

    My question is, where are the alternatives? Who will be the anti-apple in the tablet space?

  2. Kapila says:

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. Can’t believe Tim O’Reilly thought it was worth mentioning in twitter.

  3. huxley says:

    But if you want to use the web natively, with all the promise that the web brings to media? Not so much. Apple will include a browser, of course. But will media you find through that browser be able to interact with the iPad platform so as to bring full value to you, the consumer? Nope.

    Are you talking about Flash here? Because if that’s what you mean, then come out with it.

    The native web is HTML, Javascript and CSS. Flash is just another proprietary lock-in system (see how BBC is blocking opensource SWF players from accessing iPlayer streams) and frankly just saying so doesn’t make it the native web.

    The iPad’s mobile Safari provides one of the best native non-proprietary clients for the open web, it just doesn’t give you Flash and Silverlight. Now maybe that sucks, but it’s not really about what you seem to want people to think you’re talking about.

  4. Dave says:

    Let me understand this. Neither you nor I have used the iPad yet. But you are certain that the browser on it will render all non Apple approved (really Apple stocked) media second class citizens, a worse situation than what we have now. Why will that be the case? And if “Apple approved” media, enhanced by apps, is so great that it makes all other web experiences pale next to it, isn’t that a value add for those traditional outlets that choose to deal with Apple? And a value add for consumers?

    Does Barnes and Noble sell any and all publications, including pornography? Does Amazon? Is any retailer required to carry every variety of goods in the marketplace? Does every retail buyer buy everything? Does Apple’s choice prevent its distribution elsewhere?

    The traditional media own the “presses” now – how is that working out for them?

    Non-“Apple approved” media and social networks are flourishing now in the web browser format the iPad will run, apparently beautifully and fast. How will that change? Harumph indeed. Get ready for more diversity of experience, both producing and consuming, made possible by this platform.

  5. Raul says:

    “Apple will include a browser, of course. But will media you find through that browser be able to interact with the iPad platform so as to bring full value to you, the consumer? Nope. —Why not??? (BTW, the image used for the article does not help the argument—I think the New York Times in Safari are clearly interacting.

  6. Sounds more like a person vendetta to me. It’s just another product used to access the world. You aren’t locked into anything. You can decide to use it or not to use it. And think outside of the box. I will be using the iPad as a business tool, a touchscreen terminal services connection through a secured tunnel for access to customer information and applications while on-site, without worrying about plugging it in, connecting to networks, or dealing with hassle. No other product released today has as much feasibility to achieve what I want to accomplish. Think of the iPad outside of a single market or purpose. It can and will be used by many people for many purposes, many which are unrelated to media.

  7. Scott says:

    I guess I don’t see how the iPad renders itself unique. E-Readers all require some lock-in (even the software-only e-readers).

    Apple is providing a “distribution channel” that it will try to make premium and “worth it” to its customers. There will be free options – either free apps or using a web browser. iTunes pretty well worked the same way – it would play your free mp3’s if you had them, but if you want to buy through the premium channel, you pay 99 cents (and eventually apple was able to get record labels to drop some of the copyright protections as well).

    Sometimes when we are arguing in favor of free we’re really arguing in favor of pirating (music, movies). I think people don’t see it that way with news, but probably the newspaper guys see it that way 🙂

    As the first commenter (larry) said – if the experience isn’t better than the www, then you have nothing to fear from channel lockin, and Apple won’t make money that way (and neither will media companies). (But if the experience is remarkably better than the html only experience, is that so bad? )

  8. “mobile Safari provides one of the best native non-proprietary…”

    “Non-proprietary?” Not only isn’t it *Apple’s browser,* it’s the only browser they’ll allow on the iAnythings.

    I swear, more and more, I think Apple just meant that initial “1984” Mac ad as a big middle finger to the future.

  9. “Not only is it Apple’s browser…” obviously. Sorry, distracted while typing.

  10. matt says:

    This quote seems to be the meat of the article:

    But if you want to use the web natively, with all the promise that the web brings to media? Not so much. Apple will include a browser, of course. But will media you find through that browser be able to interact with the iPad platform so as to bring full value to you, the consumer? Nope.

    You fail to explain how media found through the browser won’t have the same level of value to me on the iPad as it would on my laptop. Are you trying to say that media will only appear on the iPad through exclusivity deals, such that it will be available no where else? If so, that seems really weak. I can buy music through iTunes and sync it to my iPod, and iPad in the future. I can burn it to a CD. If I don’t want iTunes lock in, I can still go the record store and by the shiny platter.

    It seems stupid for media companies to make content available exclusively for a device they don’t control. A device that has unknown market impact, and which may actually end up being a flop. A device that is certain to be cloned in many ways.

    Even if it is a hit and fullfils its promise of truly bringing computing to the masses, its still not the only way that people are going to want to access and consume media.

    Can you take another crack at explaining why you don’t like the iPad? Most of us don’t seem to get it.

  11. Alex says:

    Hi John,

    I hear your points, but I am not seeing why this a) a lock in or b) different from other plays.

    First of, people always have other alternatives for eReaders / browsers, pads, etc. Apple lock in is a myth, we are free to go and do whatever we want ( unlike in the old windows world where there were no alternatives ).

    Secondly, this is the consequence of the economics of content. We’ve evolved to the point where content “has to be free”, but free does not pay for itself ( even with ads ), so people are looking for ways to monetize and with these new devices it has to be at the hardware level.

    iTunes is no different, imo, and it is a huge success. It solves 90% of the problem, why can’t books be this way too or blog and newspapers for that matter?

  12. caleb says:

    Well said.

    It’s mine, let me install what I want on it.

    “And I hope, in the end, it’s consigned to what it should be: A sexy version of a portable DVD player-cum-Kindle. Nice to have. Not a game changer.”

    I hope that the platform opens up.

  13. Thomas says:

    Amen. Apple used to be about the alternative to big brother. Now it is big brother in its arrogance and its ruthless demand for control. It is great hardware and software shackled by an over arching singular mindset of centralized mgmt and control of what you view and how you you use it.

    It is always so funny to me how Apple folks are so sensitive to the least bit of criticism about their beloved products. How can there be any discussion/criticism in such an environment?

    Great article!

  14. mrg says:

    i like you john battelle. You are starting to sound like an old crotchety BSD elitist freegan.

    Just like we all knew BSD (or even Linux) is a better OS, the herds went to Windoze pastures. Last time i checked, sheep were not so enlightened, and just as surely as they gaze in to windows, they will eat apples.

  15. Chipotle says:

    @Robert Lee: Not having a choice of rendering engines to render HTML — which all rendering engines should render in, you know, more or less the same way — is comparable in some direct way to authoritarian dystopia. Right then.

    Sorry, but while Apple’s policies for application installs on the iP* devices have definite problems to be concerned about, there’s a lot of peculiarly apocalyptic talk about it. On my iPhone I can visit any web site that I want to, I can read any document I can get onto it (which I can do in a variety of methods), and in practice the number of applications that I can’t get that I might want — and that Apple’s policies have prevented me from getting — is extremely small. (And people tend to blithely disregard the promise of web apps, which can very easily be made “peers” of the other apps on the iPhone, even including running in offline mode with persistent local data storage.)

    Of course, the implication that Mr. Battelle made, that iTunes is a “locked in” system, is — how shall we say — not entirely accurate. One has always been able to use media other than Apple-provided media with iTunes and iPods, and given that Apple’s made a point of mentioning that they’re using the EPub book format, one suspects that’s not going to change now.

  16. Cute Addict says:

    content makers simply have to code their media for html5 rather than flash and it will work on the ipad. just like youtube is doing. if you’re running a streaming video site (*cough* hulu) you should already be working on switching because like it or not this is the future.

    of course some companies would rather cripple their sites for the ipad and then make you buy the app. that game only works if you have no competition though.

  17. daedana says:

    Apple might not like it, but HTML5 will change a lot. I’ve used flash on my laptop a lot and it’s draining the battery quite efficiently. So in that light I do understand why leaving flash out even seems like a good thing.

    I also read a watched a really good video on this flash topic. You can find a link to it from here , it really gave me a new idea on how to view this.

  18. mj says:

    Of course I wonder why O’Reilly promoted this post – but I’m going to address it quickly.

    It’s a transition device. Apple was very careful to position the iPod and their whole ITunes system on the borderline between old school DRM demands and the future of DRM-free. Every MP3 player I owned before iPod converted my DRM-free MP3s into some cockamamie proprietary Windows Media nonsense. The iPod just accepted everything I threw at it AND made it easy for me to work with buying new stuff. It straddled old and new.

    And how quickly we forget how bad the buying experience was before iTunes. How it was one device, expensive, sub-only. Apple broke the mold and others imitated. Our current desire for accessible DRM-free media may not be impossible to achieve but it was Apple who took the first bold steps.

    The iPad will do the same for ePub. It will also help us get to the point where we’re paying for content andnot just paying for wood pulp, warehouse space and trucks to move the wood pulp around (the business model of the book, newspaper and magazine industries).

    Maybe the iPad isn’t for you but my prophesy is that in hindsight it will be another bold move, another step that brought us from pressing chemical ink onto wood pulp and ushered in an appreciation of the content itself. It’ll help democratise books, create new magazine experiences, deliver world news right into our laps.

    And it’ll work simply because they’ll be the first to do it.

    Lock in? With most modern mobile devices using the WebKit engine, we will enjoy a lock-in free web experience for those who want it. This will only improve as Google gets their game on with Chrome. At last we have an engine lightweight enough to run on almost everything. And the first move of future designers will be to bud the standards layer first, a semantic HTML5/CSS3 layer which can be read by anything rather than relying on a proprietary plug-in.

  19. John, I understand and agree. So does Google, naturally, and Google is strong enough to prevent Apple from having their way with all the interesting content in the world. However, if the iPad proves popular, Google may have to get into the tablet business, just as they’ve had to get into the phone business. Indeed, I presume they’re already working on it.

  20. Arne says:

    i was dreaming about this tonight! my dream was about, how “content” or “shared items” (from louis gray;-) goes around the web in waves, tweets or buzzes or in whatever it takes to get found, or in what the creator had once decided to set it’s baby free… and there is a huge demand for or to take over control of this process…

    but there is a even bigger chance – that we invent, reinvent and evolve or even revolutionize the way we share, what we are able to create in our short livetimes!

    the risk, that the created content don’t pay back it’s creation costs (and keep us warm and well-fed!), is and will be always stay with the creator itself. and yes, ok, its depended on some written and unwritten rules or laws of the society we where born into!

    but not and never is the risk with the channel owners or the (content-) consumer itself, because they are just in charge for the pay back of their very own creations!

    woke up, deeply touched…

  21. Jon Norris says:

    Yep, I really don’t like what this John Battelle augurs. And I hope, in the end, he’s exposed for what he really is: Another loud mouth blogger-entrepreneur-journalist-professor-founder-and-executive-producer-of-conferences-in-the-media-technology-communications-and-entertainment-social-media-expert with a overestimated amount of self importance. Not a game changer. Certainly not revolutionary. Just one of about a million other loud mouths with a web site, twitter account and facebook page and more than a few chips on their shoulders.


  22. Arne says:

    my problem is: i really meant, what i wrote up there!

  23. Ward Mundy says:

    Great article. You hit the nail on the head. Ignore the Apple Fanboys. They’re always tedious.

  24. Carsten says:

    what a weak argument. what a waste of my time.

    so please what is the argument against the ipad? i assume the age old complaint that apple checks each app before selling it. that is supposed to pose a roadblock for new media, while not for old media. so why then are there thousands of new app developers selling their apps on the apps store?

    seems like a post that was designed only to drive traffic to the site

  25. Do you think George Bush was a miserable failure? I do, as did innumerable others. If you are against companies censoring the content, then you should speak out against it more vociferously — even when it’s Google that’s doing the censoring.

    The Financial Times quoted Julia Holtz Julia Holtz, the company’s senior competition counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa: ”We’re hopeful we can convince them not to pursue this further.” I doubt the antitrust review of Google that’s on the verge of starting in Brussels will not be impressed — and if they were, then that too would be a miserable failure.

    🙂 nmw

  26. oops: double negative — correction:

    Do you think George Bush was a miserable failure? I do, as did innumerable others. If you are against companies censoring the content, then you should speak out against it more vociferously — even when it’s Google that’s doing the censoring.

    The Financial Times quoted Julia Holtz Julia Holtz, the company’s senior competition counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa: ”We’re hopeful we can convince them not to pursue this further.” I doubt the antitrust review of Google that’s on the verge of starting in Brussels will be impressed — and if they were, then that too would be a miserable failure.

    🙂 nmw

  27. You’re like a month behind on this. More interesting ideas put forward here:

  28. noThanks says:

    Apple will include a browser, of course. But will media you find through that browser be able to interact with the iPad platform so as to bring full value to you, the consumer? Nope. Not unless that same media is approved by Apple and makes it into the iPad app store.

    To be clear, what media are you referring to exactly that can be found on the web but that won’t work on the iPhone? I

  29. prince says:

    There is still no word on what this means for other e-book vendors in the iPhone store. Will eReader, Stanza, Kobo, and other apps be dropped from the store, or have new iPad-native versions refused?

  30. paul says:

    Flash isn’t the only thing that wont work. Keep in mind you can’t download files through the browser and into various programs. Until they add generic file storage, it’ll be second rate to other browsers. Link to a file (roms, various media, documents, etc) for an apparently on your phone? Can’t download with iPhone safari and most likely the same with he ipad.

    This is a great article. Those who don’t realize the danger and how we’re stepping backwards are blinded by blind loyalty for apple. Its blatantly obvious so not seeing it as such must imply this bias. It’s a.neat device and will prod other companies to compete, so its good in that aspect, but just like with the iPhone, better completion will be there for those who understand the real factors out there.

  31. shehab says:

    apple’s increasingly closed standards do go against the promise of a freer internet with more media consumption choice.

    however in mobile, the custom built apps often have an edge over the native web with current browser technologies. they often offer a richer UI experience. this gap my close but in the meantime users’ mobile habits are changing.

    most interesting re: ipad are the UI innovations that i expect to come both from apple and app developers. luckily those innovations should be easily mimicked on more open, competing mobile and tablet devices.

  32. Davis says:

    The iPad will have a camera with video chat capabilities soon, HTML5 is a good workaround for Flash, there are a bunch of cool accessories, the price will come down in a year or two, more memory will be added, some new apps may even fix other issues like limited multitasking and cross-device/cross-platform compatibility problems.

    While it’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread, it’s a winner. One who’s potential at this point is endless.

    iPad news and updates:

  33. Mike Cane says:

    This is silly. Did iPhone have YouTube access? Yes. Didn’t even Veoh create an app so people could access its site? Yes. No doubt Hulu will too (and I doubt it will be All Pay All The Time because that is a big FAIL).

    And you miss the point about *books*. Writers will finally have something that is book-sized. There is nothing to stop writers from directly selling to that huge potential audience. Sure, there will be an extra step — in the beginning — to transfer those books from the desktop to an iPad via USB, but the future us huge for that. And you can hardly call individual writers Tools of The Man.

  34. dazbert says:

    I agree, Apple’s lock-in strategy has serious implications for creators and is surely bad for consumers.

    The biggest problem is that the media’s love affair does tend to make it a game-changer all the same. Then people start making apps and what-not only for the iPhone, and if you don’t buy into it you are missing out on that content. Your favorite newspaper? There’s an app for that. But probably not if you’re on Palm, Blackberry or Android.

    So it’s fine to say, ‘Well if you don’t like it, just don’t buy one,’ but that won’t prevent it from having an adverse impact on you.

  35. Al says:

    You say:

    “I will be using the iPad as a business tool, a touchscreen terminal services connection through a secured tunnel for access to customer information and applications while on-site, without worrying about plugging it in, connecting to networks, or dealing with hassle. “

    How do you plan to do that? You only get to install applications that Apple approves on your iPad. Is your tunneling app apple approved? If not, better rethink your strategy.

  36. the dude says:

    I love how the guy arguing against Apple’s closed system mentality has a picture of his desk with lots of Apple computer gear on it.

  37. Brad says:

    I worry about the media lockin too. But I think I will wait and see what happens after it is released. Most of our worries might disappear.

  38. fred wilson says:

    it never ceases to amaze me how the apple fanboys come out in force whenever someone blogs negatively about apple

  39. Dan Elam says:

    It’s a valid point to some degree, but doesn’t really address the real world. Where is the outrage over Comcast buying NBC (and a lot more)? Or Time Warner buying cable companies? Or Google as the ultimate aggregator and portal? Apple might control the platform, but at least they aren’t going to control the content in the publications. In the end, I think the value-proposition of creating a platform for the masses means that the media companies can communicate with more people than ever before – and that is a good thing. A Windows platform isn’t going to cut it and nearly every paper distribution medium is in decline. Yes, Apple has an opportunity to be a big part of how the world consumes content, but at least they will be consuming.

  40. Joe Mescher says:

    I love posts like this because they stir up so much heated debate from both sides of the aisle!

  41. Ken Hansen says:

    What, you don’t like Newton 2.0? For me it was a non-starter based on it’s dorky “incredibly swollen iPhone” looks…

    What does this have that a 10-12″ netbook doesn’t – an Apple logo and corporate control of content local to the device. This will help netbook sales, not hurt them – IMHO.

  42. Ken Hansen says:

    This device will bring about the resurgence of the “man purse” (how else to carry it?), which will lead to the Apple Fan Boys getting humiliated for their “man purse”, and the product will generally fail, except in those markets where a “man purse” is acceptable…

  43. Ken Hansen says:

    Sorry, last post, promise!

    Regarding lock-in, you need only look at the iPod to see how they will treat the iPad. The iPod works marvelously with apple-supplied itunes music, and it will accept your own personal MP3s, but they are treated as second-class items. Personal MP3s are tolerated on the iPod – you almost have to work against the very nature of the iPod to get MP3s on the device,and once on the iPod, you can’t share, upload, or transfer your own MP3 from the iPod to a different computer. MP3s only sync TO the iPod, never FROM the iPod.

  44. kevin says:

    @fred wilson: Is everyone who defends an Apple product or position an Apple fanboy? Are you too intellectually lazy to put forward a cogent argument or counter-argument that you have to dismiss most of those “fanboy” arguments as Apple fanboys?

    The strategy you’ve chosen with your comment is the loser strategy in any debate – even in middle school.

  45. Phil-Am says:

    This post is interesting. Interaction is really great.

    I salute to John who posted this topic!

  46. Alex says:

    Thank you for telling it how it is. I TOO agree, it’s not revolutionary, and nothing to run wild in the streets about. For heaven’s sake, Apple can make a popcorn machine and people go crazy- its all about the brand. The kindle came out first, for reading pdfs and ebooks, its great.
    COMANIES- instead of wasting money and time making these “new” products which are essentially application system clusters disguised as cool new gadgets, SPEND that money making your laptops thinner or cooler, so that like JOHN also implies, it can do MORE, like surf ANY and ALL THE WEB, and basically just be like a clipboard/laptop. (PS an why is thinner considered better) How thin will these gadgets go before the dissolve on the tip of our tongues, or break if it’s not properly “docked”. =/

  47. Rick says:

    What else are we supposed to do? no one makes nice devices, except for Apple.

    So until someone gives us a nice device that also happens to be to be open…

    well, then we’re stuck with this closed stuff.

  48. Chipotle says:

    @fred wilson: It never ceases to amaze me how anyone who says anything positive about Apple is definitionally a “fanboy.” Actually, I kid. It ceased to amaze me long ago. What you see is fanboys, I guess. What I see are a lot of comments like…

    @ken: For Pete’s sake, you think Apple has made it difficult to get MP3s into iTunes? Ripping from your own CDs by putting them in the drive and clicking “import” is insanely difficult? Dragging them from the desktop is really tough? Buying them from Amazon and having them automatically imported and added to the library is arcane and confusing? I can’t even figure out how to make sense of that.

    At any rate, I think there’s an awful lot of “I don’t like what (I think) the iPad represents because it’s not what I’m used to” going around. If the iPad flops, there will be a lot of “see, I told you so,” but it’ll probably be even worse if it succeeds. Pundits have been asking “what comes after the desktop” for nearly two decades now, and this may not be *the* answer — but it’s the first major attempt to come up with *any* answer.

    “But it’s closed! It’s a trap! It’s a toy!” … see, I heard a lot of these arguments about the Mac, originally. That it didn’t have a command line interface (before OS X) was absolute heresy. Macs were useless because you couldn’t do what you want! You couldn’t put what you wanted on it! You couldn’t program it! Yadda yadda yadda. That there were clearly people doing all those things with their Macs just made the naysayers more resolute in naysaying, from what I can tell.

    Look: none of us really know for sure what the iPad will be like when it ships, let alone what it might be like in two or three years. I don’t know if it’s going to be “magical and revolutionary,” but I’m pretty sure that blowing it off as a full-color, prettier Kindle is profoundly missing the point.

  49. MarkH says:

    will media you find through that browser be able to interact with the iPad platform so as to bring full value to you, the consumer? Nope.

    The gap between native apps and web is narrowing. HTML5 ensures web-delivered content can be stored locally for offline use, can create a local database, can access (with user permission) device location info. CSS styles can control platform-specific animation features etc.
    The big plus from the content provider’s perspective is also targetting multiple devices with the same technology.

  50. Josh says:

    You old web guys crack me up. So reactionary! I understand what you’re saying about lock-in, John. But I think you’re mistaken about some things.

    For starters, the iPad is a pretty excellent way to browse the Web. Not sure if you got to play with it at the unveiling last month, but it handled web sites better than my desktop/laptop. It’s really maximized for web browsing—the Flash canard notwithstanding. If the iPad takes off, it’ll cause lots of web-based media to evolve and be more beautiful—taking advantage of a big, touch screen.

    From the content creators’ standpoint, then, the only real question is: Do we build native “web apps”—since HTML5-supporting Safari ships on it, we could easily avail ourselves of that platform—or should we build “Apple apps?”

    The advantage for most media companies right now I think lies with Apple (and other) downloadable, native apps, because we can deliver a far richer experience than we can on the Web. The Web, after all, loves a persistent connection and that’s still a problem in many places where our media is consumed (airplanes and subways anyway, though bathrooms tend to be pretty wired. 🙂 )

    The Web is great for the media that were born there—blogs and so on. But for richer, bigger bandwidth experiences, the iPad looks like a pretty great place for old media to start.

  51. not to worry says:

    while i share your thoughts around why media companies are salivating over the iPad, it’s not just the distribution lock in (which btw is not under the media company’s control but Apple’s) but the new type of experience where media companies believe people will start paying for content again. it reminds me a bit of what AOL was years ago during its period of growth – it brought something that was too techie to the mass market. that is what the iPad will probably do for the tablet space.

    however, i do believe in continuous innovation and that, eventually, open will win over the iPad’s closed system. we have seen it happen time and again. it’s just that we are at the cycle where a very well designed closed system happens to hit the mark with a significant amount of consumers. longer term though, the “Android/Windows” approach may yet prove to be more resilient. in my opinion, Apple does not have as much of a lock into the online distribution ecosystem as you attribute in your post. not yet at least.

    furthermore, rather than directly owning distribution, old media is playing its hand through copyright extensions and IP legal action that effectively control content distribution (through any player for that matter) without having to own the device or pipes. in my opinion, the current legal framework protects old media more than emerging ‘closed’ device ecosystems. that arose, in part, from this ancient relic of a copyright system that we have. it’s probably partly why Comcast bought NBC

  52. Ron says:

    Actually, a most native iPlatform capabilities are available via javascript. In fact, websites can be built that are, except for how they load, indistinguishable from apps.

    The valuable tradeoff in opting for app-etizing your content is the mobile DNA that somehow makes it acceptable to pay for content. This is the potential game-changer, advancing beyond a marketplace fuly dependent upon advertising and dubious freemium services. And it’s why there will be a rush to the platform by both publishers and buyers.

  53. Chet says:

    Single channel is precisely why I like the iPad and iTunes. I know exactly where to go if I have problems with the devise. Also, as a single channel, Apple must keep the quality high. I also like Apple as a single channel because the Apple forums are superb.

  54. Ed says:

    I’m not sure what’s more pathetic about this post. The fact that it took you a full month to get this written or that it’s such a curmudgeonly rant with barely an argument behind it.

  55. Jeff says:

    Distribution models aside…

    As long as web developers are in love with Flash, and Steve Jobs hamstrings it’s integration into both iPhone and iPad, Apple will continue to deliver broken content.

    Combined with Apple censorship and arrogance the iPad is neither sufficiently appealing to me nor a strong enough game changer to purchase or recommend.

    I’m inclined to either wait a few months to a couple of years for competitive offerings that provide open source app development and full and uncensored access to content, or, wait until the first iPad is jailbroken before acquiring one.

  56. e-head says:

    Just about spot on, but I think the biggest threat is not in controlling the media, but in controlling the apps that enable the media.

    I should be able to program, compile, and load my own apps, and download any useful apps I might find, anywhere on the web… not just from Apple.

    The iPad is seriously condescending to the consumer, and Apple hand holding at it’s worst.

  57. bigjobsboard says:

    Actually, iPad is like an over-sized iPhone for me. The media just made the ipad a big issue so the sales would be a little amplified. i think the iPad should be revised some more for further development and much more sales.

  58. Paul says:

    I think you’re right, from the point of view of the control of distribution; that is, old school vs. new school. I’m a musician, and I’ve thought about this a lot.

    There are a few points to follow from your article, but here’s one. Your arguments matter most to creators and distributors of content. They do not matter at all to the consumer, the end user. Yeah, I’m locked into a distribution channel, but so what? It looks the same to me. I pay money, I get something. To the end user, there’s no difference.

    Here’s another. The brilliance of Apple’s iTunes is that you get a variation of a vertically integrated distribution channel, but it’s better in two ways:
    1. I (consumer) don’t have to buy the whole album to get the one or two tunes I want.
    2. It’s convenient enough and cheap enough for me to avoid using a P2P app to steal, I mean, acquire it.

  59. Bruce DeBoer says:

    There are no rules. There is a law of cash flow but no new rules or old rules.

    Old media folks like it because it’s a channel through which their businesses might be able to thrive. What’s the problem with that.

  60. yea..i don’t really like the ipad too, but it appeals to all the apple fans.

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  62. Adam says:

    Think you have misunderstood the transformative potential of apps on the ipad/phone


    Media on the iPad will be much more enactive, much more intentional (to use one of Battelle’s key categories) than traditional media consumption. Media consumption on the iPad will be much more social, more shared and more communicative than traditional media devices.

  63. Henry 3 Dogg says:

    John. You say it’s

    “A sexy version of a portable DVD player-cum-Kindle.”

    Perhaps you should stick to thinking. Don’t worry, lack of a brain shouldn’t set you back any further than the lack of a DVD slot would set the iPad back as a DVD player.

  64. Xackr says:

    You mean if I get music on the iPad the musician who created it will get paid for their work!!!! Outrageous!!! They should give it to me for free because I’m so cool.

    What authors are going to get paid?

    This is really restrictive! I think I’ll make a podcast about this and put it on iTunes – which I can do for FREE! Or maybe post a movie on YouTube which will play on the iPad. Oh crap dude – your blog totally doesn’t make any sense now.

    Oh I know! I’ll write a great little “Punch the Monkey to Lower Your Mortgage” Flash game to show how limited the iPad is. That’ll show Jobs.

  65. Fill says:

    It’s basically a big iPod Touch… which is exactly what a lot of people want. Not to say that I will get one unless somebody pays me to write a app for it or something.

  66. Exactly what does the iPad do that I can’t do on my G4 PowerBook or even my 10 y/o tablet PC running Win2000?

    Well, the iPad does try to get you locked into buying content only from Apple so you really don’t own it, can have it remotely deleted, and cannot transfer it to another device.

    On my laptop and tablet, I have mt almost 900 ebooks, all d/l for free, movies, games, and my own pictures and videos. Both can have actual keyboards, USB ports and more. I own everything on them and nothing can be deleted or otherwise controlled by Apple, Amazon or anyone else.

    iPad? I think that Apple has a huge worm in it.

  67. J Forbes says:

    All he means is that, you can’t download files through the browser.

    Say you go to a music blog on your iPad or iPhone, and a band is giving their album away for free as a free download on the website But you aren’t able to download it.

    He’s not talking about the inability to use flash, the app approval process, the lack of real bluetooth, access to the storage within the device.

    The iPad is a computer, as Steve Jobs said “Everything is a computer”. The iPhone is a computer as well.

    But to achieve the simplicity, to make the product so successful and accessible, higher functionality is stricken from the device, and delegated to third party apps that or may not be approved.

    If you like your iPad or want an iPad then that is sweet. There is no problem with that. But this blogger still makes a fair point. The natural ebb and flow of the internet doesn’t exist on the iPad. Share and Share alike.

  68. Emily says:

    A sexy DVD player/kindle alone would make it worth the money.

    Have you ever traveled on a plane with a toddler?

    Portable DVD player batteries hardly last more than three hours. Carrying a DVD player plus all of my son’s DVDs is super annoying.

    Plus it carries my books as well as my toddler’s INTERACTIVE books.

    Plus it has tons of apps for my Toddler. The kindle cannot compare.

    Yes, some content would be free online, but guess what? You can’t always be online. Instead of relying on spotty 3G or what about planes where there is no Internet? I can download everything I need before we leave.

    The ipad can actually withstand a toddler’s prying fingers. It fits in my diaper bag.

    I agree apple should not be the only middleman, and that will eventually change. But don’t hate Apple. Be disappointed in the competitor’s who have obviously not kept competitive.

  69. John says:

    3 million units sold in the first 3 months, 18-25 million estimated to be sold in 2011, the iPad isn’t going anywhere but up.

  70. MaggieB says:

    With iOS 4.2 on the horizon with AirPrint, multitasking and more the iPad is in a better position than when you wrote the article… I hope you have come around because the Apple iPod, in its various versions, is here to stay.

  71. Gary says:

    It is amazing to sit here months later and realize how off base most of the people disliking the iPad actually are. I would think it is much better to comment after the product has been out for awhile. Not make baseless assumptions of your automatic dislikes.

    Now excuse me while I have to captcha to leave a comment on this post because the proprietors/ writer of this website so opposed to anonymous posting and wants me to drm my comments. Hypocritical and laughable all in one.

  72. I have to captcha to leave a comment on this post

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  74. Jack says:

    I bought an iPad 3 last month. It’s faulty and I hate iOS. I can’t believe I fell for the hype. I feel conned. My iPad is going back to the store tomorrow and I’m getting a full refund.