Thoughts On The iPad
The iPad is finally here. I was waiting with a lot of skepticism, but now that it's released, I'm actually kind of a fan. Actually, I'm a big fan. Here's why.
The iPad is not the end game. Capacitive touch computing is. The world of computing is entering a new era where the way we interact with computers will primarily be through touch. During the nascent stages of Windows, Bill Gates boldly proclaimed that one day using pc computers will be as natural and easy as using the telephone. The only reason why I know this is because my mother would quote this all the time growing up when I was doing BASIC programming and switching floppy drives every so often to play games. That "one day" has just come a little bit closer.
Sure, the only people that will feel using the iPad is easy and natural are iPhone and iPod Touch users, but that population will grow. Children under the age of 2 already know what it means to flip through pages on the iPhone. It's only a matter of time when people will expect for all their computing devices to respond to touch.
The other reason why I'm a big fan is because Apple and the iPad, as Nicholas Carr points out, is bringing in a new era of computing in which "media and software have merged in the cloud." We will no longer need our data, be it music, video, photos or documents, to be stored locally on our devices. Everything will be on the cloud, if it's not already. My music lives in Lala, my mail is GMail, my photos reside in Flickr, and my files are in Dropbox. If I have a device that allows me to access these things, in essence, I won't need a traditional PC any more.
Now there are some downsides to the iPad. Peter Kirn points out that the iPad, like other Apple devices, is built on a closed platform. It has proprietary ports, has a closed ecosystem in the form of iTunes and the App Store, and Apple controls both the hardware, software, and distribution channel.
And what about the AT&T data plan? $14.99 a month for up to 250MB. $29.99 for unlimited data. I already pay exorbitant amounts for my iPhone plan, and for my DSL connection at home. To add another data plan for another device would mean I'm potentially paying up to 3 times the amount just to access a Youtube video, or to read the New York Times online. The internet is really not free.
I would love to see someone revolutionize the way we pay for information on the internet. If it were up to me, I'd like to pay one low price to get internet access on all my devices and locations. In fact, I'd like a tiered plan. If I want to only consume 500MB a month, then why can't I choose to consume that 500MB on any device that I own? Now that, will be the new era of computing.