The biggest tablet maker – other than GlaxoSmithKline – announced the latest version of their best-selling drug nearly a week back: the new iPad.
I’ve never been an Apple fundamentalist; that is, one of those people who will sleep at the front door of an Apple Store overnight to await orgasm at holding the latest iProduct. In fact I only own one Apple product and that was gifted to me, the very nice iPod Classic. I’ve always respected Apple but could never buy into the culture as it does seem a little elitist and zany.
But I have to respect them for making good products and marketing them well. They aren’t the top tech company right now for selling things people don’t want, even if they seem to do more well with their consumer electronics range rather than their traditional line of Mac computers.
I’ve long felt an indifference to the iPad and similar tablets (particularly Android ones as I demo’d one and was unimpressed by the hardware of a cheap sort, and had been only marginally impressed by the OS) as I didn’t really get their appeal. When the first iPad debuted it was an evolutionary response to the cheap netbooks which flooded the market. Netbooks which, despite no touchscreen, came with USB ports, better storage and generally more functionality. But, from observing a friend’s iPad 2 – someone who has become an Apple junkie now, somewhat – I can see the charm of a tablet as a consumption device. If a particular computing session you have doesn’t demand much mouse or keyboard work the iPad is a pretty fine entertainment device for looking at websites and videos, and perhaps even wasting time with some useful or not so useful apps. The higher resolution on the latest iPad even makes it a better ebook reader than it was. I doubt it’ll trample the Kindle’s dominance for this usage, but it should place Apple’s ebook store as a strong second to Amazon’s.
Later this year Microsoft will be releasing their own range of tablets, and from what I’ve seen, Windows 8 looks very good (I highly rate Windows Phone). They should give Apple the competition that Google really didn’t. However, the pitfall Microsoft has is making sure they have good hardware partners. Part of Android’s failure is lacklustre hardware, and if that fate befalls Windows 8, I just don’t see anyone touching Apple’s dominance.
One childish thing about Apple’s vision is that they believe that we are moving into a post-PC world. I don’t think, at least foreseeably, that we’re going to see the end of desktops and laptops, as these are needed to produce content. You’re not going to sort photos, compose an album, make a website, produce a video or write a book on a tablet; it might be possible in future, but not for a little while at least. If Apple really believed that now, they would take the axe to their own Mac range. After all, Macs are personal computers too.
That said, Apple do seem to be leading the path away from the idea that the traditional computer is your only computing experience.