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The Not-So-Great iPad List

Jun 28, 2010 | By Bob Wolff | 0 Comments

Topics: Technology, Industry Insights, iPad, Apple

Filtering through vitriolic, politicking and I-speak-before-I-think pundits (legitimate and self-appointed), spouting everything bad about the iPad, is almost as hard as getting a straight, unbiased, not-paid-for-by-lobbyists answer from a puppet politician (or reading this sentence).

But after much effort, the Not-So-Great iPad List has been sifted out. This will surely not be the end of debate. (If you have Good or Bad iPad Items to add, please add them at the end of the post.)

Most complaints seem to result from unmet expectations. What you and I expect is not some wild-eyed dream. Within a market or community, expectations are set by companies and by the activities of consumers. Because Apple has been a marketing innovator for decades, you would expect Mr. Jobs and Friends to understand that they set expectations for iPad through their past revolutionary and exceptional products - iPod, iTouch, iPhone, Macintosh. People expected something amazing, but feel they got an oversized iPod with the iPhone operating system, and fewer capabilities than found in previous devices.

Here's the Not-So-Great iPad List. Laugh and cry as your heart tells you.

Multimedia -- Promoting iPad as a multimedia device, and then forbidding Flash to ever darken the space of any iPad, kind of kills the whole campaign. Flash is a major component of millions of web sites. That Flash is as much a power vampire as lobbyists are with Congress is not the issue. If users (like voters) understand the consequences -- power drain and hacker holes --then Mr. Jobs should accept his customer's intelligence. In Marketing, like Politics, perception is reality. Just ask a political operative, lobbyist, propagandist or politician. (Are all of these "titles" synonyms?)

Performance and hardware shortcomings also affect iPad's value as a multimedia device.

Input and Output -- These compliants start with the lack of widescreen support (only 4:3 screen ratio) and no HDMI out connections for playing HD videos downloaded from iTunes on your TV. (If you're a un-capitalist nut, you will say this is because Mr. Jobs wants you to buy an AppleTV.)

Add to these issues the plethora of required adapters. Imagine, you need an adapter for a USB connection. Also, why would you not have SD card support? This connection issue makes many wonder if the iPad should be given away free because you'll be paying every month to get access to your files, magazines, books, movies, etc. Ever heard of "Give Away The Razor, Sell the Blades"?

Finally, Mr. Jobs disappoints actual and would-be iPadists with his touchscreen keyboard. Discounting complaints about "big" and "ugly", the real problem is trying to use it in real life situations like lounging on a couch or leaning against a tree. This makes you wonder if Mr. Jobs and Friends really understand the iPad. It is an untethered, cradle-in-one-hand-arm device that relies on most used communication tool -- the index finger. Ploddingly touching and lifting your finger from one key to the next is tedious and slow. Under the control of most human beings, the index finger can move pretty quick but rarely with 24-carat precision movement.

This complaint will probably be fixed sooner than others. Alternative keyboards and "swiping" apps, already available for iPhone, Android and other devices, will likely become available as fast as Apple decides to bless them into the App Store. You can also expect more gesture apps to make your finger happy.

Reading -- Paying extra to get online or relying on WiFi to be able to buy a book or subscribe to a magazine or newspaper rubs harshly against the deeply rooted fundamental fairness people expect. We all abhor being nickeled-and-dimed. Combined with the Input and Output complaints above, Apple and AT&T may find themselves learning marching techniques -- "About Face!" -- as competition heats up around Christmas. Or Apple may simply accept an "elitist" customer base who have high discretionary income and don't care about hundreds of dollars flowing to Apple and Friends every month. (Honey, do you have a dollar to play the lottery?)

In addition, seemingly everyone who reads a screen complains about eyestrain caused by the iPad. Its bright LCD screen is one issue. Another is screen glare when reading outside  and from overhead lights in offices.

As one anonymous commenter, claiming to be a frustrated, life-long 'Apple-ist', said on a forum, "Jobs and his people need to come down about a hundred floors in their ivory tower to see the real world. I expect more for my loyalty."

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What do you think?
Got an iPad?
What are you using it for?
What is your dream app for iPad?

Bob Wolff
The Author

Bob Wolff

Bob Wolff is Director of Business Partnerships at BQE Software. He began his career in public accounting and went on to start a consulting firm, Fresh Eyes, providing technology, marketing, sales, support, strategic and tactical planning, and executive coaching to various professional services firms until he joined BQE Software in 2004. His greatest joys are his wife, Dayleen, his dogs, Roxie and Wilson, writing science fiction, and helping BQE grow.

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