Regardless of how you feel about the newly announced iPad, it’s probably going to do a few things very well. But will it be the reading device we’ve all been waiting for? Steve Jobs pushed the iBook store in the keynote, and discussed how the Kindle pioneered ebooks. Jobs then said Apple would “stand on [Amazon’s] shoulders”. Can it work?
The obvious benefit of the iPad is that it has a color screen. There will be more options for text size, search, and even font choices. Magazines and newspapers will look nice, but reading an old fashioned book may not benefit much. The Kindle and other eReaders have a 16 level eInk display meant to be easy to read. The screen on the iPad, being a conventional LCD, may not be quite so easy on the eyes.
Content wise, the iPad may be in good shape. Out of the gate it will have content from Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Harper Collins and Hachette. It will also support the open ePub format, which is more than we can say for Amazon. This means the iPad will have access to Google Books. The Nook has ePub support also, so it’s not a total win for Apple.
Price is certainly of concern. The iPad is clocking in at $499 for the 16GB version sans 3G. That’s quite a bit more than the Kindle and Nook at $260. To get data on the go, you need to purchase an AT&T data plan for the (more expensive) iPad, whereas the Kindle and Nook come with free wireless. Granted, the iPad does much more than eBooks, but buying it primarily as a reading device may be a questionable move.
We can all start to breathe again! Apple has finally made their long awaited, highly anticipated, rumor generating product announcement. And it’s the “iPad”. Now we can move past criticizing Apple for what it might be making, and move on to criticizing Apple for what it did make.
But let’s not be so quick in our criticism. Sure, Apple fanboys will be all over the iPad, heaping it with great praise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple got it wrong. In fact, there looks to be a lot to like in Apple’s new, little bundle of joy. It’s of reasonable size, sporting a 9.7-inch touchscreen, is a half-an-inch thick, and weights a modest 1.5 pounds. It works on the same software as the iPhone and iPod Touch--both of which have curried favor with users, and which makes the iPad immediately useable. (Developers are going to like this as well, because it won’t require much adjustment, and broadens the market potential of their products.) And it runs on an Apple designed chip, the 1GHz A4 processor, which not only provides punch, but conserves battery life.
Better yet, Apple is offering the iPad at different price-points, rather than in a take-it-or-leave-it bundle (like the Kindle). Configurations will be either Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi/3G, and offer different storage capacities: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. Price for the entry-level iPad is $499, while the top-of-the-line will cost $829.
And Apple looks to have learned some lessons from the iPhone. Data services will be provided by AT&T, on a pre-paid basis. The price for a 250MB data allowance will be $14.99 a month, while unlimited use will cost $29.99 per month. Unlike the iPhone, the iPad will have a swappable GSM micro SIM card, so iPad users can easily switch carriers.
In the announcement, Apple wanted to defuse expectations a bit. The iPad isn’t going to be the ‘device of the century’ that some had speculated. Rather, Steve Jobs made it clear the iPad was a niche product, good for web surfing, email, viewing photos, listening to music, watching videos, playing games, or reading eBooks. (A big brother of the iPod Touch, if you will.) If you want something more, says Jobs, by a computer.
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