I didn’t preorder an iPad, nor did I line at 6:00 AM at the Apple Store to get one, but as it turns out, Apple knew a lot of people were going to want them and the stores were well-stocked. At 4:00 yesterday afternoon I walked into the Upper West Side Apple Store and picked up a first-generation 16Gb Apple iPad.
When the device was first announced I (like many) had an initially underwhelmed reaction. “It’s a big iPod Touch”, I thought. “I already have a Macbook Pro, an iPhone and a Kindle – why do I need this?”
I woke up about two days later and realized that this was the wrong question. First of all, NEED is rarely the right frame for a new gadget anyway. But aside from that, what I realized is that the iPad would do most of the non-telephone things my iPhone did (web, video, games, ineracting with data via native apps) but better. And now that I have one, that’s my early observation. It is, in fact, basically a giant iPod Touch. And that’s pretty awesome.
A few initial observations and things that seem likely to be either big deals or medium deals to new iPad owners:
- Apps are more expensive. I think developers realized that getting trapped in a consumer expectation that apps cost $0.99 is avoidable. Most of the apps are $5. Many are $10 or even $15. And yet the nature of the iPad is such that I suspect people are going to pay, because one’s ability to interact with some of these apps might have felt trivial on a phone but not here. A good example is MLB At Bat, which is $15. As a big fan of a non-local team (SF Giants), this app is like Gamecast on Steroids, plus I can actually watch the games streamed. That’s a big deal to me and easily worth $15. Lots of other apps will engender similar anlyses.
- You will need a film and a case for this. It’s a magnet for smudged fingerprints and the form factor is (as originally criticized by early commentators) awkward enough that you might drop it at some point.
- Netflix for the iPad (and video in general) is a big deal. As someone who, ahem, rarely tries to open a macbook pro in a coach airline seat, the notion of video on the iPad is highly significant. Netflix on demand is compelling.
- I’m still not convinced this is serious tool for work. Apple is trying to push their office productivity apps, but even with a keyboard and a stand color me somewhat skeptical that this emerges as a real use case. As a side note, however, it’s really something to see word, spreadsheet and presentation apps being sold for $10 given what Microsoft continues to charge for desktop versions of Office.
- And a question mark – the iPhone-using world is crazy for location-based services right now. I’m fascinated to see how (and if) this translates to the early iPad user community. My instinct is that apps that are more about single-purpose actions (like checking in) will continue to exist more on the mobile devices, whereas apps that encourage more interaction with data or other users (games, conversations) will migrate rapidly to the iPad.
My early conclusion is that this is a really cool device. I’m going to love watching video on it, playing the occasional game, browsing the web and interacting with data in much the same way I do on my iPhone but better. And, having said that, I strongly suspect that a subsequent post 45 or 60 days in will go on to describe all the things I’m doing with this device that I hadn’t thought of the day after I bought it.