Why the iPad matter

or “It’s not the change, but it’s the seed of it”

So Apple announced yesterday their new product, the iPad. Some people call it table, some people call it a big iPhone/iPod touch, some call it “balloon boy”…

But, in the end, it’s a game changer. Not directly, but it put the seed to change a lot of stuff.

PDAs
If you had any hope PDAs would come back, well, forget it. Although most of the smart phones have PDA features, their small screen isn’t so good for most of the stuff the “real” PDAs do. The iPad big screen (compared to most smart phones), with it’s non-really-tiny keyboard (even being virtual) kills most of it.

Kindle
The Kindle seems to be the first target of the iPad and Jobs even said the iPad wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the pioneer work from Amazon and now they would “stand on their shoulders.” Well, at the first look, it doesn’t look so much of a challenge:

  • Kindle costs about $230, the low entry level iPad costs $499 (almost twice);
  • The Kindle screen offers higher resolution (824×1200 vs 768×1024) and have a better ppi (150 vs 132.) And let’s be honest, when you’re reading a text, it doesn’t matter if the screen is gray scale or color, it’s black text over white background.

So, why the iPad affects the Kindle market? First of all, the iPad is not just a eBook reader: It also have a browser and email client and, althought Kindle also have a browser, it’s fairly limited. So, when you count that you have a small device that can do more than just read books, it may be worth paying twice for it.

In the very heart of the situation, though, is the fact that Apple is selling books. Let’s be honest, the Kindle is nothing more than a vechile to Amazon sell books without worrying about the logistics of sending a bunch of paper sheets with ink on them to a person somewhere in the globe. Apple iBook store will go head to head with Amazon on that and, after the 1984 fisasco, it’s image is somewhat scratched. And let’s not forget that Apple managed to convince a bunch of corporate luddites that music can be sold without DRM (even after selling them with DRM for a long time — I know, I was there when they switched.)

Netbooks
Small form, can connect on most WiFi networks… Sounds a bit like a netbook, doesn’t it. Well, not a first glance. A netbook like the Dell Mini 10, which comes with 160GB (10x more than the entry level iPad), 11.6″ screen (against a 9.7″ screen) may sound like an undisputed winner, specially when it costs $399 against iPad’s $499. But when you think about what people do with Netbooks, it mostly email, web and text editing. But when you add the latest Windows version, it’s price jumps to $520. And it can still go higher if you replace Microsoft Works (bundled) with the latest Microsoft Office.

Apple redesigned their iWorks suite to fit the small screen of the iPad. And they are offering each of the 3 applications (Pages [word processor], Numbers [spreadsheet] and Keynote [presentation]) for $9.90 each. So you can get a small office suite for about $30. Which is around the same price for the Dell Mini (although you’ll have to deal with a virtual keyboard instead of real one.)

And really, I don’t think the harddisk size actually matters that much. Most people that use a netbook for email, web and small editing really don’t go that deep into the 160Gb (which is mostly used by the operating system itself.)

Not saying that the iPad is a clear winner, but it has a nice place in the netbook market.

Telephony
Wait, what? Telephony? What the hell!

Well, it’s one of the small gems hidden in the iPad. Together with the launch of the new device, Apple is releasing a new SDK, version 3.2. This version removes the restriction of VOIP applications.

Now think about it: You have a VOIP application that can run on your Wifi (and 3G) tablet and on your 3G phone (since the same OS runs on both iPad and iPhone/iPod touch.) This is big. With the price of a data transfer, you can talk to anyone in the world, anywhere you are. Old telephone companies must shiver with the prospect of landlines going to be canceled ’cause people won’t need them anymore.

(Edit) MID
MID (Mobile Internet Devices) is an area where Nokia pushed a lot. The N900 is the latest of that line of devices, which started with the N770 and, as far as I know, it’s the most famous (and successful) line of MID devices so far. Again, the iPad goes head to head against them and, due the screen size, I must say it’s almost a loss for Nokia.

On the other hand, if you remember that on every new series Nokia simply stop any support for the previous operating system (the N770 with Maemo 3 lost support when the N800 was launched and now the N800 with Maemo 4 is out of support with the N900 and Maemo 5), basically means Nokia shot itself pretty good in the foot. If only they cared about their older systems (the first iPhone STILL can get the new OS) they might had a chance. But too late.

So it’s all good?
No, not at all. The iPad, although (as I believe) is a game changer by concept, it’s new that big in the real world.

First of all, it’s the lack of multitasking, which is, let’s be honest, a stupid move by Apple. It have the power to do so, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like buying a Ferrari and going all around on second gear. The only hope is that, at some point, Apple releases an OS that it’s capable of multitasking properly (if not, it will have to be jailbroken.)

Second, it’s the centralized model around the iTunes Store. As an old user of it, I thought it was really amazing that I could get music easier than pirating it. But it’s not all roses about it: I was living in Australia and the Australian Store, although selling the soundtrack of “Across the Universe”, didn’t have the full version of some albums: Most of them are only complete (2 discs and all) only in the US store. And, worst of all, there is absolutely NO WAY of buying ANYTHING in Brazil. This is completely stupid. And you can believe some more stupidity may come, like not being able to buy some books in the original language due your region (or worst, no books at all.)

Third, no Flash. Oh wait, that’s actually a good thing. ;)

(Edit) Fourth, the lack of ports. For everything you need to connect on the iPad, you’ll need a converter. A huge mistake here. Imagine if that came with a simple video output. BLAM! Install Keynote and you have a nice presentation tool to carry around!

Summary
I really believe the iPad is the start of a new generation of computing devices. I want my PADD and walk around the Enterprise with things to show to the captain. But the centralized model Apple insists on pushing may do more harm than good (well, maybe not at their home.)

(Edit) In case you’re asking yourself “so, he means I should get one or not?” the answer is “no”. I’d like to get one myself ’cause I’m a gadget guy (I walk around with a phone and an iPod touch, sometimes I carry my N800 with me, I have a Palm T|X in a box, a GPS thingy somewhere and just thrown away one of the first iPaq models ’cause it was not working anymore) but I’m pretty sure I’d save the money to buy something else. At the same time, as it’s the first iteration of such line of devices, I guess it’s better to let the people with huge piles of money to buy it right now and wait for the next generations. Unless, of course, you have huge piles of money or is a gadget guy (with some money to spare.)