Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 4. It was over-hyped and under-delivered
February 3rd, 2010
Daniel Eran Dilger
Here’s segment four in my series taking on iPad myths: no the iPad wasn’t over-hyped and then under-delivered.
Ten Myth of Apple’s iPad: 1. It’s just a big iPod touch
Ten Myth of Apple’s iPad: 2. iPad needs Adobe Flash
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 3. It’s ad-evil
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 4. It was over-hyped and under-delivered
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 5. It’s just a Tablet PC or Kindle
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 6. It needs HDMI for HD video output
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 7. It needs cameras
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 8. It’s a curse for mobile developers
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 9. It can’t multitask
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 10. It needs Mac OS X
The biggest complaint about the iPad seems to come from people who didn’t see it: what’s the point? There’s also plenty of people who did see it came away without seeing the point, the value, the advance in technology, its invisible user interface savvy, or who might want to buy one. They contend that Apple overhyped the iPad but then didn’t deliver.
The reality is that Apple didn’t hype the iPad at all. It didn’t release any teaser visions or vaporware specifications, or float any initiatives that weren’t likely to ever get delivered. If anything, the company and its executives remained oddly silent–certainly nothing new for Apple, but a very uncharacteristic way to introduce a product in the tech industry in general.
Look at some examples for context: Michael Arrington’s CrunchPad: nothing but hype, this vision didn’t meet its price goals, feature goals, or even realize its idealistic open source technology sharing dreams. How about the overhyped XO? Again, it blew way over budget, ended up rather anemic and spurned Steve Jobs’ offer to use Mac OS X on righteous GPL grounds only to fail to badly that its leader was ready to adopt the completely closed and proprietary Windows platform.
How about commercial efforts to deliver a tablet-like device? Palm’s Foleo didn’t make it past the demo stage. Microsoft’s Courier idea was similarly just a distracting vision without any realism attached, hyped into the stratosphere by the same clowns who are trying to make out that apple raised lofty expectations and then stomped all over them. Google is floating conceptual pictures of a Chrome OS iPad that only lets you browse the web… and now those very sketchy details are being touted by the tech clowns as potential iPad-killers.
The truth is, if Apple is guilty of setting up any expectations for the iPad, it was only to suggest the price would be twice as high and that it wouldn’t be nearly as successful as the iPhone.
Jobs didn’t oversell anything; he understated Apple’s interest in entering the ebook arena with something like iBooks, Apple didn’t even allude to the possibility of a futuristic multitouch tablet for enjoying an enhanced albums and movies experience when showing off iTunes Extras and iTunes LPs last fall, and the company has made no trumped up prognostications about how it will expand the popular App Store into more sophisticated desktop applications like those demonstrated for the first time on the iPad, from Calendar to iWork.
Speaking from the Ars.
Jon Stokes of Ars Technica created a matrix of general features (“a list of stuff that I personally care about in a mobile device,” he wrote) which seemed intent on suggesting that iPad doesn’t do anything a regular smartphone does not already do or that a bunch of competing tablet devices plan to do real soon now.
For example, Stokes dismissed Apple’s invention of the multitouch office suite by listing the feature “use office apps,” and then crediting both smartphones and “a bazillion other tablets in 2010” as being able to already do this. How ignorantly simplistic and misleading to equate a full screen, multitouch office suite with Documents to Go on a Palm Pilot or Microsoft’s ridiculous Pocket Office apps.
Stokes used the same generalization to dismiss Apple’s commanding lead with iTunes, the App Store, and even the iPhone’s revolutionary mobile Safari browser that competitors haven’t really caught up to over the last three years, even with Nokia, Google, and everyone else able to leverage Apple’s open source WebKit code.
Dr. Ernest Prabhakar, who has long managed Apple’s Mac OS X open source strategy at Apple, wrote on the Roughly Drafted Facebook page (which you should join, as there’s lots of smart people writing interesting things in the discussions) that Ars’ list reducing iPad to a list of features “is like reducing the experience of eating chocolate to a list of chemicals.”
He also recently retweeted a post by Macworld’s Dan Moren that all the anger about the iPad was reminiscent of what Yoda said about anger coming from fear. Clearly, lots of people are scared silly about the iPad.
Are you kidding me Engadget?
But Ars’ certainly wasn’t alone in denigrating the iPad as being nothing new. A trio of Engadget editors pretty much panned the iPad as being “fairly underwhelming […] unimaginative might be more accurate,” “jack of some trades, a master of none,” and “a huge letdown — no groundbreaking display technology, no advanced user interface, no particularly interesting ways for the device to interact with the other devices and computers in your home.”
Wow really? What kind of display technology were you looking for, an OLED panel that would cost much more and really only deliver a screen that only looked good in candlelit vigils, like the Zune HD? Engadget thought that was pretty cool, but it hasn’t sold worth beans and nobody cares about it.
What sort of advanced user interface would trump the hybrid use of familiar iPhone controls and Mac OS X desktop concepts? Something you’d need a manual to figure out? The most advanced user interface is one you don’t notice!
And what would be a particularly interesting way for the iPad to interact with other devices if not the ability to seamlessly discover and peer connect via Bluetooth or network over users’ existing WiFi networks, both things that iPhone 3.0 delivered nearly a near ago or longer? This isn’t criticism, it’s straight up ignorance.
Waaa, I miss the 1990s.
Engadget writers just kept going: “iPad is, in my mind, one of Apple’s biggest misses,” “as the harsh reality of the facts began to sink in, my hopes and dreams for a revolutionary device were crushed […] I was looking for something new and innovative […] I was also shocked and saddened to find that the iPad runs on what seems to be just a fancy version of iPhone OS.”
Yes, what kind of foolish company is Apple for basing all of its mobile devices on the same operating system? Microsoft has at least two massively different kernels in play and Google has two completely different operating system strategies with Android and Chrome OS. Why is Apple scaling a single kernel and development platform from its smartphone to its mobile media player to its tablet to its desktop systems?
Oh right, the conventional Mac OS X desktop has the POWER (missing from the modern iPhone OS) to also let you run Carbon apps from the 1990s like Office and Photoshop, as well as that plethora of Java software that should fit right in on a multitouch panel. OH THE HUMANITY. STOP SAYING STUPID THINGS.
They keep going like chatty cathy dolls that pull their own strings.
The iPad was enough to unearth Mark Stephens’ “I, Cringely” character. He bewailed the iPad’s lack of support for Adobe’s Flash, writing, “there’s some weird daddy thing going on there with Apple’s rejection of Flash and I am tired of it.” Cringely concluded, “you know what it feels like to me with it’s [sic] hype followed by an underwhelming reality? It feels like another Segway.”
Why’s that Cringely? Is the iPad impossibly expensive? Ugly? Illegal to use on the sidewalk due to knee jerk political panic? Or did you just want some trite thing to flippantly say that is neither relevant nor articulated in any way, just to get quoted as a luminary? Because the last ten million things you’ve said were all wrong as I recall. You’re right up there with John Dvorak.
Paul Thurrott hates the iPad for various reasons, but who cares? None of them are even fleetingly interesting to even consider.
Reader Per Grenerfors summarized Thurrott’s entire series of articles naysaying the iPad (at least five so far!) into a single line that pretty much sums up Thurrott’s opinion of everything that will ever be designed by the company: “Apple [...] really isn’t the type of company we want controlling things.” Thurrott sounds like Glenn Beck speaking into a fancy telephone that replaces all occurrences of “Obama” with “Apple.”