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Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 4. It was over-hyped and under-delivered

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

Dear People Who Didn’t See It: 4. It’s a myth iPad was over-hyped and under-delivered.

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.

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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.

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Ars’ Jon Stokes hails Chrome OS as the second coming of the PC

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.

Mobile Docs

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.

Roughly Drafted | Facebook

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.

From OLED to Tegra: Five Myths of the Zune HD

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.

Microsoft frets Google’s Nexus One will suffer Zune’s failure

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.”

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » iPad, Therefore I Am

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.”

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  • gus2000
  • http://blog.cytv.com cy_starkman

    The only thing going in the tech media is the lack of ability to think outside what is laid before them.

    The strategic showing of iWork did nothing to fire the evidently lacking neurons. The casual comment by Jobs that it will run most of the 140,000 apps offered the chance to consider what those apps might do on the iPad and yet regardless of the tons of powerful yet hampered by screen size pro apps all the media could muster the brain power to consider was giant fart apps.

    This was the most under hyped and under stated product launches I’ve yet seen. All it’s shown is how -sheeple- the media and geek crowd is.

    What a clueless bunch of morons. Maybe if they had grown up with a cursor flashing at them instead of being spoon fed non optional crudware they could look at a device and see what it can do.

    I would still like to see Daniel present that cluefulness in an article, discussing, not what was shown but what wasn’t.

    To conclude. Even though most of the geeks throwing tantrums mostly use their computing devices as consumption units not creation units they still don’t realise the writing on the wall.

    Welcome.. 3 types of computing device, distribution, creation and consumption. Mind you the iPad is the latter two while being presented in an understated way as only the last.

  • Pingback: Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 6. It needs HDMI for HD video output — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Ten Myth of Apple’s iPad: 2. iPad needs Adobe Flash — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 5. It’s just a Tablet PC or Kindle — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Ten Myth of Apple’s iPad: 1. It’s just a big iPod touch — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • Pingback: Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 3. It’s ad-evil — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • macspirit

    As an over-50 guy, I appreciate the fact that the iPad is bigger, much bigger than an iPhone, and yet lighter and smaller than my MBP. It will go 10 hours on a charge, and will likely be even more stable and app-freeze-free than my other Mac’s. I don’t see things close-up without the aid of glasses these day, so a bigger screen is major deal-maker for me.

    What is it they say about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts? Hmmm…they must have been thinking of the iPad, when they came up with that one. I also like the concept of ‘critical mass’, when thinking of what is going to make the iPad great…for lots and lots and lots of people. When you come up with a interface like ‘touch’, and you marry it to a powerful, yet power-stingy processor like the A4 and an LCD screen that’s vibrant and viewable from any angle, and you develop a type of manufacturing process that optimizes usable space & rigidity and mix in some impressive battery life…at a package price that mere mortals can afford, you end up with something that no one else has, and everyone is going to want.

  • Pingback: Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 7. It needs cameras — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • http://www.roughlydrafted.com danieleran

    In the original account I posted this Video to on YouTube, it received 3,300 views and the following comments:

    codeincomplete (3 days ago)
    What about multi-tasking? Apple dropped the ball with this in iPhone 3.0 notifications last year and again this year with the iPad. Some apps need multi-tasking support (Skype, Pandora, etc) and are really half-baked without it. Do we have to wait another year or more for multi-tasking apps?

    TedBrk (3 days ago)
    I have seen some of your videos and I generally support your views. Negative reactions from people in the beginning were usually not based on facts.
    I am not an Apple fan, but the idea behind the iPad is very tempting.
    You are comparing a GoogleOS tablet with the iPad, IMO that is wrong. You should compare it with Android tablets.
    That is where the competition is. I own a 200$ SmartQ7 and it is already a pretty decent tablet and runs android.
    Not a device for spoiled apple users though ;)

    johnmonk66 (4 days ago)
    you are full of shit, microsoft NEVER announced the courier, stop the lies

    gdigiart (6 days ago)
    when apple introduced the iPhone they didn’t decide to put a full mac os on it. It didn’t fit the product usability. iPhone based os would be great for the ipad that targets consumption consumers. But from the get go.. When You buy a MacBook pro instead of a pc It’s because You’re a creative and mac had become a necessity. how will this product appeal to creatives… the pro series was invinted to meet that need. It would be cool to see This implemented into ipad.

    JawnMercernary (1 week ago)
    wow, good point. Apple did not hype the iPad.

    henriok (1 week ago)
    Excellent posting! I chuckled as much as you did. Hilarious :D

    IEnumerable (1 week ago)
    The iPod and iPhone took the world by surprise and were years ahead of the competition. Whereas the iPad was predicted a year in advance and barely delivered on that. By the end of the year we will see equal or better tablet devices. Apple is a victim of their own success. When most people say over-hyped, they are taking into account other media sources than Apple. I’m not saying the iPad is a bad. There’s just no myth here.

    thehighconcept (1 week ago)
    That would be interesting were it true.

    The iPod was neither a surprise nor even a radically new product. There were plenty of marginally successful MP3 players ahead of it, and a decade of Walkman players. Apple just made a music player people wanted, with a few features that set it apart.

    The iPhone was not a surprise nor even a radically new product. There were plenty of smartphones ahead of it. Apple just made a phone people wanted, with a few brilliant features that really set it apart.

    thehighconcept (1 week ago)
    The iPad isn’t a surprise or even a radically new product. There have been plenty of not very successful tablet devices. Apple just made one that people want, with brilliant features that really set it apart.

    And get real. the iPod has been out since 2001 and nobody has made anything that the market has cared about nearly as much. Not Microsoft, not Sony, not anyone new.

    thehighconcept (1 week ago)
    The iPhone has been out since 2007 and no phone has become anything more than a briefly touted “iphone killer” before falling into history as a failed attempt.

    The iPad will have plenty of copies, but nobody is going to off anything that really compares. I mean, if they could, why didn’t they copy the iPod or the iPhone? When you use words like “over-hyped” to describe real enthusiasm that results in major sales, it’s clear you aren’t using that word appropriately.

    IEnumerable (1 week ago)
    That’s precisely my point. The iPhone has the Apple “magic” that could not be easily copied. The iPad on the other hand does not; hence the underwhelming response. Competitors will have had sufficient time playing with multi-touch displays and related OSes like Android to rapidly catch up.

    thehighconcept (1 week ago)
    Please explain how that makes any sense at all. The iPhone has some subset of technology that is magical that the iPad doesn’t have?

    It’s the other way around. The sophistication of the iPhone has yet to be matched by Android. The iPad add increased sophistication in apps and in related features. Google’s response is another OS that’s not compatible with Android, and Android.

    “Multitouch” and hardware are easy. Creating a good platform with a great UI is not, as Android demonstrates.

    IEnumerable (1 week ago)
    The iPhone introduced a new OS, the app store, a stylus free UI, and a large screen with no clutter. No one had heard of capacitive touch prior to that. That’s how Apple can over-deliver and amaze.

    I’m not saying the iPad does not have these, I’m just saying that it does not introduce anything above current technology that would amaze an audience in the expected Apple way.

    This has nothing to do with iPhone vs Android. I was merely pointing out how some ppl are under-whelmed with the iPad.

    gdigiart (1 week ago)
    the ipad is aliright. they should create a new operating system that’s completely designed hybrid.. some thing that’s different from the full os but at the same time completely different from the Iphone. And have a pressure sensitive pen for it.a model more for the business pro of creative arts. Still have the ipad… But also have an ipad pro. Like the laptops. Good video.

    iy42 (1 week ago)
    That sounds like a product that Apple will never make. What you’ve listed here is an interesting product that goes against everything Apple does. A stylus? From removing buttons on the iPod to the Magic Mouse Apple has been all about creating UI’s completely based on direct touch. And why a completely different UI to the iPhone? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As they said at the end of the keynote, the coolest thing about the iPad is that you already know how to use it.

    painr0x0r (1 week ago)
    Haha, right to the point! Good one, “over-hyped”, very funny.

    trainwrecka (1 week ago)
    Your videos are already looking 10 million times better, and it’s still just the first week! Another fantastic job on the content as well.

    inftytb (2 weeks ago)
    Steve Jobs offered to put Mac OS X on the XO laptop? Never heard that story. Is ther some reading about this somewhere?

    Hypothesard (2 weeks ago)
    @inftytb as noted in the wiki page of the “OLPC XO-1”
    the srouce is the article ()search the two folowing quotes in google
    “The $100 Laptop Moves Closer to Reality” and “Online Wall Street Journal”
    (then search the first occurence of “Steve Jobs” in the page)

    Hypothesard (2 weeks ago)
    @Hypothesard err
    Google the following keywords and you’re set (with quotes)

    “The $100 Laptop Moves Closer to Reality”
    “Wall Street Journal”

    Hypothesard (2 weeks ago)
    the quote from that article is :

    “Steve Jobs, Apple Computer Inc.’s chief executive, offered to provide free copies of the company’s operating system, OS X, for the machine, according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative’s founders. “We declined because it’s not open source,” says Dr. Papert, noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.”

    appleseedas (2 weeks ago)
    People should expect more from themselves in the first place

    Rysk0ne (1 week ago)
    “People should expect more from themselves in the first place.”
    What does that have to do with this? We’re not taking to a therapist.

    appleseedas (1 week ago)
    You should. You need that. You must. Go now.

    Rysk0ne (1 week ago)
    Learn proper grammar.

    appleseedas (1 week ago)
    Learn proper trolling.

    Rysk0ne (1 week ago)
    Okay. Sorry for offending an apple fanboy like yourself. I wasn’t my intentions. Haha stupid hippie. “People should expect more from themselves”

    appleseedas (1 week ago)
    You can’t touch this. Be sorry for your lame trolling skills. Better to be hippie I guess than someone who goes “you stupid” over some YouTube video and comment. Cheers!

    Rysk0ne (6 days ago)
    Okay, troll. If you say so.
    “can’t touch this”. How lame can you get?

    appleseedas (6 days ago)
    Can’t beat you. Learn me more about your superior art of trolling and lameness. Please keep teaching me.
    You are the best!

    Rysk0ne (2 weeks ago)
    People expect more from apple.

    Hypothesard (2 weeks ago)
    @Rysk0ne It’s more generic than that :
    Whatever happend (good, bad, better, worst), People are never satisfied.
    When It’s raining they want sunshine, whenthe sun shine, It’s too hot, etc.

    Rysk0ne (1 week ago)
    No because when the 3gs came out it wasn’t critiqued the same way.

    Hypothesard (1 week ago)
    @Rysk0ne Oh jee :
    No Front facing camera
    No 5MPix camera
    No 720p playback
    No haptic feedback
    no SD/Micro-SD slot
    no LED Flash (the Light)
    + still no Flash
    +++ all what was objected in the previous 2 iterations

    And still as you said It, It was the 3rd version, and people still didn’t figured out that Apple go at his own pace.

    But i should have been more precise about the fact that indeed It was about *Some People* and not the totality of *People* :P

  • FightTheFuture

    @daniel – typical youtube discussion turns into trolling. this is why comments on social media sites should be turned off by default.

    there’s a lot of noise coming from the unveiling of the iPad, but the one most notable to me is this from IEnumerable’s YouTube comment:

    “… By the end of the year we will see equal or better tablet devices.”

    this is a common statement whenever Apple releases a new product. my prediction is that HP, Dell and Acer will respond to the iPad by offering a device with similar features, but without the ‘flaws’ that the commenters like to mention. it’ll basically be 2001’s tablet PC all over again, and noone will realize why they won’t be selling in 2011.

  • http://macsmarticles.blogspot.com Derek Currie

    Regarding the universal trolling phenomenon: The tone of trolling become significantly more sophisticated or drops off entirely when verified registration of every person posting is required. Dan will verify this. He and I have been generals in the Computer Warz from way back. A great place to see hyper-trolling is MacDailyNews.com where no posters are required to register. Hit-&-Run trolling is the norm over there, making it a very annoying news site. Whereas here at Dan’s site you only get the most hard core of S&M freaks posting troll flames. Essentially, anonymity enables cowardice, a very old story.

    [I agree, that’s one thing I like about Facebook – anonymity is overstated as a virtue of the web – Dan]

  • enzos

    As an ‘old hand’ at news forums (delphi etc.), I can tell you that the biggest reason for anonymity is that most of the posting is being done from work (you can hear crickets chirping in the news forums on the weekend). Trolling is just an unfortunate byproduct, but that can be restricted by having moderators acting on a documented up-front moderation policy.


  • Pingback: Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 8. It’s a curse for mobile developers — RoughlyDrafted Magazine()

  • beenyweenies

    AWESOME writeup, so very true and insightful.

    I laugh so hard when I think about the “overhyped” complaint. It was the idiots at Engadget, TUAW etc. that overhyped it with endless, almost daily speculation and wishing, NOT Apple. When that level of expectation-building happens, nothing can possibly satisfy. It’s as though they honestly believed that Apple developers were sitting around reading their blogs for cues as to which features the iPad should have, so they were angry when the resulting device wasn’t aimed at obsessive spec-driven geeks.