My thoughts on the Apple iPad

Yes, we all read Fraser Speirs‘ excellent Future Shock and we’ve listened to the constant whining of the less space than a Nomad folks and we’re asking ourselves when a new Dell ever elicited this response.

“If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford


I’m as geek as they come, as you may be able to tell from some of the other posts on this very blog, yet my fellow geeks are letting us down in some way. The current argument in favour of the iPad is “It’s not for me, of course, but I can see my Gran getting one.” This is an argument I feel is still a little faster horse. To understand why I want an iPad, I have to go back a little into my past. I used to love overclocking games PCs: TNT cards, AXIA-Ys, Arctic Silver, these all bring back fond memories, but I found I needed a computer for when my PC was up on blocks and for that, I had a G4-400 PowerMac. These days, in my day job, I make Linux sit up and beg, but when I get home, I use a 13″ MacBook. But, it’s time; I don’t want to care what browser I’m using. I want to look at the web, not the browser. I do mails, Twitter and the occasional SSH session (Yes, iSSH is coming to the iPad) to my server to make sure it’s behaving. Sure, I do a lot of video conversions too, but those are offloaded to the TV’s pet Mac Mini, and the only time I’d need to use the CPU is for assorted photo tasks. As geek as I am, nine times out of ten, I’d be happier on a computer-as-commodity as I want the content with as few speed bumps between me and it as possible. If I can also read books and comics on it, that’s a bonus.

A quick digression; comics. Well, comic publishers, you’ve got just under two months. There’s a little bit of piracy out there with CBR and CBZ files on the torrent sites, but that’s nothing compared to the underground industry that will pop up around the iPad. Get a delivery model sorted out and do it soon because in two months, people will be putting comics on the iPad. On the whole, they’d much prefer to do it legally, but if that’s not an option, they will pirate them. When piracy is easier than legally buying comics, it’s hard to blame the pirates. Get it sorted. Fast.

Where were we? Oh yes.

Yeah, I think I called it.

I’m pretty sure I can replace my laptop with an iPad for well over 90% of my computing needs, and the remaining photo stuff would necessitate my pulling the MacBook out once a week or so at the most. I’m going to give it a go and get myself the lowest spec iPad and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. I firmly believe the nay-sayer geeks will, if they can get past their pride, come round to this way of thinking. Like Henry Ford implied in the quote above, sometimes you’ve got to give them something better than what they could come up with themselves.

So, there you go, nothing groundbreaking or new, but that’s my thoughts.

Please leave a comment or drop me a tweet. Interesting times lie ahead. Oh, and read my brother Scott’s view over on his blog.

Jared Earle is a writer, photographer and systems administrator. You can find him on Twitter most of the time.

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  • http://www.tronguy.net/TRONcostume/ TronGuy

    I love The Future and think the iPad will definitely play a part either in that or in history.

    I suspect both.

  • lbutlr

    based on the reactions of the non-techies around me, I think this could easily be bigger than the iPod Touch+iPhone combined. Everyone seems to want one.

  • Steve

    Nope, still think its pitched to much at a niche- niche market and only the apple afficianados will buy it. I dont see too many people taking out 2 seperate contracts with their mobile phone provider for data access, (one for phone, one for ipad).

  • http://www.scottearle.com Scott

    I think it’s exactly NOT a niche product. It’s about as general as you can get. Most of the criticisms it has been getting since its announcement have been from people crying about how it does not fit into their niche.

    It is the perfect non-geeky computer, and as such all the geeks hate it.

    Sure you can’t use it for graphic design, hardcore gaming or software development. It’s a computer for everyone else. And frankly that is a huge market. Massive.

    And for those complaining about how it’s “just a big iPhone” : one of the things that annoys me sometimes about my iPhone is how small its screen is.

    Bring it on.

  • Jocke Selin

    I agree. The noisy geeks seem to want to wave their flag and shout their “political parties”. The loudest shouter isn’t the majority.
    I can totally see the iPad becoming very common with people who want to leave their work laptop in the laptop bag when they come home. Sit down, pick up the iPad and study what is considered “not-work”. Forums, news, TV schedule, put some music on, etc.
    Just because one is a geek who likes to compile and f**k up systems, doesn’t mean you’ve got some right to judge what the generic consumer wants to do. (Surprise surprise, it’s NOT compiling). This nonsense about the closed nature also is something that the average geek should shut up about. A free, open, do-what-you-want SDK is not a god given right either. Traditionally SDKs have been provided by the vendor to do what the vendor wants their software/hardware to do. Think old skool VAXs, AS400, etc, all the way down to the latest Xbox/PS3/Wii. They’re all controlled and approved by the vendor. Apple is NO different from that. It simply guarantees a minimum quality level for the consumer. And remember, it’s not the programming geek, that’s the target of the iPad. The iPad end consumer will be “normal people” who do what most “normal peole” do; Web, Email, some Games, Scheduling, etc.
    Good post, Jared!

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  • http://cimota.com/blog Matt Johnston

    One concern.

    Let’s say the majority of non-geek consumers go out and buy one. This will mean that the AppStore becomes even more popular as developers vie for attention. No bad thing. Variety and choice of software on the Mac was never before a ‘situation’ never mind a ‘problem’ but in the scale of things it’s not a bad problem to have.

    But my concern is not the non-geek with their cheap iPads. Nor is it the developers who will earn the money to buy ever more powerful multi-core systems with RAM limits high into the double figures of Gigabytes.

    It’s those of us who are geek but not developers. We’re not depending on the fruits of the AppStore for our income and the majority of people out there will be using iPads – systems which are limited but more intuitive than the current crop. Crucially they have less ‘problems’.

    Will the venerable non-developer IT geek be eventually put out to pasture?
    Will the sorts of systems that we like (Powerful, Robust, Multitasking) become the reserve of the developer and we, in our dwindling revenues, will be unable to afford them?

    Yes, it’s the apocalypse.

  • http://twitter.com/aristotelis/status/14914046694 Aristotelis

    Very good indeed it just makes sense RT @jearle: @Aristotelis I speculated a big iPod Touch: http://bit.ly/9ufpO3