Apple’s iPad Tablet To Redefine The Market?
Consumers and industry analysts have been waiting for the Jan. 27th Apple event, which occurred today. As expected, Apple indeed unveiled a tablet PC, which many believe will redefine the market segment, and could be a boon to the publishing industry.
Interestingly, just prior to the announcement, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a series of 13 newly granted patents for Apple. One of the patents that was unveiled was, significantly, one that relates to Apple’s tablet. The patent is focused on the tablet’s proximity detection capabilities.
As far as the event itself, it was, of course, hosted by CEO Steve Jobs. The initial parts of the event were focused on what Apple recently released, its earnings. Then, however, came the expected announcement, with the expected name: iPad.
Apple’s tablet PC will be called iPad, and the delivery of the device, as well as Jobs comments on netbooks (past and today) give the reason for its existence. There is a market segment that fits between PCs and app phones, and there needs to be a device there that handles the job better than the other two device types. Netbooks are clearly unsatisfactory performance-wise for many, and though they fit into a middle category between full-fledged PCs and app phones, they don’t fit it well, and as Jobs said, “The problem is Netbooks aren’t better at anything.” Enter, the iPad.
As many believed, it looks a lot like an oversized iPod touch. In fact, look at that, a home button! Spec-wise, the iPad is 0.5″ thick, has a 9.7″ IPS display (same type as in the latest-gen iMac), and weighs 1.5 pounds. It has a capacitive multi-touch screen, 1 Ghz custom Apple processor, the A4, which includes, actually, processor, graphics, I/O memory controller on one chip. The iPad will come with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of SSD storage.
Additionally, it will have 802.11n wi-fi, Bluetooth, accelerometer, compass, and 10-hours of battery life (we’ll see). It reportedly can survive up to one month sans charging in standby mode, truly amazing.
Also as expected, the iPad will run any iPhone app, unmodified. The app can be zoomed to fit the entire iPad screen. Of course, if you want the app to look better, natively, with the new SDK that is to be released today, developers can also modify the apps themselves to fit the screen.
Of course, the iPad has web browsing, media playback (including what they called a “built-in iPod”). It can even be used for gaming. That is correct, it can be used for gaming. Electronic Arts, for example, showed off “Need For Speed.” This could remake mobile gaming, or at least, gaming at LAN parties.
Of course, as expected, one major focus of the iPad is e-books. While Amazon.com’s Kindle device has owned the lion’s share of the market, the iPad and e-books are BFFs. Apple, in its i-centric way, calls them iBooks, and they use the ePub format, which is an open standard, as opposed to a proprietary standard.
As the Apple tablet announcement droned on, the question popping into many minds was: what about the price of the device? That could be a killer, as many expected the device to run about $1,000. Surprise, the device is not cheap, but it’s cheaper than expected. For wi-fi only versions, it’s $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, $699 for 64GB. Add 3G, and you also add $130 per device. You add a monthly charge of $15 for 250GB of data or $30 for unlimited, with AT&T the provider. No contract is required.
All of the iPad 3G models are unlocked, and they use the new GSM microSIMs. International plans will be announced in the June / July timeframe, Apple hopes. As far as availability goes, 60 days for the iPad non-wifi version, and 90 days for the iPad wi-fi version.
What’s interesting about the Apple tablet announcement is that since, as expected, the iPad uses the iPhone OS, iPhone and iPod touch users will be able to move from their current devices to the iPad without any pain, except in their wallets. That is, of course, in general, as there will be differences, but it won’t be like moving from Windows to Mac OS.
What’s bad about today’s announcement: since the iPad is built with the iPhone OS, what does that mean to you users who think about such things? Yes, that means that the iPad will only be able to get apps through the App Store, which means users are relegated to the vagaries of the App Store’s rather draconian approval process. It’s yet another device that will be best when jailbroken.
There’s another thing that’s missing that would require a jailbroken iPad: background processing. While many might think, hey this is a computer, it’s using the iPhone OS, and there is no background processing. Of course, those with jailbroken iPhones use the Backgrounder app, and if everything runs instantly the way Apple says …
Oh, and no announcement of AT&T losing its iPhone exclusivity to Verizon. As I previously said, while I believe that will happen this year, a) I figure it will happen during the next iPhone refresh in June (or thereabouts), b) it wouldn’t be Verizon at this point, anyway, as CDMA is going to die soon, with LTE coming. My guess: T-Mobile, despite the fact that it’s No. 4 in the U.S.