Thursday, August 13, 2009

Apple's 'iPad'

‘Ipad’, the nickname of the alleged tablet PC that everyone is predicting that Apple is gonna release in near future: either before this holiday season or early 2010, is something that really has alluring power. Of course everyone has their take on the price, the release date and all that. My interest would more on its functionality than anything else. Cos, for Apple, it doesn’t follow but create market, also what Apple product doesn’t charge consumer a premium? So, what really matter is how good the product is gonna be.

I’ve read quite a number of articles about the iPad/iTablet. Regarding the product itself, the consensus is that it is gonna be multi-touch, with 10 inches screen, run OS X, has Wi fi can access and use iPhone apps. (see the above fictional picture of what it will look like, created by some artists) That’s about it. I think those predictions are absolutely reasonable, but in terms of market, usually writers of articles mentioned the possible price range of around US$699 to define what it is. For me that’s not really any comment about the target audience or market. Also, since Tim Cook criticized the current netbooks in the market, so the iPad is believed to be going after the non-netbook consumers. For that, I would disagree so.

I think the iPad will be hit three particular products the hardest when it comes out: the netbook, the e-book readers (aka Kindle, and Sony reader), and those big screen PMP. Those 3 products are all portable devices. Netbook is popular because it is portable and cheaper than a laptop that can provide mobile services for web-surfing, simple office functions, and simple media playing functions. The shortcoming is the crumby keyboard, subpar OS, and speed. Ebook reader is for reading books and magazine, but e-link still has a year or 2 before color can be added. So, it is still black and white. Also, it is expensive for simply serving those functions. PMP, a less popular device, is mostly for watch DVD, purely for entertainment purpose. I believe that iPad will all that and better. Netbook and PMP will have no match considering the superiority of Apple’s OS. The design and form factor with multitouch will have strong appeal than the Kindle. Cos, you can swipe a page on the iPad to go to next page, like you read a magazine or a book, not pressing ‘buttons’! With iTunes, it should be easy to add ‘books’ there. So, Amazon has to watch out.

Certainly, iPad’s goal is not just to beat those 3 products, but doing more. Apple already has a great fan base in education field. So, iPad can definitely become the e-textbook of choice. If iTunes University contains lectures from elite institutions already that is using iPod and iPhone for access. Would iPad be even better for viewing? And even handing out homework assignments back to teacher? The usage in education market is only limited by your imagination. Lastly and naturally, iPad can be rolled out to Medical market which is predicted and will be welcomed by health professionals.

Therefore, with the release of iPad, I strongly believe that Apple will once again have a hit on its hand. I don’t think it will be as big as iPhone, but I should do much better than iCube, AppleTV, or Macbook Air. The greatest concern that I’ve for iPad is the battery life. Unlike iPhone or iPod, iPad’s battery gotta be detachable for replacement, before better battery technology is commercially available. Otherwise, it will certainly create a lot of grumpy customers.

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