It’s the morning after and time for an unjaundiced look at Apple’s just-announced iPad tablet computer thingee. My last post was a series of pre-announcement Tweets from a guy at or near EnGadget and I took some grief from readers for even posting it, but in retrospect I am glad I did because it gives me a lot more to say about the new gizmo.
Were the tweets from a real beta tester? While many readers thought they weren’t, I’m pretty sure they were, primarily based on what many perceived as mistakes. Yes, the price points were off but those things can change hour-by-hour right up to the last minute and I wouldn’t put it past Apple to deliberately give bad pricing to testers to mislead and catch leaks. More importantly, the Twitterer said there would be three price points and there were. Based on the iPhone/iTouch intro model one would only have expected two price points.
Let’s look inside this price differential for a moment and try to channel our inner Steve Jobs. The Twitterer said $599, $699, and $799 while Apple announced $499, $599, and $699 without 3G and $629, $729, and $829 for the same models with 3G. But remember the Twitterer was strictly referring to 3G models, since he said they had 3G. He also mentioned both AT&T and Verizon Wireless, while Apple mentioned only AT&T.
Just because Apple didn’t mention Verizon doesn’t mean they won’t also offer 3G service from Verizon. The word “exclusive” was never used referring to AT&T. They trotted-out that pre-paid plan, but it would be crazy for carriers to not also offer a one-year or two-year subscription plan, too, which would drop the unit price somewhat. Maybe the subscription rates weren’t yet set. More likely the Verizon details were still in some limbo or Apple gave AT&T an exclusive presence at the intro in exchange for some concession we may never know about.
With Steve Jobs the deal isn’t done until it is done so I am sure he’s still trying to take one or both carriers to the cleaners.
Which brings us back to that price, which was $30 higher than predicted by the Twitterer. Remember Apple dropped iPhone prices almost immediately after the units started shipping. I don’t think this pricing is set in stone, either. Maybe the $30 is padding they’ll drop at the intro to make us feel good. Parts experts say 3G chips now cost around $7, so including one hardly adds $130 to the price or even $100.
Another point brought up against the Twitterer was the battery life (he said three hours, Apple said 10 hours). Reality in the PC and mobile industries is that a 10 hour battery life really means six hours. You may get 100 percent of the advertised battery life, but I don’t. My little Dell Vostro A90 (more on that in a day or so) is supposed to be good for six hours but the little battery meter always tells me on a full charge that I have 3:25 to go. There’s simply no way that iPad, no matter what the processor, is good for a real 10 hours of continuous use. And remember this is the non-3G version they are touting, while the Twitterer was clearly using 3G.
An iPod Touch with Wifi turned on lasts a lot longer than a comparable iPhone with WiFi turned off. In real life I’m pretty sure a 3G iPad IS a 2-3 hour device. And what’s wrong with that?
Finally, where were the split-view camera and the gimmicky solar charger? According to EnGadget the split-view cam is mentioned in the iPad SDK as “iPad-only” and some iPad apps ask you to take pictures without giving you the capability to do so…. yet. I’m sure the camera is coming. As for the solar charger, who’s to say that won’t come shortly, too?
In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if both features are present when the iPad finally ships in 60 days along with iPhone 4.0 software, which many expected to be part of yesterday’s announcement.
I was disappointed by the lack of iPhone 4.0 because this kind of device really needs true multi-tasking. I’m sure we will see it soon. What I am not at all sure about but wish we’d see soon is support for Adobe’s Flash. What does Steve Jobs have against Adobe, anyway? He used to love Adobe chairman John Warnock. There’s some weird daddy thing going on there with Apple’s rejection of Flash and I am tired of it. This new processor is plenty fast enough to support Flash and HTML 5 is still not ready for prime time.
Correction — Here’s a more informed view of the Flash situation from a friend. it’s hard to argue with his numbers:
“I did a quickie test with the new YouTube HTML5 beta. On a site that embedded a video (so Flash was used), my browser CPU utilization was 22%, and the Adobe Flash plug-in CPU utilization was 55%. (dual core macbook pro, so total CPU% = 200%).
After the video played, I watched the same video again directly on the YouTube site in HTML5. Adobe Flash plug-in CPU utilization was 4% (what it consumes just sitting on its hiney), and the browser CPU utilization was 17%.
77% vs 21%. that’s why Apple hates Adobe. There certainly may be personalities involved (with Jobs, there is always something personal), but Adobe Flash is just technically awful (this actually may be the crux of any Jobs’ hatred – he hates inelegance, and Adobe Flash is inelegant).
I don’t hate Adobe, and it does bother met that I can’t see Flash on the iPhone or iPad, but Adobe has acted very awfully in this area and doesn’t appear to be doing anything to address it. Google and Apple have the muscle to squeeze them out.”
Now we return you to Bob, already in progress:
The apps were underwhelming to me with the exception of iPhoto, but maybe that requires waiting for iPhone 4, too. Overall the product felt rushed. But knowing Steve a little bit I think he’s seeing this as a two-part intro and there will be another event around the shipping date, supposedly 60 days from now, which he’ll correctly view as yet another marketing opportunity. At that event we’ll see 3G from more than just AT&T, we’ll hear about more data plans including subsidized plans that will drop the price by $200. We’ll see the split-view camera, iPhone 4.0, and maybe even that little solar charger.
As presented yesterday the iPad was cool and I’ll probably buy one, but not right away. Fortunately many people will buy them right away then buy them again when the update equivalent to 3G (4G? HD?) comes along, just as they did with the original 2G iPone and the original 128K Mac. So I am sure the iPad will be at least a modest success, even in its initial incarnation. But you know what it feels like to me with it’s hype followed by an underwhelming reality? It feels like another Segway, which sure hasn’t changed the way people move on the Earth.