The iPad will probably be a great device. Someday.

I’m not buying an iPad, nor am I buying into the hype about it. I love that with Apple products, folks don’t realize that they can’t live without something until Steve Jobs tells them what they can’t live without.

At this moment we have 5 Macs in active use in our home, 2 iPhones and one iPhone without SIM that’s essentially an iPod Touch. But I’m a realist, not a fangirl. I didn’t buy an iPod until its 5th generation. I bought my first iPhone at round 2.

I do see the iPad’s potential. I do understand Apple’s move to break free of the keyboard/monitor/operating system way of doing things. I can even appreciate the value of a closed system where you know that everything will have a consistent look and feel. 

The fancrowd is saying that the iPad isn’t for geeky-tech types like me. It’s for the casual consumer. Someone like my Mom who uses her not-the-latest-and-greatest computer for email and web surfing and keeping track of her finances and buying stuff on Amazon. She’d love an iPad, right? Nope. Not yet. And it has nothing to do with the price.

Here’s why I won’t recommend an iPad 1.0 to my Mom:

Apple needs to make up its mind. Does this device sit alongside a regular computer or replace it? It makes sense if it replaces the casual home computer. It can be used in any room of the house and is so pretty and convenient. I’m continually amazed at how much use I get out of my iPhone when I’m away from home. Yet the iPad has to be synced to a computer for content. Yes, the iPad has its own iTunes store and Mom can manage her email and contacts in the iPad without syncing because she uses Gmail. But then how would she back it up? If an iPad isn’t being synced to a computer and it gets lost, it gets corrupted or gets dropped and you’re out of luck. Apple needs to untether the iPad from a “regular” computer for it to really take off for home use. Otherwise, it’s an add-on luxury device and nothing more. The joke that is still MobileMe doesn’t count.

Mom has her computer at work, and she has her computer at home. She gets her books, magazines and newspapers on paper. If she’s going to read her content on an iPad, that content needs to be on the iPad. And that means her local newspaper, not The New York Times. While it’s nice that Apple has deals for books, I want to see many more deals with content publishers beyond books, and in such a way that it makes it worth giving up paper. Or more apps that provide that content. I get all my magazine subscriptions I can on Zinio now. A big reason is because a Zinio subscription is often cheaper than a mailed one. A big part of a Kindle’s appeal is that you can buy a $25 bestseller for $10. The deals have to make it worth people’s while to make the switch. Otherwise paper will always be “good enough” for the masses. 

Not all websites work. I don’t care how fast and gorgeous the browser is. The lack of Flash is a problem no matter how Apple spins it. Mom doesn’t know or care that it’s Flash that’s making her favorite websites do what they do. She doesn’t care it’s the reason for most of her computer problems. She doesn’t care that HTML5 is the best thing on the horizon. The websites she likes just won’t work. Apple is being stubborn when it comes to their desire to kill Flash, and they’ve done this before. Remember the bruhaha when they only included USB and removed the floppy drive from the first iMac back in 1988? I had that first iMac purchased on Day 1 of its release and I was able to buy a little USB device that plugged in to my computer and it let me get data off my old floppies. Not ideal, but there was a workaround. There is no workaround if a site doesn’t work on the iPhone/iPad and blaming it on the site is so not the answer. Neither is expecting every website to create something for the App Store instead.

Bottom line is that the iPad 1.0 is a device that isn’t for the techy-geeks, yet I think only the techy-geeks will really appreciate it.

Bring on iPad 2.0.
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5 thoughts on “The iPad will probably be a great device. Someday.

  1. iacas says:

    You and I will have to agree to disagree on the Flash thing. I agree that it stinks if you’re looking to use this as your “only” computer – I disagree why Apple’s taking the route they’re taking.

  2. Jack Brewster says:

    Just to get it on the record, as I tweeted earlier, lack of printing is also a problem.If they make MobileMe a) work better (never tried it myself) and b) allow read/write access to iDisk, I could see this being far more of a replacment. iWork.com doesn’t cut it at all (1GB and only iWork apps. Oh yeah, beta, too.).I’m curious how Google Docs might work in this form factor. Saves you $10-30 and resolves the online storage issue.And as I much as I hate to admit it, lack of Flash is more glaring on the iPad considering that expectations of a fuller web experience will probably be higher.

  3. Jack Brewster says:

    Of course, just found out about some printing hacks available for the iPhone after commenting: http://bit.ly/d6qEaeBut until the capability ties directly into native apps/data stores, it’s not “just working” and therefore not Mom-proof.

  4. Judi Sohn says:

    And I can see my mother’s reaction to that, “You want me to pay another $3 so I can print on this thing?!?!”

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