I spent way too much time playing with the iPad today. In fact, I’m still thinking about it and here’s why: The browser is better than the browser on my MacBook. It might be the best browsing experience out there. By a lot.
Not only is the browser really (MacBook Pro type) fast, but it is a much more natural way of “surfing”. Instead of hitting your trackpad you just point to what you want on the screen. There is no hand-eye coordination required. It is the best of the iPhone’s pinch/scroll/zoom/resolution independence on a sufficiently large laptop caliber display. If I want to go portrait? Boom.
Make no mistake: Apple is targeting the uber-hot netbook market with this device. What are you doing 90% of the time on a netbook? Browsing. And it isn’t even close here. The iPad is on another level in browsing. The only area where a traditional netbook shines is in typing URLs. But in the hour of playing with the iPad, I rarely found myself longing for a keyboard.
So what about the other 10% of the time on a netbook? Instant Messaging? Office Apps? VoIP? They’re pretty much all in the App Store. And Office is $30 for iPad vs >$100 for a netbook, something that makes the $499 iPad vs. $299 netbook price easier to justify. I wasn’t immediately able to operate iWork apps on the device but I started to learn pretty quickly. These apps might be the X-factor for this device. A touch office suite. A big first.
When you add in that this device is also an e-book reader, a gaming device, and a movie viewer, $499 doesn’t seem like a hard sell.
The monster downside to this device? Lack of a camera. I think this is a crippling move by Apple that does two things: One, it keeps iPhones relevant and important. Two, it is a huge differentiating factor that will sell lots of v2 upgrades. My hope is that someone makes an add on camera that fits pretty snugly onto the 30-pin connector for ~$30 (which seems to be supported by the software). Lack of Flash also is a bummer, especially in the Hulu category. But I think Hulu may come up with an App at some point as well.
Another interesting note: Apple today lifted its ban on VoIP over 3G on the iPhone…which will likely translate to the iPad. So that means that, theoretically, I can dump my voice provider (AT&T) and just use the iPad as a phone for $30/month for unlimited data on AT&T. I know that is extremely unrealistic to carry around that big thing everywhere I go (and I’d be losing a camera FFS), but, I am already missing using it.
And if you think about the big picture, that “desire to use the iPad.” That certainly bodes well for sales.