iPad danger: app v. web, consumer v. creator

I tweeted earlier that after having slept with her (Ms. iPad), I woke up with morning-after regrets. She’s sweet and pretty but shallow and vapid.

Cute line, appropriate for retweets. But as my hangover settles in, I realize that there’s something much more basic and profound that worries me about the iPad — and not just the iPad but the architecture upon which it is built. I see danger in moving from the web to apps.

The iPad is retrograde. It tries to turn us back into an audience again. That is why media companies and advertisers are embracing it so fervently, because they think it returns us all to their good old days when we just consumed, we didn’t create, when they controlled our media experience and business models and we came to them. The most absurd, extreme illustration is Time Magazine’s app, which is essentially a PDF of the magazine (with the odd video snippet). It’s worse than the web: we can’t comment; we can’t remix; we can’t click out; we can’t link in, and they think this is worth $4.99 a week. But the pictures are pretty.

That’s what we keep hearing about the iPad as the justification for all its purposeful limitations: it’s meant for consumption, we’re told, not creation. We also hear, as in David Pogue’s review, that this is our grandma’s computer. That cant is inherently snobbish and insulting. It assumes grandma has nothing to say. But after 15 years of the web, we know she does. I’ve long said that the remote control, cable box, and VCR gave us control of the consumption of media; the internet gave us control of its creation. Pew says that a third of us create web content. But all of us comment on content, whether through email or across a Denny’s table. At one level or another, we all spread, react, remix, or create. Just not on the iPad.

The iPad’s architecture supports these limitations in a few ways:

First, in its hardware design, it does not include a camera — the easiest and in some ways most democratic means of creation (you don’t have to write well) — even though its smaller cousin, the iPhone, has one. Equally important, it does not include a simple (fucking) USB port, which means that I can’t bring in and take out content easily. If I want to edit a document in Apple’s Pages, I have to go through many hoops of moving and snycing and emailing or using Apple’s own services. Cloud? I see no cloud, just Apple’s blue skies. Why no USB? Well, I can only imagine that Apple doesn’t want us to think what Walt Mossberg did in his review — the polar opposite of Pogue’s — that this pad could replace its more expensive laptops. The iPad is purposely handicapped, but it doesn’t need to be. See the German WePad, which comes with USB port(s!), a camera, multitasking, and the more open Android operating system and marketplace.

Second, the iPad is built on apps. So are phones, Apple’s and others’. Apps can be wonderful things because they are built to a purpose. I’m not anti-app, let’s be clear. But I also want to stop and examine the impact of shifting from a page- and site-based internet to one built on apps. I’ve been arguing that we are, indeed, moving past a page-, site-, and search-based web to one also built on streams and flows, to a distributed web where you can’t expect people to come to you but you must go to them; you must get yourself into their streams. This shift to apps is a move in precisely the opposite direction. Apps are more closed, contained, controlling. That, again, is why media companies like them. But they don’t interoperate — they don’t play well — with other apps and with the web itself; they are hostile to links and search. What we do in apps is less open to the world. I just want to consider the consequences.

So I see the iPad as a Bizarro Trojan Horse. Instead of importing soldiers into the kingdom to break down its walls, in this horse, we, the people, are stuffed inside and wheeled into the old walls; the gate is shut and we’re welcomed back into the kingdom of controlling media that we left almost a generation ago.

There are alternatives. I now see the battle between Apple and Google Android in clearer focus. At Davos, Eric Schmidt said that phones (and he saw the iPad as just a big phone… which it is, just without the phone and a few other things) will be defined by their apps. The mobile (that is to say, constantly connected) war will be won on apps. Google is competing with openness, Apple with control; Google will have countless manufacturers and brands spreading its OS, Apple will have media and fanboys (including me) do the work for it.

But Google has a long way to go if it hopes to win this war. I’m using my Nexus One phone (which I also had morning-after doubts about) and generally liking it but I still find it awkward. Google has lost its way, its devotion to profound simplicity. Google Wave and Buzz are confusing and generally unusable messes; Android needed to be thought through more (I shouldn’t have to think about what a button does in this use case before using it); Google Docs could be more elegant; YouTube’s redesign is halfway to clean. Still, Google and Apple’s competition presents us with choices.

I find it interesting that though many commercial brands — from Amazon to Bank of America to Fandango — have written for both Apple and Android, many media brands — most notable The New York Times and my Guardian — have written only for Apple and they now are devoting much resource to recreating apps for the iPad. The audience on Android is bigger than the audience on iPad but the sexiness and control Apple offers is alluring. This, I think, is why Salon CEO Richard Gingras calls the iPad a fatal distraction for publishers. They are deluding themselves into thinking that the future lies in their past.

On This Week in Google last night, I went too far slathering over the iPad and some of its very neat apps (ABC’s is great; I watched the Modern Family about the iPad on the iPad and smugly loved being so meta). I am a toy boy at heart and didn’t stop to cast a critical eye, as TWiG’s iPadless Gina Trapani did. This morning on Twitter, I went too far the other way kvetching about the inconveniences of the iPad’s limitations (just a fucking USB, please!) in compensation. That’s the problem with Twitter, at least for my readers: it’s thinking out loud.

I’ll sleep with the iPad a few more nights. I might well rebox and return it; I don’t have $500 to throw away. But considering what I do for a living, I perhaps should hold onto it so I can understand its implications. And that’s the real point of this post: there are implications.

: MORE: Of course, I must link to Cory Doctorow’s eloquent examination of the infantilization of technology. I’m not quite as principled, I guess, as Cory is on the topic; I’m not telling people they should not buy the iPad; I don’t much like that verb in any context. But on the merits and demerits, we agree.

And Dave Winer: “Today it’s something to play with, not something to use. That’s the kind way to say it. The direct way: It’s a toy.”

: By the way, back in the day, about a decade ago, I worked with Intel (through my employer, Advance) on a web pad that was meant to be used to consume in the home (we knew then that the on-screen keyboard sucked; it was meant to be a couch satellite to the desk’s PC). Intel lost nerve and didn’t launch it. Besides, the technology was early (they built the wireless on Intel Anypoint, not wi-fi or even bluetooth). Here’s the pad in the flesh. I have it in my basement museum of dead technlogy, next to my CueCat.

: More, Monday: NPR’s related report and Jonathan Zittrain’s worries.

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  • The way I see it, the nature of the iPad puts the ball in the Web’s court, so to speak. The only thing stopping Google Docs from solving your issues with document creation on the iPad is Google making it usable; Apple’s control approach has no bearing on the Web.

    I don’t have as much of a problem with Apple’s preference of a controlled system as it allows for a superior user experience. However, I do have an issue with app makers who think that control mindset should be extended to the content.

    The future is still open. Highly interactive apps will be more popular. They just need to be made. If anything, this is an opportunity for smaller publishers and independent creators to make interactive content. People want to interact and participate. All the content creators who don’t take advantage of that are just stalling, and will be left in the dust.

    Sent from an iPod Touch.

    • I forgot to mention, as long as there are people in the world with this attitude, approach, and vision, I’m not worried about the iPad’s closed nature on the app side: http://280atlas.com/resources.php

      • Well stated Alec. I agree with the basic premise of Jeff’s piece, but in the end it is up to end user to determine what experience they want.

        Ultimately, we *are* largely an “audience” and behave like one. It is a fact that there are still a huge number of folks, even in mature markets, who have no interest in either content creation, or deep connections with technology.

        My projection is that Apple has done a great job of breathing life into a space that has floundered for a long time (slates). They’ve thrown down a usability and accessibility gauntlet and, of course, they’ve done it in their way which means you get all of the Apple downsides as well (closed ecosystem, tight control, monoculture, etc)

        I still think the slate form factor is a stop gap and a niche, but within the niche I anticipate entries from Microsoft’s ecosystem and Google’s to carve out a larger share than what Apple will be able to largely for the reasons Jeff states above.

  • Colorful article Jeff, but I take issue with those who say the iPad left anything out. Camera? I have one, I can’t imagine taking pictures with something the size of a textbook. A front facing camera would be interesting, but also a potential issue in schools where the iPad will undoubtedly find a home. USB? Meh… My MacBook has a largely unused USB port. USB like floppy drives are just another legacy technology that’s not really needed.

    The iPad does enough AS IS, saying it needs more is like saying a Ferrari needs a toaster oven. It’s not SUPPOSED to have more, if it did, it wouldn’t be a Ferrari… or an iPad. Now quit complaining about it, and go out and drive fast. ;)

    Brett Schulte from an iPad

    • Brad he’s not just talking about function. it’s the function as it relates to the implication of business strategy and shaping the consumer community. Look at the forest.

      • I think it’s less about business strategy and more about Apple wanting something dead simple. I’m really looking forward to iPhone OS 4.x as I think it will address a lot of the biggest complaints (printing, file storage, etc.)

    • Brett,
      I think the iPad form would be perfect for video conferences and making videos. I wish I could have made TWiG with it. Just prop it up and look at it.

      • ChangSeaa

        hmm so do we take this to mean if it had a camera its usefulness would then out weigh your apparent strong distain for Apples closed architecture and business model? interesting! More interesting however Jeff is how someone can wax lyrical about the love of a device on Twig a mere week ago and then return it on philosophical grounds. Shallow and vapid? Yes, yes indeed.

        • See my earlier post in which I apologized for my shift. I’ve been quite open about it.

      • Dan

        Hey, Jeff, I like listening to you on TWiG.

        1. If the iPad had a front-facing camera, you still would have returned it;
        2. I would love a front-facing camera and I disagree with the “it would be looking up your nostrils” thinking. Right now, in the case, the iPad is tilted its 20 degrees and I’m looking right into it. It would be fine.
        3. As long as Safari is included, this is plenty open. As for creating, that’s exactly why I bought it. I get a lot of work done using Pages (which could be better) and using Numbers.
        4. The apps are great. This isn’t just about news. You can buy drawing programs, I watch Leo’s podcasts using the TWIT app, which is a lot nicer than watching it in the browser, etc.

      • James

        Brett. You don’t think Apple approaches the development of new products with a business strategy at the forefront?

    • Derek B

      Brett, what possible use would a school have for these devices? They are poor at creating content, are excessively expensive for what they provide.

      As for USB devices, I find a use for these every day. Between my thumb drive that I used to move content from one computer to another to my digital camera to my phone, I almost always have something plugged into my USB ports.

      But you’re right, it’s not supposed to have more, which is why it’s a crappy product to begin with. It might be a Ferrari, but it’s a Ferrari with only 1st gear. It might look nice but you paid a premium for no functionality.

      • Derek,

        I see great potential for the iPad in schools, and you can see my case for this on my blog. In short, don’t see the iPad as replacing the computer. See it as replacing the textbook. Have you seen The Elements app? Imagine this as an anatomy textbook. The textbook industry has been robbing students for a long time. Soon teachers will realize that the info in these textbooks is widely available and free … and if it isn’t yet, they will make it so.

        As for the closed OS … for schools, this is a benefit. Much greater stability.

  • We are at a crossroads with the old command and control centers. And that includes economic control which has become fragmented and for many (mobile app developers to service providers) volume based.

    The social web may not be an evolution in communications but a cycle. That’s perhaps what the content providers want. The novelty of creation is wearing thin and the surely the costs in time to be a creator is not reaping the financial gains necessary to continue producing content. Right thankfully we can’t all be Jeff Jarvis.

    I believe the next 12 – 18 months will determine evolution or cycle. Your point is right on, “They are deluding themselves into thinking that the future lies in their past” It’s the 60 year old middle managers that need this to work. Just get me to retirement without disrupting my revenue models and then you can have your friggin’ web back.

    I interviewed Scoble a couple years ago, I asked can this social web really change a culture, corporate or society’s culture. He said to some degree it will, but we’ll likely get their by attrition, after a while old thinking dies off.

    I would find this more amusing if I wasn’t 51 years old.

    al the best to you and your readers.

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  • Don’t leave out this acid reply to Doctorow in Gizmodo.

    “The old guard has The Fear. They see the iPad and the excitement it has engendered and realize that they’ve made themselves inessential—or at least invisible. They’ve realized that it’s possible to make a computer that doesn’t break, doesn’t stop working, doesn’t need constant tinkering. Unlike a car, it’s possible to design a computer that is bulletproof. It just turns out that one of the ways to make that work is to lock it down. That sucks, but it certainly appears to be a better solution than design by committee gave us for the last couple of decades.”

    • Heh. It’s a game of slap the old guard. But who’s the old guard? Media people? Tech people? Who’s the new guard? Grandma? Where’s my scorecard?

      • josh

        Jeff, your career hinges on slapping the old guard, so I figured you’d have your well-worn scorecard handy. :)

        Here is a device that essentially makes the techno geeks redundant. They’ve built an industry fixing the inherent faults of PCs and now they fear the “normals” won’t need them any longer.

        As a fan of “disruptive technologies” I should think you’d be glad that the iPad is giving the old guard geeks the fear. Or are you fearful it may disrupt your great Googly god?

    • Gizmodo’s response hinges entirely on the bogus claim that “it’s possible to make a computer that doesn’t break, doesn’t stop working, doesn’t need constant tinkering.”

      Apple’s PR department works overtime to promote this notion, and their salespeople love it, but it’s nonsense. “It just works” sounds great until your laptop, your phone, your tablet, your whatever craps out, WHICH IT WILL.

      Apple hardware and software breaks down and gums up just like everyone else’s, and anyone who tells you different is either deluded, misinformed, or lying.

      • Ian Betteridge

        I’ve had the iPhone since it launched. In all that time, it’s crashed on me once. Sure you can break one – but it’s massively more reliable than any other computer device I’ve ever had, in 30 years of using computer devices.

      • I’m sure that’s true. I also know that my XP laptop has never crashed in 3 years.

        However, both of those statements are anecdotal, and don’t really prove anything.

  • Jeff, I love your blog. I love your book. I love your podcasts.

    Nonetheless, I can’t help but think you don’t like the iPad because newspapers like it.

    Just because Time wants to sell an expensive worthless app doesn’t mean that people will buy it.

    The iPad still has a browser and all the economies of the web still hold true with the iPad. The fact that you can make a custom app wont change anything. In the end, I think the idea of packaging content as an app will disappear over time. There is no reason to make an app other than to access hardware features or to use some advance logic (eg: games). Anything which can be done via the web probably will.

  • I wonder if there isn’t room for both. No one eschews the television set because it’s solely a content consumption device with locked down content. In fact, you could easily say the TV is a toy. A really really dumb toy. At least the iPad is much more interactive than a TV and in many ways much less locked down.

    Think of the iPad as replacing the TV and magazine, not the personal computer, and I think you’ll be less concerned about what it portends.

    • Good points, Leo. But decisions were made not to allow the iPad to do some things and in those decisions, I fear we see a needless taking away of options and a regression of control. Why? That’s what I’m trying to ask.

      • “decisions were made not to allow the iPad to do some things”

        You’re assuming that Apple had infinite engineering resources, design options and time, which are not necessarily axiomatic. None of us outside 1 Infinite Loop know exactly why a camera or more input options/USB weren’t part of the iPad 1.0; maybe it was a policy decision, maybe it was an engineering constraint.

        Perhaps Apple tried to do exactly what you’re describing (as hinted by the rumors of a camera spot on the hardware) but couldn’t make it work gracefully with the device ergonomics and the UI. Likewise, maybe the requisite hooks for mass storage or freeform I/O aren’t yet part of ‘OS X touch’ (which needs a better name, FWIW) and Apple could not stabilize them in time. Maybe adding complexity to a device designed for simplicity isn’t all that spectacular an idea.

        The point is that you’re assuming motives, intent and strategy from a rather limited set of facts. Realizing that iPad 1.0 doesn’t meet all of your desires for remixing and collaboration ? “Apple is fascist.”

        To Leo’s point about TV, I would also add radio, movies and print as traditional media which can be liberated (not circumscribed and locked down) by iPad. Your ability to respond, build community, vote up/down, or link & tweet all these things is not impaired by the iPad; it’s enhanced. For generations of people who’ve been yelling at their televisions, this is a big step forward.

        (With respect to the Time magazine app… well, as a former Time Incer it pains me to say that I don’t think it’s going to do very well as it’s currently designed. Fortunately, there’s an app store — and a web browser — for that, and a better mousetrap can and will be built.)

      • “Realizing that iPad 1.0 doesn’t meet all of your desires for remixing and collaboration ? “Apple is fascist.””

        There should be a ‘does not equal’ symbol right before “Apple is fascist.” Apparently the comments editor strips Unicode. :-(

    • AnonymousCoward

      The problem is that it’s not true. The iPad is doing way more than replacing the TV and magazines, because the iPad does more. It’s not a simple substitution. Even if it was, the direction it is headed towards is quite frustrating for anyone that cares a little bit about openess, choice, etc.

      The only way one can be “less concerned” is if they simply ignore the destination we are headed towards.

      • Eric Eskam

        “The problem is that it’s not true. The iPad is doing way more than replacing the TV and magazines, because the iPad does more. It’s not a simple substitution.”

        If in the process of launching the iPad all other general purpose computers simultaneously were to vanish, your angst might be justified.

        “The only way one can be “less concerned” is if they simply ignore the destination we are headed towards.”

        And what destination would that be?

  • Scott O’Raw

    It seems that this is a case of careful what you wish for. If you cast your mind back to the first iPhone keynote, Jobs was adamant that all apps would be web based. No fair, we cried. Give us the ability to run applications, designed by us, natively on the phone. And that’s what we got – admittedly with the app-store-submission, control-freakery caveat!

    You are right, Jeff, Apple has deliberately handicapped this device but maybe that’s what the great unwashed actually wants. Not every Grandma may want the ability to do anything other than be the audience. It may well be that the majority of Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles and everyone in between would prefer just to be the audience in certain situations (news delivery, entertainment etc). Personally, I don’t think that’s the case even now and I would bet that only being more so as time goes on.

    However, the market will, ultimately, decide whether purposely crippled devices like the iPad succeed or fail – and even if it is a runaway success and we all revert back to being just the audience, the geeky Grandma will seek out the alternative choices offered, perhaps, by Google.

    To a certain extent, in Apple’s mind, the market has spoken. They offered us web-apps we wanted something else. As I say, careful what you wish for.

    P.S. I was unaware of the USB drives’ predilection to procreation – extraordinary ;-)

  • Ichiro

    Great blog!

    Im not sure I agree completely with your concern about the iPad, Apple closed app store causing as much problems as you say. Sure I love my Apple products but at the same time I don’t see a closed system like the iPhone / iPad ever replacing my laptop. I use my laptop / desktop for content creation of course and I use my iPhone, iPad, TV, Boxee..etc as my content consumption device / system.

    I think the iPad is perfect solution for my living room, bedroom, vacation device. For most of the employees that I support the iPad is perfect for their business trips, all they need is e-mail and browser. I do agree that not having a USB port sucks.

    From reading your post I get the feeling that the iPad does not fit YOUR needs, but please keep in mind that it does fit other peoples needs. Competition is good right? Im looking forward to Google and other companies response to the iPad.

    Let the market play it out, it’s only been 1 day.

    Thanks for all your great work and..
    Bababooie! :)


  • I really think you have missed the point of the iPad Jeff its not for creating at least not like your Macbook like steve said its a device in between your computer and your phone. As for the wall garden with no interaction you are wrong example how did you share something that you read in a paper magazine or news paper in the past by telling people that mecanism is still there you can tweet about it you can still email you comments to friends and share you thoughts on facebook. Yes you can’t comment directly on articles but that doesn’t stop you from sharing you opinion. Yes I agree Apple can be pig headed when it come to Apps but there isnt to much you can’t do with an App on the iPhone OS these days without the creativity of Of App developers the iPhone OS would be nonthing it certainly wouldnt have the market share it not has. As for a camera yeah agreed a front facing camera would be nice I’m sure we will see it in iPad 2.0 but to take picture I certainly don’t see a need imagine trying to take a pic holding up you ipad no going to happen. I do agreem with you points about document transfer but don’t fear thing is an area I’m sure services like dropox or box.net or even google doca might fill. As for USB don’t see a need with 802.11 n wifi and 3 g if you choose connectivity to the cloud is all you need you should be able to see that considering your Google love. Ok I’ll stoP ranting now I do see your points but I can’t see there logic give the iPad time I can personally see us saying one day it the not too distant future I don’t how we ever lived without this new device catagory.

    Peace Jeff keep up the good work.


    • Travis

      wow, after that i’m just hoping it has punctuation.

  • Many millions of people only use a computer for consuming content, they are not really interested in creating content or want the total freedom of the internet, they just want certain things. I have many friends who I would say only use 10% of a computers capability and to me the iPad is ideal for these people.

    There will always be freedom of information on the internet and the opportunity to create and comment for the people who wish for this.

    I will get an iPad when I save the pennies but it won’t replace my desktop but it will stop me buying a laptop.

    As for the paywalls if I think content is worth paying for I will pay for it but if not then I will go elsewhere, let the marketplace decide. I’m not fearful of Apple or the media companies, the only fear I have is Governments restricting the freedom of internet.

  • You, like so many others in the past few days (most notably Cory) seem to suffer Apple Enragement Syndrome, the primary symptom being an inability to relate a cogent argument in the face of the release of iPad.

    No one forced you to buy it. There are no surprises about what it does and doesn’t do. It never claimed to be anything other than it is. So why are you so upset?

    • And the reason people complain about missing features is that most actually love the things the iPad does so much. So it is not so much a dislike of the iPad itself, but a craving for more of it. I like the form-factor, handling, user-interface, so give me more feature for more apps on it.

      It was clear from the beginning what you would get with the iPad. Whether the limitations have been a deliberate decision to please the content owners or just technical, manufacturing and release date issue is to be seen.
      Clearly Apple is focussing very strongly on the content revenue through iTunes and the AppStore and making content partners happy is obviously vital for this. Steve Jobs himself seems to have worked on this intensively.
      Additionally Apple and again Steve Jobs is also not known for releasing products that they don’t believe “perfect” for the purpose.

      So one can assume that this first release of the iPad was planned exactly like it is now.

      On the other hand there have been reports already about the “camera-hole” in the iPad’s unibody, so I would guess camera is definitely something to come in the future.

  • What iPod did to record industry?
    Accelerated the downfall and mergers of record industry as we knew it.

    Did it make CD or albums popular again?
    Nope, it made songs the key product.

    Do we miss the layout of cd jewel cases, carefully selected track listings on an album or the idea of an album?
    Hardly. They were replaced by playlists, ratings, party mixes and now – with Spotify – shared listening in the cloud.

    iPad will not save newspapers or magazines, it will only accelerate the decline of traditional media industry and strengthen the single great story -based culture the social media has helped to build.

    PS. And I completely agree: WTF is the camera, Steve?

    • ChangSeaa

      Well said Pekka. All these idealists whining on about openness and demanding more more more and on their terms, alll the while the very freedoms afforded them to pontificate are only even possible thanks to the very companies they seek to deride. What so-called open platform has achieved any kind of success – let alone changed the world immeasurably for the better several times over?

  • For the last few days, we have been inundated by technophiles about the iPad. The media response has been quite over the top, but in the midst of all of this I must take issue with the conceit you chose relating an iPad to a woman. “She’s sweet and pretty but shallow and vapid.” Seriously? For all of the forward steps women take in science and technology, comments like this consciously and unconsciously move us all a step or two backward. “It’s a toy” is not equivalent to she is brainless but good for a romp. Sexism is sexism and is not “cute” nor “appropriate for retweets.” The iPad is a piece of hardware with some software thrown in, plain and simple. Love it or hate it, it’s out there. Rant about it, rave about it, but let’s not disparage each other in the process.

  • Brian Gillespie

    After umpteen iPad posts and RTs Jeff complains about too many iPad stories in the news. In a word, ‘Ironic’.

    After massively contributing to the iPad hype on Saturday, Jeff tries to regain his Google fanboy cred lambasting it on Sunday. In a word, ‘Manic’.

    Manic + Ironic. In a word, ‘Moronic’? Your behavior on Twitter which is driven by a desire to be RTed drives you to the extremes instead of the reasonable. You sound like every political pundit on Fox and MSN.

    On paywalls; It perfectly fine to let the market sort out the issue. Without a doubt it will. Some will succeed and others will fail. But to try to support good journalism with Adsense or some other click ads would just degrade the Journalism into linkbait bullshit that is proliferating on the web. That type of economics will drive the content, and that’s bad.

    As for Leo’s point, the iPad is good enough to replace the computer for better than half of the people who have multiple computers at home. It will also appeal to a percentage of the people who don’t have a computer. Being a Tech Guy who hangs out with other tech guys, I think that Leo doesn’t release that he is in the minority of the general population.

    • Brian Gillespie

      That should have read realize not release. Some day I’ll learn to proof before pressing submit.

  • I must agree with you Jeff, even as a long-time Apple evangelist I cannot ignore the implications that the iPad’s release presents. It also makes Google’s lack of focus (NexusOne, Wave, Buzz all busts) that much more paramount. Apple is able to enjoy device ubiquity because of hardware design & UI usability and most consumers accept this (not understanding the implications of this decision) at the peril of the future of the web.

    The internet is at its best when its democratic, free and blurs the line between content creation & content consumption. The iPad is unapologetically none of these things.

    However, what truly scares me is that the browsing experience (gated apps, lack of interoperability) is for the first time being brought to a device that is primarily used at home where the most intense online interaction takes place. That type of interaction has been accepted on mobile phones because apps were the first medium that provided a rich user-experience. But at home we have always had a very rich user-experience and we may be giving that up for a shiny new device with a pretty cool UI.

  • q

    I completely disagree. Having played with it for a solid several hours after downloading almost every free app available for it, there’s definitely plenty of opportunities for content creation with absurdly fun ways for mixing and mashing using full-hand multi-touch. And many of the apps are only scratching the surface. It simply also provides a locked-in experience for the content providers that are paranoid about their content being pirated. So F* Time Magazine! Or maybe they took the quick route to producing an app and will add features as time goes on. Other content creators can and do provide means for commenting. There’s also plenty of feed readers that integrate twitter, facebook, google and other services for commenting on feeds or posting content and several apps for uploading doodles, writing music and sharing music, tracking projects, google docs, all in the cloud. To me, it feels like the thing is part of the cloud not just participating in the cloud. As apps become more sophisticated, the protected aspect of content will give the paranoid content providers more incentive to produce intriguing content they would have avoided otherwise and it still gives the content creators that understand the benefit of mashing up content the ability to provide those features.
    And for USB, please! Bluetooth!! It’s a wireless device and Bluetooth is the predominant, short-range device interface.

  • BobTD

    Am sure others have already said this, but it bears repeating:

    1. The iPad has USB connectivity. From what I gather you can just drag documents onto it when it’s connected to your computer.

    2. The iPad has an amazing web browser, probably the best on any mobile platform, and supports modern, open, web standards for taking advantage of web-based apps.

    3. There are plenty of things you simply can’t do just via web apps. Anything that wants to fully utilise the iPad hardware (i.e. the graphics, animation, 3D, etc.) is best written in Objective-C and compiled into ARM machine code that runs at full speed on the CPU. There’s simply no way around this. You just can’t do everything in JavaScript you know!

    • It’s a USB stick I want. And a port to do other things.

      • Eric Eskam

        There is a port. It already offers USB for camera connectivity, an SD card adaptor and compatibility with thousands of existing iPod/iPhone accessories.

        In addition to Bluetooth and Wifi! The sky’s the limit…

  • I’m surprised that it’s such a surprise this morning. The debate has been
    going on for months: Apps vs. the desktop, and vertical branded apps vs. the whole messy Internet. But I’d like to hear more about the problems working with Google Docs. I downloaded an app that lets me edit, copy and move Google Docs. Am I missing something?

  • Among many questions, Jeff: How does a device with fast wifi and an elegant browser “shift from a page- and site-based internet to one built on apps.”

    I’d say the apps are additive — and they won’t capture users unless they do something better.

    • RIght. And the NYTimes is a better experience in its iPhone app than in the iPhone browser. I love it. But with that comes implications: fewer links out and in, for example. Will content in apps be reachable via search? And so on…

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  • I am an “outsider” to this issue as I am a PC user and don’t even own an iPhone (until my contract expires in July). And I will leave it to you youngsters to battle the apps vs. web issues. However, as I read your post Jeff, I was reminded of the early days of personal computers.

    My first personal computer (1980, I believe) was an Apple II. If I remember correctly, my only other choices at the time were Commodore, Radio Shack’s Z-something or other and maybe a couple others – no Microsoft based anything. I choose Apple because there were hundreds, maybe thousands of software programs while all of the others a only dozens.

    I later upgraded to Apple IIe, Mac, “Fat Mac” and eventually an FX. Oh, somewhere in there I had a notebook. However, sometime in the early ’90s I got tired of swimming upstream and migrated to a PC with Windows 95.

    During this time I watched Apple’s huge market share dwindle to single digits because they wanted to control everything… the operating system, the hardware and even the software applications. Meanwhile, Microsoft was licensing their operating system to everyone and quick stole Apple’s market share.

    I owned a business with about 50 Macs. I spent a fortune trying unsuccessfully to get them networked (AppleTalk) and talking to each other. On top of that the disks were formatted so no one with a PC could use them and even with advent of email, PC users couldn’t open the attached Mac files. That year I migrated to PCs.

    I loved my Macs. Even to this day I say the biggest difference between Mac and PC was that the PC is just a PC but I had a relationship with my Mac. Nonetheless, here I sit with a PC. I know a lot of things have changed with Mac and Apple since then but I still have a PC,

    Enough preamble… Jeff, as I read your thoughts about how closed the iPad is compared to the openness of the Android, I can’t help but wonder if Apple has learned from their mistakes. I am no doubt out of my field in this discussion but I am a businessman. Apple has done a fantastic job of marketing and creating a buzz with iPhone (I will buy one in July) and I found the foreplay for the iPad very exciting and stimulating… I am even thinking I might buy one. But I read unbiased reviews, I am having second thoughts. I was able to turn my “Fat Mac” into a goldfish bowl but I’m not sure what I could do with the iPad. I guess I could add it to my pile of PDAs, GPS’ and other devices that were replaced with my cell phone and other devices.

    Well so much for the thoughts from a geezer… :-)

  • I don’t know, Jeff… I never expected to do much more than consume with it. I saw it as a better iPod rather than a better laptop. After all, I never worried that the Kindle would turn people into mere consumers of books, rather than authors.

    So I have been pleasantly surprised, for example, by how good the onscreen keyboard is, and I can use my bluetooth keyboard if wanted…

    I’m more likely to have this with me than I am a laptop, and I’m more likely to create content on it than I am on an iPhone. So I think content creation may increase rather than decrease for me.

    Your point about data being locked inside apps is a good one, though needs to be balanced perhaps with, say, the adoption of the open epub format for books, which could result in an increase in the amount of searchable data out there when compared to things like the Kindle…?

  • Stephen Pickering

    Reading this post on my iPad is so much more enjoyable an experience than any other Internet device Ive ever used. it has the feeling of connecting the digital and analog worlds. I get up to sweeten my coffee here at Starbucks and I bring your blog with me like I would do a paper or magazine article that I am absorbed in.

    I really think people are over handicapping this device and the whole app ecosystem. Apps are not the reason for success, they are the result of success. the reason for it’s success it’s it aesthetic experience in form and function. Nothing matches the beauty, the speed, of how this thing works.

    That’s the killer app: User Experience. the Grandma comment is actually a compliment. Grandma had the common sense not to put up wih crap that Microsoft put us through, forever to boot ,ugly experience, them seemingly happy as they bogged are systems down, deteriorating are experience. And
    we shouldn’t have either.

    and look this comment is made from the iPad!

    having said that Im wondering why Google Docs doesn’t work on this thing.

    If it’s Apple blocking it like they did Voice, then that’s really lame and will come back to bite them. but let’s let the Mr. Market regulate Ms Ipad. For now I like her moves.

  • Jeff,

    I too believe we are transforming our computing experience with the dawn of the Apple iPad. And some of the changes are not for the better. But the device will find it’s sweetspot. Education? eTextbooks? Beginning computers?

    My morning after thoughts include the idea that it’s just a computer in a new form. http://bit.ly/ipad-hangover

    @jmacofearth \ uber.la

  • the saddest part of this tech drivel is that the person who wrote is seems to have no imagination. yes, the ipad is made for apps. but that is great. it is not great because we now have amazing apps available to us, no, it is great because of the apps that will be available to us. some of these might be available in a month, some in a year or so. some maybe even tomorrow. to say that apps are sandboxed is also just ridiculous, most apps that succeed and stand the test of time actually integrate extremely well across all kinds of web apps (twitter, facebook, email …). it is sad to see a so called industry expert take the current status quo at face value, extrapolate from what the WSJ adn NYT are offering, but completely ignoring apps like smule for example … just the amount of really interesting music and graphic apps that are already available is staggering and while the ipad might not result in an explosion of geeks and nerds, it might result in a generation of musicians and graphic designers, which wouldn’t be bad either.
    just use your imagination and let the ipad be your canvas. but if you don’t have it, then maybe go back to your windows computer and work on some spreadsheets

  • Bryan

    As long as the iPad has a web browser, I don’t see how it can be considered a closed system. For an application to be successful, it must compete against the open Web. The Time Magazine app and others like it will fail because the web has more to offer.

    The iPhone was very limited when it was first released. The platform exploded because others saw the potential and ran with it. The iPhone succeeded despite Apple’s original intentions. I expect the same thing to happen with the iPad. I can’t wait to get mine at the end of the month.

  • Dan Pacheco

    Good points about the walled-garden nature of apps. That drives me crazy on the iPhone, too.

    But don’t forget that the iPad, iPhone and iTouch all have a really excellent standards-based browser that is finally useful on the larger iPad screen. The keyboard in the iPad is also much better and usable than I expected. In fact, I’m writing this comment with it. I also read you post from my iPad.

    In addition, app builders can choose whether or not to include interactivity in their apps. The Twitter clients I use most on the iPhone do a good job of letting you link and share. I end up avoiding the ones that don’t make linking easy. I also find myself avoiding most news apps that don’t have sharing capabilities.

    I think the consumer and marketplace will triumph and drive iPad apps to be more social based in their usage patterns. But the iPad and its Tablet cousins are about more than the apps.

    • BobTD

      Re: the walled garden of apps

      I think one key point that everyone is missing about this is security. Apple is taking this opportunity to move towards an environment in whic it’s really hard for “bad apps” to end up on the iPhone/iPad, and if they do it has a way to disable them. iPhone OS will not run code that has not been signed either by Apple or by the developer of the app (using an Apple-supplied certificate) – this goes a long way to ensure that the app you download is what you think it is and hasn’t been modified by a third party. If Apple were to allow apps to be downloaded from any website this chain of trust goes out the window.

      Compare this with the Windows world where new virus, trojans and exploits come out daily. Do you really want to have to start worrying about getting a good virus/malware scanner for your phone or tablet?

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  • I’ve been wary of Apple products from the very beginning. At the time, I asked myself ‘why would I want a computer with 5% market share vs. 90% market share – where will I get applications for it in the future & how much will they cost’? Why would I buy a computer from people who insist on it running their own OS software and insist that I buy both only from them?

    The i Phone has made that evident – I can only buy software from Apple’s store and if Apple changes their mind about an ap that I bought they can remotely wipe it from the phone and ban it from the store. If I jailbreak the phone, they will un-jailbreak it from the back rooms at Apple. Big brother has arrived. Now the i Pad is following in the phone’s footsteps. Steve Jobs is only interested in having a captive audience and milking them for every penny he can get his hands on. I’d rather have a a laptop/net book running MS software – if I get pissed of with MS I can wipe the device and install Linux and be on my way. If MS tried acting like Apple there would be an uproar. Apple products are for suckers.

    • Josh

      @Jim Thor

      “Steve Jobs is only interested in having a captive audience and milking them for every penny he can get his hands on.”

      Putting aside the sheer horror of a capitalist company seeking to make money, here’s a scenario for you to avoid giving Dear Leader any of your cash, while still owning an iPad:

      iPad: Buy it off eBay (or drop Jeff a DM on Twitter and ask for his).

      Music: Rip your own CDs or – if you’re that way inclined – nick them from the interwebs.

      Videos: See above (replacing CDs with DVDs, naturally).

      Books: Use something like Stanza and grab a huge range of out-of-copyright books or even use the Kindle app if you don’t mind giving Amazon some cash (are they interested in milking you? I haven’t got this week’s memo).

      Apps: Only download free ones from the App Store, there’s plenty to keep you amused.

      That way there’s not a single penny going from your pocket to El Jobso’s (unless Amazon charge for the Kindle app, in which case Steve will be dining out on 30% of the purchase price).

    • BobTD

      Well, imagine you’re buying a car: you could get an expensive BMW, which has 5% market share, or a cheap Toyota, with a considerably larger market share. Is the car with larger market share the best?

      And regarding Linux… it has a tiny market share on the “desktop” and currently shows no signs of becoming popular with the masses. If you’re the kind of person to whom being able to install Linux on your computer is important, then yes, the iPhone and the iPad are not for you. The truth is that the vast majority of people don’t care about Linux, however: they just want something that works well and is appealing to use.

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  • Jeff, I think you are misjudging the iPad.

    1. Camera: Y’know that would be awkward to use on such a sized item. To make snaps with the iPad would be silly. Better to use a real camera, and find a way to get the pics onto the pad. (connectivity kit with SD port & USB port dongles are coming)

    2. Ports. It’s got plenty of ports just not USB. WiFi, Bluetooth, and the dock port can all be used for a variety of connections. Cameras with WiFi are likely to come on the market (plus there are cards to make regular cameras wifi enabled). Bluetooth not only can be used for audio and keyboard. But 3rd parties can use it to communicate with their own devices (and can do it with the dock connector too).

    3. Creativity.

    Fer crying out loud. Art software, Blogging Software, iWork apps. It has a microphone built in. There are plenty of opportunities to be creative on the ipad. What did you expect it to do that it doesn’t.

    It may not be all things for all creative endeavors, but that’s why there’s still laptops, hell you NEED a separate computer to get the bloody iPad started! So the iPad shouldn’t be judged as the potential one machine to rule them all.

    Now if your opinion was more “meh, not all that big a deal after all” I’d understand better. The whole “stifling of creativity” line has been one I’ve never really understood. You’d think we were all being forced to turn off our minds and imaginations.

    Don’t fall for the hype that it’ll give so much control to the media again. Publishers, and others are under the delusion that this device will allow them to start charging more for content. (or in some cases, start charging).

    Time magazine’s low reviews for its $5 single issue app is already proving that plan is backfiring. (still hold Time-Warner stock?)

    The real problem with the publishers is that as you pointed out before, they want to price digital media in such a manner that it doesn’t threaten to cut into old media sales. It’s the, “cash cow in the coal mine”, all over again.

  • My last word:

    Give it time. I think that as with the iPhone, the real magic will happen with what can be done with the apps.

    And I suspect that the ‘cloud’ will be the big storage device in the iPad’s future, not flash memory.

  • Jan Cifra

    Jeff I think you misunderstand the iPad.

    I am not sure whether Apple ever said that it is a consumption device. Sure the native apps suggest it on some level but what is really important is that Apple didn’t provide us a device saying – this is the only way you can use it. The provided a platform with rules/boundries – as you your self hint at this is were Google fails at the moment. The advantage in this approach is that there are many levels on which the iPad will be used. Simple users with simple needs, sophisticated users with special needs, heck even Gina’s hacker community gets a shot at it to circumvent the limitations set by apple (jailbreak anyone?).

    All the points you make about the newspaper industry, the need to understand the web – the iPad is the place where the faults of the news industry can be clearly seen. Instead of providing a great open web experience for the iPad for us to comment on, interact with, co-create, they provide a limited paywalled app. But it’s the content creators problem. Have you seen the SDK? Did Gina take a look? This device and it’s siblings from Google, Microsoft and whoever else is the last opportunity for content creators to learn and move on.

    If I were you I would applaud Apple for the bold move and for the contribution to an open web. They provided a platform where you can clearly see who gets it and who doesn’t. And they enabled people who have no clue and don’t care (my grandma) with the opportunity to still get the benefits. I don’t think an android device will be able to do that.

    Btw I use and HTC Desire – just to be clear I ain’t no Apple fanboy :)

  • The iPad is not built on apps and was not primarily advertised as such.

    “The best way to experience the web, email and photos.”

    That’s HMTL, IMAP and JPG/PNG.

    On one hand we have web developers telling us that you can create great apps with web technologies. On the other hand we have folk railing against the strictures of the app store. So where are the amazing HTML-based apps that should have been released on the iPhone in 2007 (when everyone was clamouring for a native SDK). Where are the apps?

    This is the same argument that Cory used – you can’t do on tiny fragment of the whole creativity spectrum on it and suddenly it’s a consumer trap. You can’t edit movies with “Final Cut Touch” so it’s useless. There’s no “LightRoom Touch” so it’s useless. You can’t self-host (as someone put it) so it’s useless. It doesn’t come with a web server, a print server and routing software so it’s useless.

    On the other hand I spent an hour on the phone working with my 65 year old, 70% blind father as he navigated his way around his Mac mini using the built-in magnification. He can’t get used to the idea that windows in the OS can overlap. He thinks the OS is hiding things from him. for him, multitasking is a challenge that he finds difficult to fathom. He finds the spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination required to operate a mouse to be a huge obstacle. Can you think of a better option than an iPad for him?

    But ignore this. This isn’t about the people for whom it would be a great enabler, this is about the micro-percentages of alpha geeks who really wanted something else and aren’t happy to just go out and buy something else.

    So we have Jeff shouting that he wants USB? For a USB stick and what else? A printer? In 2010 we have someone shouting for sneakernet and dead tree + ink? this would be laughable if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

  • Consumers are not intelligent enough to think for themselves. Steve Jobs is a bit like a cult leader, hordes of sheep just follow. None of the media outlets will want to be left out, none want to be the weird kid in the class room, all Press and Media have to praise anything Apple does, give Apple more free publicity in the media than any other company has ever received.

    The fact on the market is there are alternatives that are BETTER than Apple. But those alternatives are being ignored. Anything that runs Android is better than Apple.

    Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android is half the price of the iPad and comes with plenty extra features compared with it. There are about 50 manufacturers who have been showing better Android tablets at consumer trade shows these past 9 months. Most importantly, the Android tablets are a lot cheaper than the iPad, going down to prices below $200 even below $100!

    As CNN clearly points out in this article, Apple stock is valued at over $200 Billion, Apple revenues are $50 Billion per year. iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad are currently more than half of Apple’s revenues. Fact is, everyone can see it coming, even Apple sees it coming, Android devices are just about to completely replace all iPhones, iPod Touch and iPads in the market. Completely replace.

    Who wants to pay $3000+ over 2-years for an iPhone when there are $150 Android smartphones coming up that can run free VOIP on Google Voice? Who wants to pay $500 for an iPad when there at $100-$200 Android Tablets just about to be at retail stores even available more broadly than Apple products?

    I think Apple can see it won’t be able to keep the same amount of revenues and profit margins flowing with open market Android alternatives available from all competitors combined (except Nokia/Palm/Microsoft who are not wanting to embrace the Android OS yet because they see Android as a threat as well).

    • Can you be more specific when the Android-based $150-for-the-life-of-the-product is going to appear? All of the ones so far still seem to need to have some sort of data connection unless you never leave the house or only hang about malls with free WiFi.

      My opinion is that there will be so many android based clones that the consumer won’t be able to tell them apart, the hardware platform will fragment more than it has already and no-one will make any money rendering the android handset market ultimately unsustainable.

      Also – have you used the Archos 5? I mean, jeez…

  • Eric Gauvin

    I think the iPad might fill the huge void of what I call “reading satisfaction” for digital media. The internet on a normal computer does not provide very much reading satisfaction. There are many things about printed media that are wonderful. I don’t think we need to replicate those in digital media, but discover new ones.

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  • Kevin

    Others have pointed out the weakness of a back facing camera: yes, i would like to use my 1.5lb ipad to take pictures when a 5 oz point and shoot would produce significantly better pics. For a front facing camera – do you really want to video conference where either you have to hold the device in front of your face the whole time, or hold it in your lap and have the camera is shooting up your nose? The better solution would be a dock add-on camera which can be properly positioned.

    ipad is better used for viewing, sorting, filtering, and minor edits to photos than taking them. Apple’s solution is an extra-cost camera connector. I’d like to see eye-fi produce a bluetooth SD card that lets a camera send images directly to the ipad.

    No USB. This is good. The device is meant to be portable, pick it up and go, not pick it up, disconnect a bunch of cables and go. Look to the network for your solution, not old technology. Dropbox and Box.net both have apps for keeping files sync’d on your iPhone, just need an update to support the new method of sending files to apps and you’ll have a far better solution than any USB drive can provide.

  • Eric Gauvin


    Your highly distorted views are failing you.

    With love,



  • Lynn

    Y’all geeks are talking as though these things are accessible. They are only accessible if you live in a city where you can get reliable high-speed internet. Isn’t it time we look at our country as a whole when it comes to communicating among ourselves rather than fragmenting into little groups and big groups and rich groups and poor groups that can’t talk to each other?

  • Jon Redman

    Yet another reason to be fed up with bloggers who think they because they can type, they can be an objective journalist. There are many people who still respect and look for a “professional” piece of written work. Why do we need every fifth word in an article to be a link to take you away from the main story? Is this just the rampant spread of ADD that keeps us from finishing something before we jump to the next? And must we inspire every reader to have give their opinion on everything they read? Given that 90% of the opinions are drivel, why must we be subjected to thinking everyone’s as smart as they think they are? We need editors of all types to distinguish the 1% of content that isn’t absolute crap. We just need to find the editors we trust.

  • Jon Redman

    Yet another reason to be fed up with bloggers who think that because they can type, they can be an objective journalist. There are many people who still respect and look for a “professional” piece of written work. Why do we need every fifth word in an article to be a link to take you away from the main story? Is this just the rampant spread of ADD that keeps us from finishing something before we jump to the next? And must we inspire every reader to have give their opinion on everything they read? Given that 90% of the opinions are drivel, why must we be subjected to thinking everyone’s as smart as they think they are? We need editors of all types to distinguish the 1% of content that isn’t absolute crap. We just need to find the editors we trust.

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  • Let’s see… Time App on iPad is $4.99/week? But on paper, I get the first six weeks of a Time subscription for $0.33/week and the following 28 weeks for $0.71/week… So, the first 34 weeks of a Time App cost $169.66 while I can get the same content for $21.94 on paper. Looks like a no-brainer to me…

    This reminds me of Newsweek’s effort to publish on CDROM’s back in the early 90’s. But, they were still cheaper than Time is today. Newsweek charged only $100 for four quarterly issues… See:

  • Stefano Mori

    I don’t disagree with distributed crowd mash ups and diverse streams, but I think you leave out the matter of scales.

    I just watched some Easter classic epics on TV: in one film, they employed seven thousand people in costume to stand around in a valley, just for one shot of a film. My wife and I discuss the film, and I might tweet about it, but there were more extras standing in that valley than will ever read my tweet.

    Give you another example: almost nobody builds their own home — there is an existing housing stock and most people just buy what’s available — it is cheaper and more convenient.

    Yes social mash up media is interesting and adds a great deal, but it is a new thinner layer, like a fine mesh, on top of everything else. Just like the internet is on top of the copper wire on top of old wooden poles planted in the ground. Things are made of layers, and I think you’re confusing thinner higher layer stuff, with deeper structures.

    The implications of the iPad’s lack of USB ports is a thinner issue than whether people can still grow beyond mere consumerism in the early 21st century. There are deep structures and there are thinner structures, and as geeks I think we sometimes forget the inconsequentiality of some things.

    Step right back — the iPad is a multitouch usable web tablet you can carry around almost like a book or clipboard. It is just appliance enough-like that you probably won’t be calling anyone to find out how to install Skype. Or if you do, the call will be shorter. There’s a threshold. I actually do think my 80 year old relative could handle it, just about. That’s not being mean to anybody, that’s just a simple fact that they were worried about using the new digital camera they’d just bought — and they hardly touched it before getting me round to explain things like, “the buttons do different things at different times, depending on what mode you are in”.

    As for big companies using it to shove expensive content down our throats, Scott McCloud has been asking for years for a means of micropayments for comics that would work. As long as Apple isn’t owned by monopolistic media companies and the iPad doesn’t become the monopoly tablet, there’s not a lot to worry about — lots of people can sell stuff on it.

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  • Jeff, the iPad is going to be packed with creation tools. This is going to be a brilliant machine to make music with and share it with others, for example. I’ve seen lots of them announced. And there are creation fields of creation as well. This is going be brilliant for creative people. Don’t only look at media companies as you know them.

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  • Jon

    That’s right. Apps make the user a reader and less a participant. That’s why enable a business model for a content creator. Content Creators not interested in making a profit should continue to produce for the pure web and give all value to Google.


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  • Masa

    Hello Jeff.

    I would like to comment about your view on iPad.
    In a nutshell, I disagree with your point that iPad should have had a USB port and Webcam because this is a device designed to enjoy mix of multimedia.

    People are so confused about what this device is for, and often ask if this would compete with Tablet PC or netbooks. Even writers in Media writes comparisons of iPad with other ones But, this is made specifically for multimedia consumption. Tablet PC has been the close competitor but it carried too much functionality and never reached out to majority of people and was only popular in niche markets. But, iPad will accelerate the contents industry that are made hybrid of interactive animation, videos, photos and letters. Once contents are available, other companies, like Sony and HP, will jump into this category and we will see many more multimedia players.

    Once contents are available and people start noticing that iPad is not for creation but more for consumption, they will start getting attracted to those contents, and whoever experiences the conversion of multimedia in one, they can never go back to old media, like just a book, or a video because the experience we will encounter is totally new and much easier to be absorbed and very exciting. But, this will take time, because it is hard for us to think outside box so suddenly.

    Success of iPad is guaranteed but the speed of its success depends on how fast contents become available and how fast people start realizing that this is a machine in entirely new category.

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  • Feri

    1. Neither Apple, nor fanboys said that iPad is something and only thing that some may use anytime, anywhere! I and all iPad users have to have a Pc/Mac computer for everything else! You should have it to turn it on, you should have it to do what it can’t do. I don’t see the iPad as a Creation Killer, because it did focus in an honest way on consumption and admit it loudly.

    2. You can create with Apps, we do: Mail, Tweet, Facebook, Blogs, Paint. You can have Apps that let you comment, send links or whatever else you can do on so called Open web! There is noting to stop developers to do that.

    3. when I am looking the way I use my laptop, iPhone and iMac, iPad can replace my Laptop, for someone else may replace something else, or nothing. iPad is not a device of Have it or Die! it’s just a device that may be useful for lots of people.

    4. If iPda is in a way revolutionary, it is not because of its apps or its close system, its about the way it let us manipulate computer task with our fingers. If any trends comes up from iPda, I think it would be in that direction, not in its close system. (as Mossberg suggest)

    5. Yes, it would be nice to have an open system with all features, but as you said simplicity is a very bloody important factor too, and I love my simple and close iPhone vs. all other open! full Featured! phones out there!

    6. iPhone/iPad with their apps can make people more creative that any other system. Look at the Flickr and see which device is more used for taking the pictures. Creativity can come from simplicity, no matter which platform we are dealing with.

  • QUOTE:
    > The iPad is retrograde. It tries to turn us back into an audience again.

    Jeff, the iPad does not have to TURN us into an audience. We are one, we always have been one and will probably stay one … for 60% – 99% of the time we are interacting with media.

    There is nothing crippling in that, as many commenters seem to imply (you among them). It has to do with the fact, that even someone who is an active participant on the web (like me), has a lot of other duties … and sometimes we want to relax a little. “Laid back” instead of “Jump in” as IBM once phrased it.

    Still, I am not denying the fact, that the web has given us the chance (and the means) to be small scale publishers, too. And if what we say matters (and at least a little bit original), we can reach an audience (sic!), that is much larger than we could have reached with a lot of money (or a huge amount of talent) just 10 years ago.

    But – while I understand the political impetus behind your opposition of some of Apple’s design principles – I really do not understand, why the iPad would (could) keep me from using this opportunity?!!!!! It contains an excellent browser – that does not “filter” content or keeps me from reaching any website in the world (as long as our governments don’t put up fences). And I don’t need more than a browser to participate on the web.

    The iPad is perfectly suited to the forms of participation which the great majority of people on the web use: ratings, faves, comments, tweets etc. And – while I think, I would not like to write an book with it – it is adequate for writing down a longer blog post. So … where exactly is the big wall, where are the shackles, which bind the iPad user from making his or her voice heard? :)

    There is an – already overused – comparison of Apple’s approach to product design with the evolution or cars. What Apple does is simply the same as what car makers did around the middle of last century: they are transforming computing devices from “technology” to “appliance”. This did not enslave drivers – nor will the iPad enslave (or mute) web users. But maybe be an automobile enthusiast of the 1940s or 1950s would feel restricted in his freedom when he would open the hood of a 2010 car … who knows?! :)

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  • Hi Jeff,

    I read your book and follow your blog with great interest, and saw you at BRITE and and has been promoting many of your thoughts in my country (Denmark).

    But after having used the iPad myself for some days, I have gotten this thought that can’t leave me: What if Jeff (and your partner in thought Clay Shirky) are completely wrong? What if the evolvement of media in the digital world isn’t away from one-way professional content and towards user generated content and control, but really the other way around? What if the rise of social media and free user content turns out to be a prelude to the rise of “the professional web”?

    You could argue that the evolvement of the printing press underwent exactly this same development. First a bunch of amateurs tried out a tons of different ways and printing formats and then they professionals took over and consolidated the whole thing. Case in point: In my country there were 100 times as many newspapers in the end of 1900 – many of the them created by volunteers – than there was 15 years ago at the height of the media boom.

    I have a sense that it’s wrong to assume that civilization is evolving towards more user control and more user generated content. More likely the web is moving towards a new kind of one-way centrally controlled web based professionalism that the best iPads is a taste of.

    Just a thought.



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  • Mike G

    “By the way, back in the day, about a decade ago, I worked with Intel (through my employer, Advance) on a web pad that was meant to be used to consume in the home (we knew then that the on-screen keyboard sucked; it was meant to be a couch satellite to the desk’s PC).”

    3Com had one that briefly got to market, called Audrey. But it was pre-WiFi (it existed but wasn’t common) and the processor was way underpowered and the proprietary browser sucked. Still… kind of amazed it’s taken ten years for a better one to come along.


  • Marco

    Hi Jeff, i think you are completly wrong about the iPad. It is great to use apps for creating stuff. Apps are not a step back but a big step forward in the streaming web. I use the apps i want and not the ones that paid the most for being in the top Google list. I understand that apples model is dangerous for Google search based business but that doen’t make the iPad dangerous for us all. That said i am curious about your involvement with Google. Do you own a lot of shares or something? Don’t confuse the danger of apps for Google with the danger for internet.

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  • Roberto Salermo

    How do the other devices liberate you? I’ve seen tablets before and didn’t see any liberating factor. Is a USB port the key to freedom?

    How different is an Android phone from the iPhone? Isn’t always being compared to the iPhone? If that is the case, how can it be liberating?

    Believe me, I don’t want to be tied down to any one system or company, but aren’t you, in fact, doing it with any open system?

  • linoj

    The author seems to take himself (and his iPad) a bit too seriously. Its not like all the pc’s in one’s life are going to get replaced by one 8×10″ piece of glass and plastic. Besides the ipad has Safari on it. And in all seriousness, innovation and competition will fix any shortcomings he fears. It’s only been out for 4 days!

  • James

    I would not have paid any more for an iPad with a camera. And, I don’t feel any need for a USB. I can use email, Evernote, MobileMe, whatever.

    The thing that makes Apple great is precisely that they don’t overcomplicate their products by catering to people like Jeff. Simplicity has many benefits.

  • David Pogue’s cant is not insulting, unless you want to inject a moralistic framework onto a simple observation about the iPad’s usability. [Insert many pithy observations here in same style as Jeff Jarvis] Now, let’s return to the issue of usability and see what a 2.5 yr old thinks of the iPad (if you’re a tech-curmudgeon please don’t be insulted): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT4EbM7dCMs&feature=youtube_gdata

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  • I was recently asked by a friend: “should I buy an iPad?”

    If I were more eloquent, I would’ve replied with something similar to this article. However, this friend already sees me (accurately) as a Google fanboy, so in fear of looking extremely biased, I replied, “Buy it if it does what you want it to do.”

    Most people don’t understand or even care about the political and economic implications of choosing between, say, an Apple or a Google product. Maybe ignorance is bliss in this case – the war is exhausting! =)

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  • Ronn

    Jeff – So glad you wrote this and pointed out the ‘limitations’ of the iPad and the failure of Apple to adequately design an appropriate product for the masses. It reminds me of why I am so mad at all the major camera manufacturers who, to this date, will not make a DSLR that allows me to take a picture, edit it in Photoshop, add it to a document, post it to my website and email it to a few people. And I want the form factor to remain as is!

    I know, I know… I can hook a DSLR up to my computer and perform all those functions. But, darn it, I want it ALL in one device and I (read as me wanting to be God) want to decide what that device is.

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  • Tom


    I enjoy you on TWIG, but this piece is a little absurd and here’s why: it’s just tech. We’re not talking about world leaders, or politics, or the nation’s financial difficulties, just tech. If you like the way the iPad works, buy it, if you don’t, then don’t.

    To think this device isn’t going to make anyone do what it doesn’t want to do.

    Take a deep breath, please.

    • Well, we disagree. I see a shift in the architecture of the internet and that’s much more than “tech,” as is the internet itself.

      • Tom

        Yes we do disagree, but not on whether or not it’s a shift in the architecture of the internet, because it clearly is, but ONLY for Apple devices. If you love Google products and use Google hardware, (Nexus 1, future chrome tablets) than that architecture won’t change for you at all. And if that’s what you want, (Google products) which I’m pretty sure it is, then you’ll be very happy with said products. But those like me who enjoy Apple products, enjoy the app experience better, the iPad is a natural progression.

        Which brings me to my over-arching point; isn’t it a GOOD thing that the internet can take whatever form a software designer would want? Absolutely.

        So let’s not try and make the internet fit into our own little box, just be what it is: a great tool and entertainment source that can be enjoyed in many forms, and leave it at that.

        And thanks for responding to me!

      • Tom

        My grammar is pitiful, I should have proof read.

      • Tom

        Hey Jeff,

        One more point; aren’t apps just a touch optimized version of the web? And if so, won’t apps phase out once all computers become touch because then the entire web would be touch optimized?

        I’m sure you’ve already moved on from this article, but I would love to know your thoughts on this.

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  • Everything that can be said has already been said in these comments, so I just wanted to say thanks for the fantastic article. You guys bored me with the iPad TWiG, but your thoughtfulness on the topic here in your blog was a wonderful breath of fresh air. Looking forward to many, many more great TWiGs and thoughtful posts like these.

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  • Enjoyed the discussion here very much. I too think the iPad could have had some options that I would have found useful that are not there. But in any design choices have to be made and things must hit the cutting room floor.

    What I do tire of are comparisons (mostly by techies) of the iPad to as-yet unavailable devices. “Why doesn’t the iPad have a camera when the WePad does?” Actually the WePad doesn’t have anything b/c I can’t buy it yet. Until it hits retail shelves and we can see it in action it really isn’t fair to make comparisons b/c what you are really doing is comparing it to your imagination and your imagination will always come up with something better.

    I’m not saying the iPad is the best device of this nature that will ever be but it really isn’t arguable that it is the best device currently available. Hopefully Google and others will do what they did with the iPhone – learn from and copy Apple and build better products that, in-turn, force Apple to respond in kind. Then everybody wins.

  • Eric Eskam

    @Pete Brown
    “”I’m sure that’s true. I also know that my XP laptop has never crashed in 3 years.”

    Yes, but you are probably a savvy user and know what you are doing. Give it to the average non-techncial person and before you know it, it will be a virus infested mess.

    I love all the Internet tough guys who like to shout how smart they are and how they never have problems. Great – I’m happy for you. You should realize you are in an extreme minority of the population. Most people either find technology baffling, or simply don’t care. To them a computer is a tool to surf the web, read email, play a game, run around on facebook, etc. They aren’t in it for the sake of technology like us geeks. They would rather have a root canal then try to figure out how to configure AV, firewalls or learn how to clean their computer after it gets infected. Worrying about finding their files on the hard drive because they didn’t pay attention to where they are being saved to (because why should one have to worry about that anyway?!?)….

    it’s a totally different mindset – one that technical people such as your self are quick to discount, ignore or outright ridicule.

    “However, both of those statements are anecdotal, and don’t really prove anything.”

    OK, here are two things that aren’t anecdotal:

    1) Apple *consistently* tops for customer satisfaction. It’s not even close.

    2) Part of that is they have support mechanisms in place if you do have a problem. Mainly the Apple stores. A physical place you can go to get in person support and feedback.

    Finally, if you are implying that an iPhone or an iPad is going to be just as needy for care and feeding as a Windows or Mac OS X computer, you are off your rocker. The very control and structure of the iPhone OS eliminates 99% of the problems that traditional desktop OS’s like Windows, Mac OSX or gawd forbid – Liniux – have. All the things that the techie geeks loathe are what makes the iPad perfect and highly desirable to my father. For the first time he’s having fun with technology. There is no mouse or track pad getting in the way for him – he can directly manipulate the objects on the screen. The mouse and trackpad never did make sense to him. He has had fun exploring, because it’s impossible for him to get lost. If he gets confused about where he is, all he has to do is click the Home button and he’s back to where he started. This is technology at a level that wasn’t really accessible to him before. That’s the magic of the iPad. No viruses, no malware and no worries. An appliance that does just what he wants.

    Big whoop if the techies don’t get it – it’s not their device :)

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  • Excellent article. Simple observation. You are good at seeing underlying trends and shifts in platforms and emerging media.

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  • Hey Jeff, I really enjoyed the article — thought-provoking as usual — but whenever I see a new article decrying the iPad, I can’t help thinking, “Lighten up! You’re falling for Apple’s hype by OVERREACTING to a cool new gadget.” Did all the folks moaning over the name ever wail about MS Notepad, WordPad or the IBM (now Lenovo) ThinkPad? Did all the prophets (and you ARE a prophet in the best sense) worrying about it’s locked-down nature get so hotted up about the Kindle, the Squeezebox or the latest HDTVs from Panasonic or Sanyo? I’ve got a desktop PC, a notebook, an iPhone and numerous Internet-connected devices, and I can’t wait to welcome this newcomer to the family. It’s not going to make me stop creating — in fact, I expect it will help me be more creative, by allowing me to read more efficiently — or abandon my other devices. But it WILL mean my website and yours can be read by more people, more easily and often than ever before. What’s not to like?

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  • Fred

    Jeff – I loved your book, and think your blog is very insightful. But I wish you would leave the f*** bombs out. I think an intelligent guy like you can find better ways to be emphatic.

    • Thanks but I don’t like it when people tell me what I should or should not write. Sorry you don’t like it. But it’s my blog. It’s how I talk. There’s nothing wrong with the word. It’s just a word. That’s my view. Not yours.

  • nice reading… thanks to share your thoughts

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  • Vincent Melsom

    I for one am quite happy to see this ‘shift’ from creator to audience.

    The ease with which average Joe can create and distribute content has not only created a world cluttered with entertainment garbage, but devalued language, art & music.

    With the control to create back in the hands of the trained, the talented and the expert, we may see some integrity return to the content we so happily consume.

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  • I’m totally on board. What is specifically problematic to me is the great imbalance between content creation and consumption. Apple continues to push us to consumers and a restricted, contained web. And many people take the bait.

    I love their products, but I’m not on board with their mission. But who knows, maybe the constraints could provide benefits. Their is a lot of garbage on the web. Maybe it will clean some stuff up.

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  • Despite the App craziness I strongly believe in the ‘Browser’ as the killer feature for the future of mobile devices and in special the iPad. I made an Interface Design Concept for Google Chrome on an iPad and wrote down my thoughts on alternative Webbrower for iPad OS.

    Would love to hear your feedback!

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  • I really like your point about the iPad not allowing anything to be created. That is a huge negative for me. If it’s just a toy, it’s a time-waster.
    Thanks for the insights.

  • iPad will not be in danger of anything in the foreseen future.. Call it Kindle, Android, or Indian or Chinese tablets, iPad will still be on the top of the consumer’s preferences

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  •  Perhaps this is one of the most interesting blogs that I have ever seen. Interesting article, Funny comment. Keep it up!

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