iPad. Biggest. Flop. Ever.

If you haven’t heard about the iPad yet, you live under a rock on Venus. Even my mother heard about it. That being said, I think this product is one of the biggest flops in recent history. Sure, there have been massive flops in the past, but I can’t think of anything this made of fail in the last year or two.

If you read the news or twitter, you’ll see a number of articles for the iPad and (I feel) even more against the iPad. My vote is, of course, against. Gizmodo’s “8 Things That Suck About the iPad” has the right idea but sort of whines, picking on it just to pick on it. Mashable has a very well written article “The Anti-Hype: Why Apple’s iPad Disappoints” which illustrates a few key points on why the iPad isn’t “magical”.

When I look at a device like the iPad, I try to ask myself how I would use it. The iPad is supposed to be, if nothing else, 2 things: a Kindle killer and a netbook replacement. I’ll get to the ebook thing later, first lets talk about netbook replacement. My netbook sits idle 95% of the time, because I have real computers to use. Mainly, I use my netbook for traveling, when I don’t want to haul a 17″ laptop with me. The iPad could travel, it would entertain me (but so can the netbook/iPhone). When I get to my destination I could use it to check my email, but my iPhone already does that. Once I’ve been around for a few days, I may want to offload my digital pictures and take a look at them on a bigger screen… and this is where the iPad comes to a screaming halt, cause you can’t. The iPad is not a tablet computer, it is a tablet iPod. As a “slave device” it cannot be connected to your digital camera and offload pictures. You can’t use it to touch up the pictures a little bit, and then post them to your blog, or send them to flickr. An iPod is a device that entertains you, it doesn’t get work done. It might entertain you with music or a video distraction while you work, but it certainly is not a device for getting work done. The iPad, being a 9.7″ iPod… doesn’t get work done either. Oh, sure Apple is going to put out their iWork suite (which will cost you $10 an app) in case you want to type something up but if I wanted to spend any serious amount of time typing, I’m going to use a REAL keyboard, not a virtual one.

There are accessories you say, like a keyboard dock, which gives the iPad a proper and tactile keyboard. Well, that is just shiny, except for the fact that now you have to carry 2 SEPARATE baubles to get anything done. My netbook closes up and is easily carried (note: with keyboard) with as little as two fingers. Anything that you need to add to the iPad to make it useful to you, is one step farther away from a usefully portable tablet.

So let’s step back to an accessory-less use; one of the major uses the iPad seems to have: ebook reader. If you ask Stacey Higginbotham of Gigaom about it, she’ll tell you “Will the iPad Kill the Kindle? In a Word, Yes“. Then again our Miss Higginbotham is obviously high on some mighty good stuff, probably that Hawaiian stuff (from what I’m told that is some of the best). Don’t get me wrong, the shots of the iPad showing The New York Times looks very impressive, but the iPad has a huge and fatal flaw. That screen that makes it look so pretty, is an active display. By that I mean it uses a backlight, like your laptop. For most people, computers screens are tiring on the eyes to look at for a long period of time. You get tired of reading the screen, but most people still go home and read the newspaper or a book. Why? Because books aren’t backlit, something Amazon understood with the Kindle. The eInk screen on basically every ebook reader worth it is damn isn’t there because they are cheap, they are there because they replicate the look of reading real paper something that appeals to most everyone. Additionally, the iPad’s active screen burns battery. Sure it has a fantastically long life (for a “computer”) at 10 hours, but a Kindle’s battery is rated in weeks in some cases. Even someone like my mother who reads heavily, all day, only has to charge her old Kindle one (with an elder and dieing battery) once every few days. So where does that leave the iPad? With a screen that people will not want to use for long periods of reading and a battery that will die.

Now because I love kicking a device while he’s down, lets take a look at the price of the iPad. $500 for the lowest model (Wifi only, 16GB Flash). Not bad; I was impressed to see that Apple is capable of making anything that cheap. But… I can, and have, bought a Netbook with more flashdrive space, faster CPU, and a whole lot more functionality (read: it is a real damn computer), for $350. Heck, you could get cheaper too. Now since the iPad is supposed to to a “Kindle Killer” (hilarious), let’s compare prices. Kindle 2 – $260 ($489 if you go to the DX). iPad – $630. Why that much more? Apples to Apples, the iPad would have to have 3G, just like the Kindle. Oh, and the iPad will also cost you $15 a month where as the Kindle costing you nothing a month. In fact, I can go buy a Netbook and a Kindle 2 for less than it costs to buy an iPad with 3g.

In the end, the questions I ask are: What killer feature does the iPad have? What problem is it solving? I can’t answer either question, and that really is what spells the end of it in my book. It doesn’t have any features that aren’t available in either your computer or your iPod. It solves no problem other than to “bridge the gap” between computer and iPod, but if you have both, you don’t need the bridge. In fact that bridge is mostly useless – the river ain’t exactly the Mississippi. Will some people still buy the iPad? Sure. Will I? Definitely not. Will anyone I know buy one? Can’t find a single person so far that wants one. I’m sorry Apple, but you should have let the “Apple Tablet” stay dead with the Newton MessagePad.

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29 Responses

  1. Harp says:

    The best selling tech gadget in history is still the “Laptop”
    I’ll admit Ipad did a lot better than I expected, but it is far from being the best selling. Too early to tell if it’s a flop but I agree with Jon, that this will be a flop in the long run. Laptops are much better to use than these akward devices.

    • Jon says:

      It’s a fun debate. iPads have, I’ll admit, sold very well and gone over very well with those who are VERY NON-technical. IE, the kind of people that don’t even own computers, actually do decently with iPads (I’ve seen it on several occasions, odd if you ask me).

      I still wuvvle my keyboard.

  2. Travis says:

    hahaha Jon predicted the best selling tech gadget in history was going to be a complete flop. Wow do you look stupid…

    I think this blog will go down in infamy as one of the worst predictions ever.

  3. janey says:

    I think it’s time to eat some crow. :)


    “With an estimated 8.5 million units sold to date, Apple’s iPad is now the best-selling tech gadget in history, according to a financial analyst who tracks sales of the device. ”

    Flop indeed… or, do what a responsible blogger should do and write a new article admitting that you were in fact wrong. :)

    • Jon says:

      Not really. I’m not claiming to be a news site. I’m not claiming to be an expert. I’m just stating my opinion.

      • Winnie Bumfarther says:

        Can’t admit you were wrong, can ya’ … JON

        You are like the Iraqi information Minister!

      • janey says:

        No, it really is. Seriously.

        7.33 million iPads in the last *quarter* Millions of people have decided that they really don’t give a crap about Flash on the web. Developers and users alike.

        We’re just pointing out that while you’re entitled to your opinion, it’s so damn wrong that it’s not even funny.

        • janey says:

          Just because I’m a snarky little thing.. today’s results (a year later.. yes, I also have no life!) said..

          “Apple sold 15.43 million iPads during the quarter”

          Just saying’ … :-)

  4. iLoveMyKindle says:

    Jon. Worst. Prediction. Ever.

    3 million units sold. HTML5 taking off (YouTube, ESPN, NY Times, scores more). Impossible to keep in stock. Yep, *nobody* is going to want this turd. But at least you joined the cacophony of morons who stomped this product, with no hands-on experience before it ever came out. So good on ya, sheep.

    –Sent from my iPad

  5. Johnny says:

    Great Information, thanks for your fine Article. Really great topic to write about on my Blog. I might make a bookmark from another Blog.

  6. Jon says:

    The rumors of Android tablets have looked promising. I’m still torn about the idea of a “client” tablet, personally I’d prefer a full computer tablet… but at least android would let us do what we wanted with it.

    Technically the Kindle is already on it’s second generation. Kindle, Kindle 2 and Kindle DX (which was a big Kindle 2). I hear the new ones are going to be a “2.5” kinda thing. Smaller, maybe with wifi.

  7. Captainswing says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Snowulf. No USB port… No Adobe Flash support (still!)… The fact that they are shifting squillions of them just means that the iMoron Fan Boi Lemmings are out in force… and getting royally fleeced by Lord Jobs and his gargoyles. Like you, I have an iPhone and love it. But this offers NOTHING more (and you can’t even make a phone call on it – LOL!) I am looking forward to buying a Kindle when the second generation comes out late July… and to seeing some upstart little company, that none of us have ever heard of, produce a “pad” that really IS revolutionary and wipes the floor with both Microsaurus AND Crapple…

  8. Jon Norwood says:

    Ok – I concede a year or two might be aggressive but given Flash’s security and stability problems and the fact that HTML5 is pretty awesome (plus it has some heaving backing from a certain company with a misspelled name) I think it will be dying none the less.

    In any event – there is room in the world for everyone’s preference – iPhones/Droids and iPads/(whatever comes next). Truth is – it is a better world if there ARE multiple options.

    This is why people try to get Micro-sloth to break up.

  9. Jon says:

    Can’t disagree with you on the HTML5, but I doubt “a year or two” is the time line for the death of flash. Lets be honest, we’re still trying to finish shoveling the dirt on IE6’s grave and that sucker was out of date last decade…

  10. Jon Norwood says:

    Is it that it is a better Kindle or that it has basically rendered the Kindle useless. My point was – Amazon could have made the Kindle better but they didn’t.

    I know everybody hates Apple (and confusing embrace Microsoft) but the reality is they push other companies to innovate. They sold 300K of these things which has by default created a new niche market. There will be competing products that will probably be just as good – they will all call themselves the “iPad killer”. If Apple didn’t take the chance on creating a market – those devices would not exist. This is called innovation.

    Without Apple we would still be using 5.25″ Floppies and buying CDs.

    Side note : Flash will be dead in a year or two – HTML5 is better anyway.

  11. Nils says:

    I agree 100% with Jon! I see no use for a totally closed, vendor-constrained, purely consumption-oriented device like the iPad. I’m perfectly happy with my Asus 15″ laptop that I can actually run whatever I want to on. When I have to travel, the machine travels with me just fine, so when I’m at a hotel, I have a “real” computer with me to use for work and communication purposes. I can also use it for entertainment purposes, like listening to music or setting it on the desk in my hotel room while sitting on the sofa and watching a movie on it (try that with an iPad – you’d probably have to hold it in your hand through the entire movie, or nail it to the wall in of your hotel room…). I don’t feel a need for anything “more mobile” than that, and even if I did and I felt the need for a device I can pull out of my pockets every few minutes while on the go, a phone would probably be the device of my choice (of course, I do own a cell phone, but not a “smart phone”: Making and receiving calls is all it takes for me to be a happy citizen while on the go).

    If you ask me, the “bridge” the iPad is supposed to fill only exists in Mr Jobs’ head. And it might actually only be the bridge between your and his wallet…

  12. Tyler says:

    And, once again, you prove the point of all the critics that this iPad is, at best, a better Kindle. iPad = popcorn fart.

  13. Jon Norwood says:

    I love reading these posts posthumously – Apple has a grand slam home run with this one.

    Even the conservative estimates have it at 2.5 million units the first year.

    Sorry, Amazon, you had your chance.

  14. John says:

    My killer app already exists, it’s called: Flash

    Alas, the iPad doesn’t support it :(

  15. Jon says:

    You are quite correct. I am pessimistic and lets be honest, biased against Apple.

    I’m not conceited enough to believe there will never be a killer app for this type of device but it is generally Apple that released something of major draw with these products. Once the tablets get out and some time goes by, there will be some really sweet apps for it. Maybe my consternation with the product is how Apple tries to advertise it. I mean, who can take it serious with “The best web browsing experience” being one of their main tag lines?

  16. Sean says:

    Jon, you’re obviously a bright guy who’s seen a lot of technology products fail. But you also seem like a ‘glass half-empty kind of guy’.

    You may not see a ‘killer app’ for this product for you now, but to assume there won’t be one for you in the future seems very opinionated. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you had 24 hours to conceive of a really useful application for the iPad that would make your customer experience very satisfying, you’d probably come up with two.

    I never would have imagined 98% of the existing apps in the AppStore. Now developers have been given faster hardware, a bigger screen, higher resolution, more memory… with all the benefits of an existing infrastructure to deliver their applications to consumers.

    I know their are enough people with imagination, innovation, and motive ($$) to make this tablet very useful for me.

  17. Jon says:

    Did I predict the iPhone would be a flop? ( http://www.google.com/search?&q=iphone%20flop%20site%3ASnowulf.com&sourceid=mozilla-search )Nope… can’t say that I did. Then again they kinda sprung that one on us. And yes, I do have an iPhone. Very love/hate relationship with it. You’re right, the iPad isn’t for me, I want an actually computer that can do more than just be a jumbo iPod ( http://www.leasticoulddo.com/comic/20100317 ). Well, when I buy a computer I expect it to be a computer. The iPad is flatly not a computer.

    I’m in the rat category? That doesn’t even make sense. And if the iPad is supposed to be such a gateway drug to the world without input devices, how come it is such a big deal that the iPad keyboard will be late. Why are analysts literally screaming for joy when the keyboard was announced. Gateway to the world without mice or keyboard my football.

    I’ve got no issue with a full computer (important note: fully functional computer, not an oversized iPod) that has motion and touch control interface. Hell, I think that is a purdy cool idea. After all, look at the game consoles. Everyone is putting out their own “motion” controller because that is kinda the next big thing.

    For the idea of having a collapsible device that can expand to a 15+” laptop, very cool – but that isn’t what the iPad is. Let’s be realistic. eInk is going to be that world, and I look forward to that. I look forward to these concepts coming to fruition, I don’t enjoy having to lug around a work issued 17″ monster as much as the next guy.

    One of my major points in my post, which you seemed to miss, is the fact that the iPad is too limited. If Apple goes and makes the iPad have the ability run a more full copy of OSX and at least be able to multittask – then the story is going to change a lot. They advertised the iPad as this wonderful device that can do cool things like: Watch video, and for that it is a good mobile video player. Read a book, for that it is a shitty shitty device as most (not all, but most) dislike reading on an active display (read as: Kindle/Nook/Etc much better for this). And the “Best web browsing experience”, ya know… except for those who want flash, java applets, silverlight or the ability to quickly type page long scathing comments on their most favoritest blog author’s site.

    But hey, if all you’re looking for is another shiny bauble which replicates the features of your laptop and your iPhone without actually giving you something new and useful… go right ahead.

  18. Randy says:

    You’re just a f&&^^ idiot, Jon. You probably also predicted that the iPhone would be a flop as well, yet now your sorry ass owns one. The iPad is probably not for you…and…guess what…the world will keep right on spinning. Apple will still be a $15 billion company and your broke ass will still be writing sorry blogs that no one, except myself today, ever reads!

    Behold, you ignoramus, the iPad is the gateway to the future of Apple computing. It is a transitional device designed to get Apple consumers primed to interface with the digital word, without mice, rats or keyboards (you’re in the rat category).

    Future progressions of this type of device will run OSX or even OSXI by then. The will be full scale computers, controlled by motion and touch, serving as truly mobile devices for conducting business and enjoying various forms of digital entertainment.

    The next generation of these devices will explore electronic/collapsable paper formats. Imagine pulling your electronic device out of your pocket and then folding it out, until the screen is the size of a 15″ laptop.

    Amazing, I know, but the future is only for those who can see it. Your future is being stuck on the subway with a POS netbook. Good luck buddy.

    • Anony says:

      Jon never said the devices were lacking in cutting edge technology. The case with Apple is restrictive functionality, both in terms of software and hardware.

      Any advanced technical user will agree that Apple’s devices are no more than “sheep screens”. The average user doesn’t require flexibilty in functionality, which is why Apple has seen success.

      This simple equation: Domination of informative media + attractive products = many sales. So the sheep continue buying Apple devices… for how long is the big question.

      History tells us that sooner or later user expectations come to change. Speaking of the future is pointless unless you understand relevant history.

      If Apple is to see a competitive future, they will begin easing device restrictions to provide more value to their customers, who wisen by the day.

      How wrong you will be, Randy… or should I say “sheep”.

  1. 2010-09-17

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