iPad About

Well bless my soul and whiskers. This is the first time I’ve joined the congregation at the Church of Apple for a new product launch. I’ve watched all the past ones, downloaded the Quicktime movies and marvelled as Apple’s leader has stood before an ovating faithful and announced the switch to Intel, the birth of iPod, the miniMac, the iTunes Store, OS X, iPhoto, the swan’s neck iMac, the Shuffle, Apple retail stores, the iPhone, the titanium powerbook, Garageband, the App Store and so much more. But today I finally made it. I came to San Francisco for the launch of the iPad. Oh, happy man.

Today had special resonance. In front of his family, friends and close colleagues stood the man who founded Apple, was fired from Apple and came back to lead Apple to a greatness, reach and influence that no one on earth imagined. But a year ago, it is now clear, there was a very strong possibility that Steve Jobs would not live to see 2010 and the birth of his newest baby.

With revenues of 15.6 billion Apple is now the largest mobile device company in the world, Jobs told the subdued but excited six hundred packed into the Yerba Buena Cultural Center for the Arts Theatre this morning. A few more triumphant housekeeping notes followed and then we were into the meat of it. Well, the whole event is available to be watched online, you don’t need me to describe it. He picked up an iPad and walked us through. Afterwards I was allowed to play with one myself.

Journos getting all excited in the test-one-out room.

I know there will be many who have already taken one look and pronounced it to be nothing but a large iPhone and something of a disappointment. I have heard these voices before. In June 2007 when the iPhone was launched I collected a long list of “not impressed”, “meh”, “big deal”, “style over substance”, “it’s all hype”, “my HTC TyTN can do more”, “what a disappointment”, “majorly underwhelmed” and similar reactions. They can hug to themselves the excuse that the first release of iPhone was 2G, closed to developers and without GPS, cut and paste and many other features that have since been incorporated. Neither they, nor I, nor anyone, predicted the “game-changing” effect the phone would so rapidly have as it evolved into a 3G, third-party app rich, compass and GPS enabled market leader. Even if it had proved a commercial and business disaster instead of an astounding success, iPhone would remain the most significant release of its generation because of its effect on the smartphone habitat. Does anybody seriously believe that Android, Nokia, Samsung, Palm, BlackBerry and a dozen others would since have produced the product line they have without the 100,000 volt taser shot up the jacksie that the iPhone delivered to the entire market?

Nonetheless, even if they couldn’t see that THREE BILLION apps would be downloaded in 2 years (that’s half a million app downloads a day, give or take ) could they not see that this device was gorgeous, beautifully made, very powerful and capable of development into something extraordinary? I see those qualities in the iPad. Like the first iPhone, iPad 1.0 is a John the Baptist preparing the way of what is to come, but also like iPhone 1.0 (and Jokanaan himself too come to that) iPad 1.0 is still fantastic enough in its own right to be classed as a stunningly exciting object, one that you will want NOW and one that will not be matched this year by any company. In the future, when it has two cameras for fully featured video conferencing, GPS and who knows what else built in (1080 HD TV reception and recording and nano projection, for example) and when the iBook store has recorded its 100 millionth download and the thousands of accessories and peripherals that have invented uses for iPad that we simply can’t now imagine – when that has happened it will all have seemed so natural and inevitable that today’s nay-sayers and sceptics will have forgotten that they ever doubted its potential.

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234 comments on “iPad About”

  1. vandellyn says:

    A little clarity here. As a new reader of your blog – hi there- I thought that you had got it dead right about the ipad, and no matter how many naysayers and accusations of favoritism, your description of the ipad’s transparancy and liquidity is what I saw in the announcement, but could not yet touchyfeel. The ipad changes our interaction with the digital world in the same way the iphone changed our lives with cell phones, and it is a total game changer. My family are not computer geeks, but my son wants one so he doesn’t need to carry around a hundredweight of school books, and my wife, a partial invalid, wants one because she wants to surf in bed. That’s enough for me to buy one each. I want one to be my in-car map thingy, and to control my home theater, and to read on the john. So no flash, no multitasking – so what? It’s not a computer, it’s a GETTER. It gets stuff for you. In five years we’ll all have one.


  2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    Any time Apple does something interesting, one thing I do miss is reading Douglas Adams’ take on it. I’m glad to see that another curious, erudite Brit taking up the task.

    That said, I’m glad I waited for the iPhone 3G for the reasons you mention, and will wait for generation 2 or 3 of this new product before considering buying. I kinda wish Apple had twisted ATT’s biscuits a bit more, and gotten the same sort of ‘lifetime’ baseline data coverage that Kindlers get.

    ps: if Apple decides to kill the Stanza app because they want to open their own bookstore, that would be unforgivable. Stanza’s a wonderful reader, and its free download library is fantastic.

    pps: I still like to think DNA is only deceased for tax reasons, like Hotblack Desiato.

    ppps: I predict that the inevitable parts breakdown will reveal a build-of-materials bill in the $280-330 range for the $499 model.

  3. creg101 says:

    I too was quite let down by the iPad, firstly the name…it’s all been said before so enough on that, secondly i focused on what a lot of others are doing – what the iPad lacks.
    then i slept on it and when i woke i thought more about it. nothing is ever perfect the first time round, not just in technology but generally, very rarely do you hear of someone going on a first date or talking to someone they admire with a general message of glee and 100% confidence that the right things were said and no cringe-worthy happenings went on. it happens.
    with the iPad i think Apple have started something that will grow bigger and better, but it has to start somewhere. the place it’s starting at may not be to everyones tastes but it’s still a pretty epic machine, there’s nothing like it in the world and i think it does exactly what it was intended to do. it makes people go ‘ooooh’ and makes other computing companies need an iPad for their pants, while successfully carving out it’s own niche market and it looks like it’s good at pretty much everything it was intended for.
    so there’s no multi-tasking, no usb ports, no flash – they will come in time, even without those it’s still an amazing piece of kit and a pretty big leap forward in terms of what technology can do. hopefully the other companies will step up to the mark and we’ll see some competition on the go!

  4. colsha57 says:

    Now THE BIG QUESTION IS are we moving to greener territory as in environment …or envy?
    Well personally I don’t have an Iphone and I’d love a Mac Air but will I eventually get an Ipad?
    As you’ve been rubbing shoulders with our techie or should that be tacky cousins in Appleland would this be an/the incentive you need to help you finish your book???????

  5. dickkennedy says:

    Most of the negative blog posts and tweets completely miss the point. They’re all focused on the gizmo. But what was significant yesterday was what Apple is going to do to the publishing industry. This is one interesting take:

    The iPod was a so-so MP3 player with lock-in. It still changed the world of music forever.

  6. benjohncock says:

    Stephen, I was reminded of something Douglas Adams said in 2002, which I think is very relevant with regard to the iPad:

    “The future of computer power is pure simplicity.”


  7. macsurferuk says:

    err c’mon jabbablinks from over the pond, are you serious?

    “ita been nice to also have a non biased opinion right after yours mr. fry…..in america we call that fair and balanced…;-) ”

    This is Mr Fry’s own site not the BBC or NYT, he can say what he likes :)

  8. iandanforth says:

    Mr. Fry,

    Very enjoyable post. Two small items.

    1. You note a lack of GPS in the iPad without mentioning that the 3G version will come with GPS. (http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/)
    2. I hope you submitted that transcript to google! The larger their corpus of data the better it will get.

    Always enjoy your writings,


  9. madmaxmedia says:

    “At events like this, and in their stores, they emphasise the hands-on experience so that people are dazzled by the “surface gloss” and overlook the underlying limitations.”

    You could say that, the flip side is that they actually care more about the actual user experience, rather than technical specifications. How people will actually use it, which is what separated even the original iPhone from everything else.

    I don’t understand all the accusations of ‘backhanding’ here- the guy obviously likes the device, is that so suspicious? You can post here that you hate the iPad, and I don’t think Stephen is going to accuse you of being a Microsoft Slate shill.

    Finally, multitasking is no doubt coming, probably in just a few months with OS 4. OTOH, if multitasking is such a big deal for you, then you’re not really in the main target market for the iPad. The iPad is about usability and interface, 2 aspects which will be largely transparent to those who are already familiar with existing computing devices. But over time, the iPad will be improved to encompass more users, just like the iPhone.

    This is the future of computing, I don’t mean in a ‘wow the new Intel CPU has 20 cores!’ sorta way. Actually, the original iPhone represented the future of computing, this is just the next step in that progression. As Stephen said, without the iPhone there would have been no Android, WebOS, etc. Read Stephen’s Chief Reason #1 again- that basically covers it in a nutshell.

    Many are fixated on the fact that this is a giant iPod Touch (which it is), but that doesn’t matter- it’s what made SENSE for Apple to do, not make a Mac OS X tablet.

    Command Prompt -> GUI -> TUI (touch user interface)

    While Microsoft was devoting much of its effort on Windows 7 (and should be commended for it), Apple just completely changed the future of computing. Do you think people will be using clamshell notebooks in 10 years? Think again.

  10. sergentcolon says:

    It does look to be an interesting new device, which may or may not start a revolution. But watching the video I couldn’t helped to be slightly disturbed by the ‘excitement’ generated in the speakers on stage by this device. Some of them almost had bugles in their trousers they were ‘so excited by this product’, I mean during the development they must have been popping to the toilet for an excitement release session every 15 minutes or so!
    I don’t know if it’s me or does anyone else feel just a little uneasy in the company of people who get so excited by a new product or business opportunity, I mean what would these people do if they encountered something genuinely exciting like bungee jumping, driving a powerful motor cycle or shagging somone elses wife. I think their heads would explode.
    Not that I’m a luddite, being known as ‘inspector gadget’ in a previous job for my ‘techie’ leanings, these days I find ‘interested’ is a more realistic description of my feelings towards new technology unless of course someone actually creates a real version of the ‘jaunt belt’ from the 70’s childrens sci fi program ‘The tomorrow people’, Now that would actually give me wood.

  11. Callum says:

    I’m so happy it’s finally here, and I’m glad you were there to give us an inside opinion of it! Thanks. I can’t wait for it to come to the UK so I can run to the nearest Apple Store and spend hours playing with it myself! I completely agree with what you said about people not liking Apple and it has nothing to do with you being an avid supporter of them. I don’t quite understand why people don’t like Apple, and I don’t think I ever will. I just wish they’re products didn’t cost so much! Which is another great bonus with the iPad (I felt.) Thanks for the update!

  12. jtsnyc47 says:

    “The product looks like a pig in a poke to me, but I haven’t been treated to a hands-on demonstration as you have.”

    Kind of funny that you wrote it, given that’s the central point of the piece. Guess…it’s…good you’re agreeing? Or something.

    “I make it my mission in life to say what I think and as we aren’t talking about you but what you have said on your blog.”

    Actually, your insinuations kind of strike a little deeper than his words. When you use terms like “shuttled in there by smooth diplomats from brand central”, you’re going after the character of the writer, implying that something untoward was involved in his review.

    Please, sir: back under your bridge. I personally the author does not give any more of your mean-spiritedness the dignity of a response – or better yet deletes your comments entirely.

  13. holycow says:

    I think we need to give it time to see what applications and media are made available to the device. Clearly its not for everyone, for example the person who wanted to use it for reading music or the individual who wanted to open files (text or otherwise) or those who need Flash.

    For me the lack of multitasking (which is only limited by the SDK agreement) and the lack of a camera for video conferencing is puzzling. It has a microphone and Apple has modified its SDK to now permit VOIP over 3G, so why not skype or ichat video conferencing.

    But I say lets give it time, to see what the developers, apple and media or content providers come up with. Its simply too early to tell.

  14. Quix says:

    Hmm, wasn’t “Horp” Steve Ballmer’s nickname back in grade school?

    Curiouser and curiouser.

    Add Mr. Horp to the “We really never doubted it would be a hit, despite what we said” list to harass 3 years from now. What’s the fun of naysayers if you can’t rub their faces in it later?

  15. Skipperdee says:

    Stephen, I completely agree with your summation, positives and negatives. I commented to some friends this morning that I wanted the 3rd gen iPad, as it will surely have addressed many of the shortcomings of the 1st gen, plus no doubt have added unimagined coolnesses.

    My life was made MUCH better and easier with the inclusion of the iPhone (especially as I was able to delay my purchase until the 3G made it’s debut). It genuinely acts as an extension of my desktop iMac for contacts, email, and calendars (which I need for my freelance work situation), plus adds much entertainment and information to my day. With iPhone and iMac, I have not yet seen any need for a laptop, and I still don’t. For my needs, it’s way too much computer.
    But the iPad is ABSOLUTELY the way of the future for many potential laptop users who, like me, just can’t justify the expense and power of a whole OTHER computer, but who would LOVE to have a really GOOD internet tool, reasonably sized video, and a great book reader on hand all the time.

    I have no doubt that Apple will improve the memory size (64 gigs? Really? Come on now.) and add myriad unimaginable bitchin’ features as the generations roll by, and I look forward to my (perhaps 1-2 years hence) purchase!

  16. gavmiller says:


    I’d get ‘Huffy’ if I was accused by a troll of taking backhanders as well. The point is your post wasn’t about ‘disagreeing’ with what was posted by SF, more suggesting a motive beyond being impressed by a product.

    Oh, and those Kindles. Eink is a wonderful technology, amazing in bright daylight and does what it says on the tin. I’m certainly not taking my laptop on the tube to read ebooks!

    Who is it you know who have had a ‘hands on’ demonstration of the iPad? Taking a lead from your style of commenting, can I suggest you are talking out your backside.

    That is all.

  17. panther.modern says:

    I suppose I can see Horp’s point of view, but honestly, I didn’t read that in the post. It’s a glowing endorsement from an admitted Apple aficionado, so I don’t think it really breaks any molds there, but I am simply amazed at the incredible nerd rage that is being generated on the internet about this device.
    One, I can’t believe that they don’t realize that all this buzz (negative though it may be) is still serving to whip the media into a slathering frenzy, which means more publicity. Two, I still don’t understand how people can be surprised that they approached the tablet in this fashion. The iPhone is a mobile device that a massive install base is now completely comfortable and familiar with. Why do people avoid buying a Mac? Fear they won’t know how to use it. We all know how to use Snow Leopard, but our mothers don’t. Our grandparents don’t. What do they know how to use? An iPhone.
    This device simply isn’t for us, fellow macheads and geeks. There will be those among us who like it for what it is and want one for sheer geek lust (I’m one of those), but we’re not the target market. Just as the iPhone was not targeted to those of us singing the praises of HTC and the coming of open-source phones. Most people could care less about googlyflops. They just want something that works. Why doesn’t it multitask? Because if it did, it wouldn’t be fast at any moment in what you are doing at that moment (just like any computer). I simply can’t believe that Apple looked at the market and then decided to go in a completely different direction for no reason. I think Apple, as they are wont to do, are creating a new market and a new device. I see my friends arguing and complaning about it, but then I talk to all of their wives and they want one with some kind of passionate fury that I can’t fully contemplate. My wife is in that crowd. You could see that as a liabilty or some kind of betrayal, but I imagine that Apple is simply experimenting with accessing a new market of iPhone users who want a computing device they will feel comfortable with. And that market is much, much larger than the people who wanted a Macbook with multitouch. I’m with Stephen on this one. Reserve judgment until you use one. If still unsatisfied, buy an available netbook with Windows or Linux and multitask on that tiny screen until your heart is truly content.

  18. Paul of the woods says:

    I love it, this is the dogs bollox, when people find out what this baby can do they will all want one. I can tune my guitar, bango, Mandalin can you believe it built in tuners for different Instruments and many different kinds of tunings apart from concerto. But much more than that it makes the mind boggle.

  19. samsonite says:

    I can imagine the slick Apple interface and it must be really nice to use. My main concern with the iPad is the screen resolution and the fact that it’s not widescreen. The Apple website talks about the iPad as be ideal for watching HD movies on. The screen is not even HD resolution so you can’t (and is factually incorrect), and not being widescreen makes the resolution even worse with the borders…

  20. mainmac says:

    I’m so glad you got to make the Apple Pilgrimage. I was following the Gizmodo coverage of the event, when in a photo they snapped of Jonathan Ive holding a brandy, I was certain I saw you alongside looking out at the line. I’m not such a fan of Gizmodo, but it’s a beautiful photo that captures the feeling of being there, I think.


  21. FoxtrotRU says:

    I love it. It’s only 59 days left.
    I was glad to see you in Apple’s video right after sushi-bar :)http://img.skitch.com/20100128-jth582tcixuhx3cthtk3ur36q6.jpg

    Best regards from Moscow

  22. hannah_2008 says:

    Wonderful to read your acccount of the Ipad, I would love to get one, and I completely agree with what you say about how people knock these things and then they sell millions. It’s fantastic technology at the end of the day, and you are completely allowed to gush praise on it. Keep up the good work! x

  23. Lisa Spangenberg says:

    For me, I’d rather have the iPad than a Television. I don’t own a TV now, and haven’t for three years. I don’t miss it. I know a lot of people like eInk and I’m very glad that their eInk readers work for them.

    I honestly prefer to read ebooks on my iPhone, rather than my Palm TX or my Mac laptop, though I read them there as well. In part, I want to be able to adjust the text (iBooks allows you to set font, font size, and justification) but I like having a multipurpose device that does much more than let me read books.

    It’s very early days–I think we’ll see a lot of support for what marketing dweebs call “rich media” on the iPhone. I am excited about the possibilities of books with extras. Not just a digital voice reading a book, but an actor, and the ability to find passages, take notes, export them with citations and quotations, and do things like link to maps so you can see, exactly where Gondor is in Middle Earth, and hear what Elvish sounds like. I want to create the annotated Canterbury Tales, read in Middle English with glosses, maps, images and essays.

  24. knitkat says:

    I think you are an incredibly smart person and of all the so called experts and celebs that voice their opinions on these things- yours is the one I trust . I think the iPad has the potential to be wonderful. I imagine how useful this could be for students- connecting text books , school apps and programs like iwork . I think that alone makes this product worth every penny and lighter than most paper/real world text books.

    It doesn’t do everything – but it is not supposed to do EVERYTHING. I have my money ready and will be buying an iPad as soon as I possibly can.

    This is just the beginning.

  25. Rienzi says:

    Dear Mr. Fry. As always, a great fan of yours; also a fan of Apple, typing this with iPod Touch while listening to Spotify via my iPhone 3G S (no multitasking but multidevicing here) and having pre-ordered two (guess why) iPads already; but also a great fan of Nokia’s, living almost next door to their HQ here in Espoo, Finland (we have -17 centigrade, lots of snow and very dark right now). So I wish to make a couple of points:
    – 16 hours after Mr Jobb’s show, Nokia had it’s scheduled financial info, turnover (net sales) for 2009 was 16 billion US dollars, so Jobbs kind of made a blunder to assume comparing size without the full information available.
    – When announcing iPhone v 1, Jobbs openly compared it with the then Nokia flagship, which had far more features than even iPhone 3 G S, saying only that iPhone would be FASTER in WLAN. Nothing else, but he singled out the comparison
    – Nokia fangirl commenting earlier forgot Nokia indeed had a touchscreen mobile phone as early as in 2004, but the market reception was not good

    Still, Apple is great, but I try to keep the balance, I also own and use Nokia N900, N97, 5800 XM, and work with E72.

    PS God’s speed to the book in progress, Mr Fry !

  26. Rienzi says:

    Edit: The Nokia flagship in 2007 to which Jobbs was comparing iPhone was, of course, N95.

  27. Finchany says:

    My Lord Stephen,

    You are right. People have already written this product off as pointless and, like you, I believe that people should hold off their judgement until they have actually touched the iPad. Like it’s electronic brothers and sisters it will change the industry much like the iPhone, iPod and iMac have done. I imagine that as we type and read our comments the other big technology companies are looking at their tablet/slate computer plans and pondering as to whether or not they should throw out their plans and start again now that they have a proper idea as to what it is that they are up against.

    Much love Stephen and good luck with your book. I will buy it even if it is a book of blank paper x

  28. 6891986 says:

    I do not believe for one second that you received any backhanders for this article (smelly or otherwise). Generally, I am not a great admirer of apple machines, preferring the guts and gravy of a windows or linux pc to the sleek underbelly of a mac but I wholeheartedly agree that critics of the ipad fail to see beyond the first generation.

    Apple are not technological innovators. They are design innovators. In technological terms there are clearly defined criteria of better or worse, faster or slower. Critical analysis of a traditional computer will always rely on these terms. In design terms, there really is no better or worse, just preferred.

    Critics may say there are better featured tablets but I am not in denial of the ipads relative simplicity, I am in awe of it. Apple, other criticisms aside, have always recognised what has been patently obvious since computers first grew monitors and keyboards. A computer IS a book. The screen is both a full and blank page. While embodying and devouring all other mediums it remains, first and foremost, a tactile experience.

    The Ipad, while not being technologically innovative, will with Apples design, software, infrastructure and market muscle no doubt become a stencil for other computer developers to scribble around. And for that reason alone, it is already a great achievement. (Although not more so than my beloved Nintendo Wii).

  29. jezebel says:

    I’ve used Google Voice for a few weeks now in the US, and it’s pretty good at recognising American speech, but not anything too wildly variant on that. I’m guessing Natasha had an English accent?

    (This makes sense when you look at how statistical voice recognition is actually done – the individual sounds in English speech are wildly different from American accents, as we all known, which really confuses machines. When a human listener is listening in “English accent mode” we interpret exactly the same set of sounds differently than when we listen in “American accent mode”. Sadly, this has tripped me up several times in the grand old ‘States, in short sentences that have been delightfully ambiguous.)

  30. Rienzi says:

    An angle upon which only a person with hands-on experience could comment: what about privacy – you know the unnerving feel one gets if someone is looking over one’s shoulder when reading or writing; s book has its covers to narrow the angle open to prying eyes, and smaller gadgets like iPhone are small enough to hold their secrets… But with iPad everybody and their ant can read the screen like a wide open centre of a newspaper.

  31. jonastreet says:

    Well , I’m happy for you . It must had been awfully nice , I
    suppose .

  32. samsonite says:

    I certainly don’t think the iPad is pointless, it should have many uses and will only improve. BUT, why is nobody commenting on the lack of HD & widescreen on the display. If they sorted that, then I would get one straight away, but as it stands I will have to hope they make the screen slightly higher spec :(

    I really nice thing to put on the market, but let’s not trick ourselves about it being perfect. Yet.

  33. DerekK19 says:

    I have to say that I have oscillated from fanboy to nay-sayer and back half a dozen times in the past day. My wife and I had looked forward to the Apple tablet for months and her immediate response yesterday was, “do we get one, or two?”. Since then I’ve seen the downsides: reported, though not confirmed, lack of Flash support; lack of camera; lack of anything other than support of Apple store apps. Some have said they would not buy one because they can’t run Photoshop / Office on it. These people have clearly missed the point. This is not a desktop replacement. It’s also not a phone (would you seriously hold an A4 sized machine to your ear to speak to someone!). Nor is it a camera (ditto). So what is it; a notebook, an e-reader, a music player? The more perceptive commentators don’t try to pigeon hole the iPad, because it is not a new instance of any existing device, it is a new device category. Go back 20 years and people said the same about filofaxes (remember them?) Why would I have one? I have a diary, an address book… Maybe the iPad is the modern equivalent of the filofax; a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, accept it won’t do everything, but don’t expect it to do everything.

    Most of me wants one. Not to replace my phone, my iPod, my laptop, or even my books, but to augment them. I would be able to blog and tweet from it, check my email, maybe store the odd book and use it as a travelling library, store photos to show others when I am travelling.

    As a final note, I am a dyed in the wool PC-aficionado, and have been for 20 years. I am seeing the light though.

  34. Endophage says:

    While I will agree the iPad is and exquisitely crafted device I am more than a little sceptical about its functionality. I’m coming from a position within the tech world and have a number of issues with it that will mean I will not be purchasing one (incidentally I’m not an Apple hater, on the contrary I’m writing this on my MacBook Pro).

    Firstly, it does not support multitasking, that is, you can only run one application at a time. While this may not be an issue for some people, I am constantly switching between browser and email (not to mention development software but there are other reasons I will come on to why I would avoid it for any serious typing). I would get very tired very quickly of having to wait for each application to start up whenever I needed to switch (admittedly it won’t be a full cold start of the app but it will still be slower than having it open already).

    Secondly, you can only install and run applications from the app store. I’ve owned an HP tablet in the past and the things I did the most on it were amateur graphic design for some websites I worked on and annotation of pdf files using the outstanding PDF Annotator software. Neither PDF Annotator nor the graphics programs I used will be available in the app store and it will almost certainly lack the processing power to handle the more serious graphic design the tablets are often used for. To quote an even more extreme view on this (http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2010012703135NWRLAP):

    “‘This is a huge step backward in the history of computing,’ said FSF’s Holmes Wilson, ‘If the first personal computers required permission from the manufacturer for each new program or new feature, the history of computing would be as dismally totalitarian as the milieu in Apple’s famous Super Bowl ad.'”

    Thirdly, and this is why I wouldn’t use it for any typing, development or otherwise. It has no physical keyboard. Over time typing with the onscreen keyboard will cause serious, possibly crippling damage to your hands. The following quote describes why (http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~cahn/rsi/meditations):

    “Type lightly!! If you can, type heavily enough so something shows up on screen, and lightly enough so the key doesn’t hit the base of the keyboard when you press it. Advised because. RSI is the cumulative effect of, among other things, repetitive tiny impacts of fingers on hard surfaces (key surface) slamming into other hard surfaces with no damping or shock absorption.”

    This is a problem that was described to me a long long time ago by my piano teacher in school. It has been known for a long time and there is plenty of medical evidence to show the damage caused.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. If you intend to get one, treat it like a big iPhone/Kindle, it’s a hi-tech toy, nothing more.

  35. samsonite says:

    DerekK19 – you make some great points! I knew there was some application that would be ideal on the iPad. Forget films, it clearly isn’t going to be that good for them in the early models. But blogging, tweeting, emails – these are things that many of us do all the time and having a giant iPhone would be the perfect solution for sitting on the sofa and readind/writing things to be honest.

    Needless to say, once you have one, I’m sure there will be plenty of things it will be good for.

  36. ceeb says:

    Hi Stephen

    I am an Apple convert. I used PCs years ago, before being hooked by an Apple rod. I love using my beautiful unit-construction MacBook Pro at work and my older-model MacBook Pro at home.

    Like many people, as you say, I drooled over the original iPhone when it was introduced. I was a Nokia man for ease of use, but handling an iPhone in the O2 shop or pinching one from a friend for a few minutes made me crave one … initially. Then I started weigh up what an iPhone could and could not do. I even bought an iPod Touch to tether to my Nokia for a better web experience. But I was disappointed with both this and the iPhone.

    Yes, the interface and the build quality were all I would expect from an Apple device. But the iPhone’s shortcomings as a smartphone, rather than a luxury toy, annoyed me. The fact that you MUST have an Apple-determined tariff swung it for me – that’s the element of Apple control that I dislike. As I’m an Orange customer of long standing, I didn’t want to lose the benefits I’d amassed as part of my current contract. So, I eventually got an HTC Hero, which I enjoy using very much.

    I now have similar misgvings over the iPad. Yes, it’s outwardly desirable – sleek, glossy, lovely to use (according to you). But I think to myself, “What would I do with it in my everyday life?” I wouldn’t want to carry it around to and from the office – I’ve got a perfectly good laptop to use at each location. I wouldn’t want to read books, newspapers or pamphlets on it – I prefer the feel, smell and pure pleasure of opening the real printed articles. The only thing I can think it might be useful for (for me) is surfing a few websites, but then I’d have to buy the more expensive 3G version to make it a truly unshackled experience.

    So, I’ll sit on my Cupertino-designed picket fence and watch and wait … and probably fall once again on the Apple side!

    Best wishes,

    BTW my Hero’s keyboard correctly predicts the iPad’s name, even showing a version with a capital ‘P’!

  37. dennisvjames says:

    Geeze. I’m not an apple fanboy (all my computers are from the other evil empire) but even I agree with pretty much everything in his article. Sure there’s a little swelling around the pipe (so to speak) as it’s enjoyable to attend one of those events. But I understand what he is saying completely. While I avoided the Apple III and Lisa, I got a Mac and Imagewriter in ’84. The iPhone (I have a Pre – multitasking) is just magic and it takes every bit of logic I have to remember it’s not multitasking and to not to buy one. Sure there’s limits to Apple products, but that will never dim the aura around Steve’s stuff. So just sit back, relax, enjoy the pretty pictures and say after me “Solylent Green is PEOPLE…it’s PEOPLE!!!”.

  38. mcseanerson says:

    When I first read there would be no multitasking I felt like it was the end of the beginning. Apple was going to change the tablet game and make it work. We would all have tablets of some sort in 2 years and wouldn’t be able to imagine our lives without them. And then they ruined it…

    or so I thought. After I gave the info a few more hours to soak in I realized that this is probably the best thing that could happen. Even with all it’s faults general pc users, mac users, and non pc users will all probably get one. Where does that leave the power user? Waiting on the competition and with the ipad’s desirability and obvious faults they will be coming and fast. Another reason for the restrictions to make sense for apple is this a brand new first generation device of what is an almost brand new category (or might as well be). I don’t mind my pc needing troubleshooting, even my blackberry having issues is a little ok, but this is basically a screen that I’m supposed to pick up and it’s just supposed to work. I don’t want to be messing with it, fixing broken parts and software glitches, I just want it to work and to work all the time. And in that sense I approve of apples limitation, even no multitasking, for now. I have two suggestions for apple on software improvements so that even their first gen ipads could benefit.

    #1 is tabbed browsing – no real explanation necessary I think

    #2 is an apple approved multitasking dock. This could be a pop out dock loaded with apps that apple approves to run in the background while running your main app. Whether that would be a music player, IM client, Pandora app, or whatever. Most people are really upset by only being able to run one app. I think a lot of these people could be satisfied, at least a little bit, with two apps.

  39. flynnstudio says:

    Nice Review and one I feel I can trust since you clearly and dearly love all things Apple (as do I).

    What many seem to be missing is that this is the first time anyone has attempted to dispense with the mouse-desktop metaphor as a total productive experience. This time it’s minds through fingers that touch and manipulate, not minds through pointers – a layer has been removed – they have not simply dropped the desktop OS onto a tablet.

    Without getting indulgently over-technical Apple are on the way to giving us all our very own ‘cyberbody’ of information that we can hold and squeeze, stretch and flip and move between devices of all shapes and sizes. To think just 5 years ago Windows XP was considered cutting edge!

    However, shame they left out a cheap Camera – even if it was just to act as bait for the Netbook warriors! I think ‘mom’s, granmas and juniors all over the world could have been ichatting to each other with these things.

    Still, like you I can’t wait!

  40. acfra says:

    I am very impressed with the iPad and do intend to purchase one in the future. But I will wait until GPS, cameras and a phone is introduced for the later versions. So maybe a 3rd generation iPad will be for me. As an amateur photographer, I hope that Adobe Photoshop will be able to run on it so that I may be able to edit my pictures with the stylus…and I don’t mean their current Photoshop app, unless that is improved significantly that matches the Photoshop Elements 7 version at least.

  41. clarsach19 says:

    It’s great to have you back online Stephen – finally an intelligent voice to listen to on todays issues! Keep it all up please :-) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  42. hairyegg says:

    “Afterwards I was allowed to play with one myself.” What‽


  43. IdeaCollector says:

    Oh iPad…some day you shall be mine. The only thing that keeps me away from apple mania is my general lack of money and iti s a shame that it’s so bloody expensive. Still now that I’ve got my macbook pro..I’m never going back to PC. Quality just shines through and despite my pushing my few mac products to the limit they hang in there in a way any PC has not. Apple users may not been the coolest people on earth but we know what we like and what we like is high quality electronics.

  44. MaclandUK says:

    Thought this was pretty apt for Horp especially after his pretty sh*tty comments about Stephen’s integrity.


    Stephen keep up the good work, it is appreciated :-)

  45. agonist says:

    lovely review, stephen. your comment about jack bauer made my day.

  46. Vainly Airborn says:

    A wise rapper called Scroobius Pip once told me “Thou shalt not question Stephen Fry. I took this to heart as a life motto. I’ve found it easy enough so far, but now is the test of my faith. I shall remain strong.

    I do agree with the point that one of the reasons (the only reason I can think of, as it stands) that this product is going to sell is that it is manufactured by Apple. There are enough people out there who will buy anything as long as it is shiny and has that possible-Turing-tribute logo stamped liberally over its surface to keep this product afloat until it finds a reason for existence.

    It is not hard to imagine a world in which this item has a place. Indeed, it looks like a glimpse into the world of science fiction, which is to say that it looks feasibly like something that the world may depend on in the future. But it is going to need something new. Right now, I can’t see any reason to own one. I am the nay-sayer mentioned who believes that it is a solution without a problem.

    Unless that problem is that there are still Apple devotees out there who have money and only own products they need.

  47. JoeCool1986 says:


    Is a backlit screen with no e-ink a good display for an e-reader/video player?
    Answer: No

    Is a device that doesn’t support flash good for being an e-reader/video player?
    Answer: No

  48. butchfoote says:

    I didn’t get the impression that 3G was unlocked or contract-less. I think you are locked to AT&T for either $15 or $30. Can you share links to the details?

  49. Andrew Sampson says:

    As the producer of this site I’ve seen many comments over the years. I used to think that allowing comments would allow the site to blossom and become ever more popular. Over the last year and particularly now, I question the point of allowing them within the blog when they simply make me tense and angry. That’s me, not Stephen.

    I have wrangled with this for many years. Stephen and I have always discussed it at length believing that in the end, we’re better of putting everything into the public domain via this site and Twitter.

    However, we are a privately owned site and are answerable to no one. Speaking in defence of my business partner and friend, I don’t see why we should have to endure them any longer. We benefit in no way other than being upset. To those that think it is your right or claim you are being honest, you are not. You are merely venting your own inner frustrations within a space that allows your to be heard. You use the guise of a few carefully chosen facts to cover your bile. When you are confronted with honesty, like all bullies you either back down or meekly try a few more lines of lies. Frankly, I don’t see the reason why you should be heard any longer.

    Trolls be gone.

  50. Horp says:

    Some of you are quite highly strung, aren’t you. Isn’t there an iphone app you can download for that?

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