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. Horp says:

    Okay I just noticed the post above the last one I left. You’ll not believe me, and I wont waste my time trying to convince you, but I hadn’t even read that when I posted. I was responding to the various posts in response to my own.

    I’ve never been to Stephen Fry’s website before today (to the best of my recollection) and only came here today after following various debates about the ipad on various public and private forums where I saw a link to Stephen’s posting on the subject.

    To my mind, Stephen’s post stood (and stands) in sharp contrast to everything… absolutely everything else I have read today, and a lot of what I read today came from the people who were there at the event as well. So shoot me for asking if I should jump to conclusions. Go on, shoot me.

    I have an essential accessory for internet communication. Its one that I think a lot of you could benefit from. Its low tech, solid state, multi-platform, always on, and doesn’t require a power supply. Its a thick skin.

    To have a blog with open comments and to expect only agreement an sycophancy is foolhardy. To treat every dissenting opinion as an attack and to get upset, personally upset, about it, is utterly pointless and you are wasting your own nervous energy.

    Let me reassure you Andrew, and Stephen too if necessary, that I wont be visiting your site again… not because I don’t want to or am opposed to it in any way… I am a big fan of Stephen Fry’s work… I will log out now and not come back so that you can stop feeling quite as invaded and vulnerable as you appear to be getting.

    I would advise that you take measures to moderate more closely in future to be honest. I still don’t consider anything I’ve said to be at all unacceptable or shocking and frankly there’s a whole lot of horrible stuff out there in the big wide world that could come crashing here to rattle your sensitivities to the core.

    Best Wishes and keep up the good work.

  2. makepeace says:

    Dear Stephen,

    Although I love you as a brother, I am afraid that this blog is almost unreadable on an iPhone, which is rather ironic! Specifically all is well till you get to the bottom of the page where the “1 2 3 4″ page numbers are pretty much impossible to click and there is no “Next > ” link as there is on the regular page…

    Even stranger (for one so enamoured of the mobile browsing experience) you seem to have disabled the pinch-to-zoom feature so it is impossible to enlarge that part of the screen so that it is more clickable with a finger tip.

    Just thought you would want to know :-) Love the blog, totally agree on the iPad of course, people are so blinded by what they know, they cannot see all the things people will do on their iPad that they are not doing on any device today…

  3. Andrew Sampson says:

    @horp Well that’s marvellous, I’m so pleased you achieved what you intended to and now wish to back out of the site having wrought a little destruction. I do not return your best wishes. Goodbye.

  4. Lisa Spangenberg says:

    Safari for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad has tabbed browsing now; it’s just not the same UI people expect. You can have multiple Web browser windows open at once. There’s a little rectangle with a number that tells you how many you have open; touch it to navigate/select between windows.

  5. Goatherd says:

    An interesting point of view, as always. There´s no doubt Apple know how to put on a show, and have a knack of producing very beautiful designs, coupled with well designed (and sometimes ground-breaking) interfaces. They seldom produce anything new – rather pick & mix features from pioneer devices. Why has iPod become synonymous with portable music, if Diamond’s Rio players where around 3 years in advance? The afore mentioned reasons help to explain this, but also clever marketing, sheer brand value, and the devotion of millions of Apple fans. Just like Harley-Davidson in the bike market, it doesn’t matter if it under performs, doesn’t have half competitor’s features, it will have a number of people guaranteed to buy it for the status it confers, etc, etc…
    Is this a sin? No. But I’m in my early forties, and have accumulated a ton of junk over the years. I dream of achieving zen-like detachment where I see things for what they are, and only buy devices that I really need. In this context, the iPad looks like a bit of fluff, and can effortlessly be replaced & outperformed by a cheaper netbook. I’d like to buy devices based on real features, and not brands. But it’s soooo difficult to see straight, when everyone is this partisan.

  6. JohnnyBoy says:

    I wasn’t going to be able to afford to change over to a Mac for at least another year. Now, not only can I, but I’ll have one I can use on my lap (unlike my, ahem, laptop). And they’ve given me enough time to save up for it.

    And I’m happy to fall in with your line, Mr Fry. Whether the specs and experts suggest it’s better to wait a while for the 2.0 or 3.0 iPad or not I’ll always be at the front of the line when people like you are handing out such high-grade enthusiasm.

    That other bloke earlier reminds me of a boy in my class who complained when having to walk in line in front of two girls that it was going to be all ponies and rainbows. If he’d asked, I would have happily swapped places with him.

  7. groogan says:

    @jezebel is correct – your criticism of the Google Voice transcription service is unwarranted. The service is only available in the US and optimised for the vernacular.

  8. JeffStewart says:

    Such a beautiful thing and so few people who understand how it will change the game. So many unable to see beyond their own tech literacy, their ownership of a phone and a laptop and more.
    The one thought I had again and again as I read the hype was: I hope it’s cheap. And at $500 Apple has delivered like never before.
    Apple has delivered what for millions and millions of people will be their only computer. The only computer they need. The only computer they want. The only computer they buy.
    We don’t need multi-tasking. We don’t need a file system. We don’t need E Ink.
    What most of us need is a computer that’s simple, so we don’t lose files. A computer that, after a few years is just as fast and responsive and fun to use as when we bought it, even though we’ve bought a load of apps to play with. What we need is a new way to connect.
    Just think of the millions of text messages and tweets we send on cramped keyboards, or on machines that we watch and wonder at while they boot up. And then think how different it will be when a useful keyboard is there instantly at the slip of button, and we can share and enjoy so much more.
    What we need, after all, is to be part of the internet, part of the greatest advance that humanity has ever made. To touch it and have it touch us.
    And when the world – and not just us gadget geeks – realises that the thing that makes all this possible is a computer as beautiful and responsive and simple as those candy-coloured iPod Nanos that people went mad for a couple of years back, the revolution will truly have arrived.
    Enjoy it. Remember it. In a few years we will know that, for all the hype, that dotcom booms and the social networking, the internet revolution really only began in January 2010, when Steve Jobs stood up at an Apple event and launched the iPad.

  9. jTemplar says:

    I will stick with my iPad Mini for the time being ;-)

    Do give my love to Jonathan, please, Stephen ;-))

  10. benbro says:

    Saying that Stephen has again produced a perceptive and delightful post always seems somewhat redundant, but it’s true again – thank you!
    Looking at the iPad (and can we all just grow up on the feminine hygiene thing please?) 2 thoughts come to me – the first is a simple observation that my mum and mother-in-law should have one, as after the huge drop in familial tech support calls when they were forcibly migrated from windows xp I can see me becoming redundant completely with such locked-down hardware and software. I’m already looking forward to it…
    The second is more work related. As a doctor in a university hospital I can see these devices going a long way, if the security issues can be addressed. I could sit with my patients in clinic or on the ward and show them their results, x-rays, or CT scans on a device with better resolution than the CT scanner they came from… simple, scaleable, but with powerful enough CPU/GPU to allow scrolling through image slices at the bedside. If my patient is shortsighted, I can just touch the image to resize. This process is next to impossible on the current IT infrastructure – to the extent I often wheel my patients to the only worthwhile workstation on the floor just to help show them what is happening in there…
    On an easily cleaned, wipedown portable device with a huge battery life I can get the blood test results at the bedside in ICU or the endoscopy suite. I can use (iphone enabled PACS viewers like Osirix) to plan procedures. The vast array of medical resource, from reviews to journal articles and the whole panoply of PubMed literature is searchable from an iPhone program such as the excellent Papers. I have ready access to guidelines, best practice, evidence based medicine as if the papers were on my lap – with better and more accurate recall than I ever get from my brain. The few weighty but indispensable reference tomes on my office shelf can be there in all their virtual glory. And then the med students would be there with their iPads of reference books, annotating and lining cheerfully in their tutorials, lectures, and rounds. No camera suits the medical market fine, thanks; and multitasking whilst iTunes plays rarely reassures the patients or improves my productivity!
    So to those saying “iMeh” in various ways because of a lack of Flash, or a camera, I say think about how this device has the potential to revolutionise healthcare and education. Not to say it will, of course, especially given how mac-phobic my hospital employers are, but the potential is there – just like the initial iPod and iPhones, we can’t always foresee the direction we are heading but I’m sure it will be fun…

  11. Rzah says:

    Consider yourself bookmarked :)

    Upon first discovering that the iPad was basically a big iPod Touch I must admit to some initial disappointment, this clearly wasn’t the doodah I had been dreaming about, and this feeling was only heightened as I watched Mr Jobs walk us through what were in essence, enbiggened versions of the apps we cherish, yet are so familiar with from the iPhone.

    It was only after thinking about it a little that I realised ‘a big iPod’ is basically exactly what Frank Poole held in his hand to read the news in 2001, that Jean-Luc tossed on his desk every time someone disturbed him with some space trifle, when you think about it pretty much every time Hollywood has taunted us with a tablet it’s essentially been a big iPod touch with a nice app.

    I’d imagine this realisation caused it’s own share of headaches at 1 Infinite Loop, It would have been far more satisfying to sell a whole new concept, instead they found themselves having to pitch the unlikely truth that the perfect mobile experience is “what we already done but bigger”

    I held out 6 months when the original iPhone came out, I knew what it would become right from the moment Steve revealed it at MacWorld, I wasn’t holding out for V2, I was hoping it would get cheaper (It didn’t), still think it’s the best gadget I’ve ever owned and while that MKI iPhone doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the later versions what it does it does well and it still has a heft, a tactility to it that’s unmatched by its more capable successors.
    The seemingly obvious device is going to change the computing landscape and I for one can’t wait to unbox it, hopefully before iPad2 comes out.

  12. Kirk says:

    @Horp

    I think it’s fair to disagree, and have an opinion, but frankly, you weren’t constructive, you just turned it into a personal attack, without any justification. Stephen, did not warrant such an attack, and you, are a bad person for doing so. Simple.

  13. jhg says:

    @SFry. Glad you had fun on this trip, and that the iPad floated your boat ‘n all… BUT!!! Apple has done nothing new or exciting here. It’s form, function, and design is all deja vu. This iPad is an over-sized iPod Touch, and (@JohnnyBoy) no one should think that v1.0 can replace that notebook you wanted, or even a netbook.

    What disappoints me most, is that there are available technologies that Apple has yet to bring to market at this level, and they’ve missed an opportunity, which doesn’t endear me to the brand, a brand which wants you to be loyal to it and buy everything it offers. What would have been the cost of introducing multi-tasking for example? Every other new smartphone offers it, the A4 processing power is in there, yet Apple don’t value you enough to include it.

    And where is the innovation in this product? Something you expect always now from Apple. What’s the iPad’s raison d’etre? I’ve seen the iPad best described so far as a ‘vanity’ product, i.e. a vain Apple company aiming their superfluous product at misled consumers, conning many out of a few hundred $s.

    Personally, I won’t be happy with tablets until I see something along the lines of two touchscreens that can interlock; one would display a virtual keyboard when locked together, with laptop processing power, and a cheaper cost due to less parts, economies of scale, etc… it would be so easy to do, but I guess we’ll just have to wait until reincarnation v15.0 before we’re ALLOWED it.

    Still, I’m hopeful that this summer’s anticipated iPhone 4G will not disappoint me in the same way, as I’m in the market for a new phone, but Apple has not shown good form here. The same can be said for a number of other tech companies, it’s true, and I guess I want someone to move the tech race on at a faster pace! It can be done.

  14. thom000O says:

    I have read pros and cons. I like the prepaid 3G plan that is optional but the killer for me now is no flash, big blanks on a lot of websites until they correct that. I read you can only run one program, or app, at a time as on the iPad, for something that might be someones’ ‘only computer’ they would be missing a lot with an iPad.

    Those two issues fixed and when I can afford a $500 extra, but nice, gadget, I would buy one.

    As far as a camera, think about it, you want to hold the thing up to be able to ‘video conference’ from the couch with relatives? Maybe if you are at a desk and half it propped up but then use an iMac, much more impressive computer.

  15. Earl Hose says:

    Stephen, that is Excellent!
    As a recent, aged recruit to iPod, may I issue a *warning* about giving away card number to a certain “music download” site? If you think you’ve just bought limited access worth less than $5, and the sign-off message from the site says “Thank you, you will be debited by TRANSACT-BILL.COM”, or similar, you must immediately switch off the power to your computer, put a stop on your card and burn all your clothes, because an untraceable IP west of the Urals will hunt you down by your body odour and suck your blood.

  16. ajehals says:

    Whilst the iPad looks like an interesting platform and may well be something that goes down well with the general public given Apples phenomenally capable sales and marketing people I do wonder if we aren’t giving something rather more capable up. In short, I wonder if it could be seen as something that holds back the uptake of general purpose computing tablets (which have been around for a long time, but have been largely subbed). Anyone who has ever owned a ‘proper’ tablet PC (and I am posting this comment on one now) will know that they are fantastic as e-book readers, for looking at maps, for drawing on, for taking notes etc.. and at the end of the day they are also laptops. Swing out the keyboard and suddenly you aren’t limited by a touchscreen for text input.

    I have been a fan of PDA’s (I have a stack of palms, a couple of clié’s and a few Ipaq’s) all of them had strong points, whether it was the shorthand on the palm, the clié’s wonderful screen or the Ipaqs power and screen size. None of them were designed as ‘touch’ devices, so they were all hindered by the use of a stylus (well I could put Linux and things on the Ipaq’s making them more finger friendly). All where a little small as book readers and poor when it came to web browsing, they were fine as portable media players and email readers, but then I have a phone (one of those HTC devices…). I have also owned a mass of notebooks, which up until a few years ago where awkwardly heavy and just too big to be universally useful although obviously very capable.

    Then I discovered IBM’s X series notebooks. Small, well built and with decent specifications and battery performance. In fact I was so impressed with the little gems that I now have 4 of them in the house (for my other half, my eldest son and two for parts in case they suddenly become hard to get hold of and the ones we have start to fail…). The X series probably made the biggest impression on me for being well designed, in the same way that apple hardware does now. The little think light is wonderful, the screens are bright and good quality, the cases are solid enough to take the weight of a 2 year old or to take a fall down a flight of stairs (I can prove both…). From there I decided that I wanted to take my obsession with hand-held gadgets and PDA’s to its logical next step and get hold of an X series tablet.

    Now if you haven’t seen or used one of these and are interested, try and get hold of one, it is worth it. The X41t and X61t tablets are both rather magnificent, the 61′s come in stylus and finger operable models, the 41′s are older and are stylus only. They share the same sturdy build, small size and decent battery lives as their other X series cousins, but feature a screen that swivels. When folded down I have the best e-book reader I have so far seen, more than that I can read, make notes on and generally treat my notebok as.. well as a notebook. Yet because it runs a proper operating system (I run Linux, specifically Debian with KDE4 providing a surprisingly tablet friendly interface) I am not limited as to applications or functionality. I can do everything I want, there are no issues with DRM, I have the usual connectivity I expect from a laptop (wireless/HSPDA/Ethernet/Phone Modem) plus video out, an SD card slot, USB, audio etc.. If you swap the supplied hard disk for an SSD (a £60 upgrade at the moment) it also becomes very very fast and it is perfectly possible to keep it in an always on, or rather always available state….

    Now granted the X series tablets are heavier, larger (but with larger screens and less ‘appliancy’ than the iPad (and some idiot thought that there was no need for a Thinklight) but they sure as hell provide a lot more. In fact they are far closer to the kinds of star trek like gadgets I expected the future to deliver as a kid than the iPad appears to be. That said, if I can get my hands on an iPad I would be interested to play with it (well if I can get Linux on it at some point I might consider buying one…) but I can’t see that happening any time soon.

    So, in short (TL;DR) I hope that this doesn’t move us away from general purpose computing to a more appliance based model and I hope that the rumours about how heavy/invasive the DRM is on these devices are false. Lenovo’s IBM X series tablets are decent general purpose tablets and might be worth a second look if this kind of thing seems to be what you are after.

    Cheers. Oh, and having just re-read my post, I would like to add that I am not an IBM/Lenovo employee or reseller etc.. although it seems I may be a bit of a fanboy.

  17. rnawky says:

    You must buy any and all applications for your device through the App Store.
    You can’t download Mac binaries and run them on your iPad.
    You can’t up load files through web forms from the browser.
    You don’t have complete control over your file system.
    Security is extremely, extremely limited.
    No camera.
    No keyboard.
    No video out ports.
    “You can change the homescreen to whatever you want.” (Apparently being able to change your background is a “feature”
    God awful 1024×768 resolution at an awful 132ppi.
    Only 18 different types of files supported as attachments. (compressed archives is not one of these)
    Only up to 576p resolution. 1080p and 720p are not supported.
    No Multi Tasking. (Background running applications which means forget about listening to Pandora and doing something else)
    You must repurchase your applications. ($30 for iWork, even if you already use it on your Mac)
    No USB ports. (so no USB storage devices)
    No Optical Drives. (CD/DVD/Blu-Ray)
    Can’t access network shares.
    Can’t adjust the devices font size.
    Can’t adjust the devices UI.

  18. dbqp says:

    I really want to love the iPad…and I feel alone in my reasons for not quite getting there.

    Steve Jobs says this new category of device has to do some things better than either a phone or a laptop. I think that’s logical and apt.

    And so the iPad does some of what the iPhone and iPod do. And maybe the iPad has bested their media experience. And it is certainly a more utilitarian device with iWork and iBookstore.

    Honestly, for browsing, email, reading, etc., I would rather use well designed software on a multitouch tablet than a heavy (and honestly, overpowered) laptop.

    So look from the other direction…in what way is the iPad better than a fully functioning computer? It’s not what it does better, it’s how it does it better – the form factor. At least I think that’s supposed to be the “better than a laptop” point.

    Unfortunately, Apple seems to have complicated (perhaps intentionally for all you iPad 2.0 marketing conspiracists) some basic functionality that is all but universally expected amongst computer users.

    Want to quickly share a file with a co-worker or family member? Lament the neccessity of removable storage if you wish, but how would this work on the iPad? Email? Sync? Either solution feels clunky, especially so when it comes to adding dongles to transfer files (possibly).

    Want to see a printed copy of that document? Can the iPad print anything? At least one hands-on review indicated that iWork apps didn’t seem to have a Print command on screen.

    What about sharing your iPad with a co-worker or spouse? Thanks to the iPhone OS, the iPad is stuck as a single user device. And there is the biggest missed opportunity for Apple to position the iPad as that yet unrealized “third device.”

    The form factor almost begs for you to hand the iPad off to others and say, “Here, look at this.” At home, it should be a coffee table device, always at hand for everyone to pick up.

    And what better way to create a “need” for more iPads than if everyone at work could just grab one and go?

    If multiple users could indeed have seperate accounts, if I could print, and if I could maybe just maybe plug in a USB drive to transfer files, then the iPad’s simplicity might help it win a couple of points over a laptop – thanks, not to its power, but thanks instead to its form factor.

    I’d rather check my email on it, I’d rather surf the web on it…I’m not going to create large documents from scratch on it. However, I’d sure like to plug in a flash drive to view, edit and print that one copy of a file I need, and hand it over to someone else who could login and use it too.

    The saddest miss on the iPad – the chance for Apple to innovate with a multi-user interface. It wouldn’t have to be facial recognition to be better than the slider – gesture based login anyone?

    And maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be able to listen to some music while we did it.

  19. masternav says:

    Stephen, bravo old man! Eminently enjoyable prose that was insightful and humourous. As for the rest of the geek squad is off on the usual “doesn’t have a gazillion ports for everything I want to connect to it, it won’t let me listen to the lightly streamed musicality of Pandora whilst I steal cars in my current rage game, etc.” Most of the “technology writers” write for rather sycophantic chipheads who gladly decry anything not inline with their desires or rumor-fed fantasies. *waving hand in a vaguely Jedi way* “this is not the tablet you are looking for, go on about your business.” There now if only it were so easy. Too few recognize the real paradigm shift this represents. Nor the planning that went into getting all these consumers to buy and use devices that would provide them with both the experience in multitouch interface, and the framework to deliver a fulsome and complete set of applications for their many needs. My adored and persistent 1st gen iPhone has functionally replaced a laptop in all but a few rather prosaic needs, and continues to provide a delightful and well constructed interface. That has now grown into the iPad and the stage is set to move the whole of the consuming public into a better 21st century, and in a way no other company was able to plan, or execute with such success. Like magic pictures, or a vast panorama, you just have to figure out where to focus to see what is really there.

  20. Ashley Burton says:

    It’s funny how polarising Apple can be, if Nokia or HP released a product and some people didn’t like it or didn’t see the point they’d express apathy or disinterest but whenever Apple release a product there seems to be a queue of people waiting to throw rocks at it, and anyone who admits to liking it.

    Personally I think the iPad looks great and I’m quite sure that I’ll be buying the 3G as soon as it’s released over here in the UK, I’m also pretty sure I know exactly what I’m going to use it for. I’ve written at length about why the iPad is important, essentially it’s a ‘down the side of the sofa’, or ‘on the coffee table’ casual media device and whilst I don’t think that it’s going to revolutionise the way we do anything I do think it’s going to massively improve the way we access all kinds of media.

  21. simplejim says:

    Why is everyone griping about having no Flash support.

    95% of Flash is used to advertise Porn, Evony, Scams and anti-virus software.

    I can do without that.

  22. GreyCells says:

    @insertjokehere Yes, I’m aware that USB/SD have adapters, but why? How long before they get broken off or lost? Something else to carry with you or forget to take. Gets in the way when you want to see the photos/video from your camera.

    And why not spend an extra $8 on a low grade web-cam? I’m sure it’ll be on the v1.1.

    It’s the deliberate omission of standard interfaces that grates. There’s no technical, design, ergonomic or (insert excuse here) reason for it. It’s just making things awkward for customers for the sake of a proprietary socket…

  23. poglad says:

    Yes, once it has two cameras, built-in GPS, 1080p TV recording and playback, nano-projection etc., who can deny that such a device would be both groundbreaking and compelling? But for now, it remains “nothing but a large iPhone and something of a disappointment”. Isn’t that the point?

  24. Karski says:

    It was 2am in Western Australia when I logged into the websites providing a blow by blow account of the Keynote address.

    Before moving to a MacBook Pro with the introduction of intel, I was a HP Notebook and IPAQ user. I loved my IPAQ and chose it over the PALM because it was basically a small personal computer, loaded with Word, Excel and Outlook. It was also crammed with many useful apps that were a must for our international consulting business. The problem with the IPAQ, was that due to it’s size, it was impractical to complete any real work in the Office applications. Although I longed for an iWork or good Office suite on the iPhone, I expect that the same would have been true of this device.

    Our whole company is now using Macs and we will have fingers poised to click “Buy with 1-Click” once the iPad is available. Why? Because our team needs to respond to our international business at any time of the day. It is not practical to carry a laptop everywhere – just to cumbersome and conspicuous (not good form to rock up to a restaurant with a laptop under your arm). The iPad will be discrete enough to take anywhere. Selling points for us are iWork (it may well be difficult to revert to using iWork on a Mac!), the on-screen keyboard, beautifully functional Mail, Safari and all the Apps that we currently have and those still to come. Personally, there will be three iPads in our household alone.

    It is actually positive to have the negative feedback, because Apple are listening. The iPhone is evidence of this; it now has 3G, improved battery life, GPS etc etc. The same will be true of the iPad.

    Maybe the iPad should come loaded with a free iBook – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

  25. nik2740 says:

    Thanks for the lovely review – All very exciting. Refreshingly enthusiastic, as I was when I watched the launch online. I like Stephen can not wait, although waiting an extra month for 3G will be painful in the extreme!

  26. L Redpath says:

    A lot of people have been complaining that the iPad doesn’t have this or doesn’t do that, these people are missing the point. The iPad is not interested in being the swiss army knife of tablet computing it just wants to do a selection of everyday things extremely well in a fun and intuitive way.

    I cannot wait to get my hands on on in March!

    Nice article Stephen, enjoy your day.

  27. Menotyou says:

    Apple love is like religion, irrational

    So, I’m sure that you have heard about the iPad. Some famous people have been talking about how good it. One these people is Stephen Fry. Douglas Adams and Stephen Fry were apparently good friends. I understand this maybe a tender subject for Stephen, with Douglas Adams passing away (RIP) not long ago. But the fact is Stephen Fry and Douglas Adams were both public figurers.

    They both talked about there friendship publicly.

    If part of a persons job is being in the public eye, and that person doesn’t want the general public to talk about there public relationships, then maybe this person should choose another profession.

    This is your bed, you made it. You have no one else to blame but yourself that must now lie in it.

    So Stephen Fry and Douglas Adams were both very public about there love for Apple products.

    So when I heard about Stephen Fry’s comments regarding the iPad and had to investigate further.

    On his web site Stephen Fry talks about how great the product “feels” to use. How you “just know” it’s classy.

    When I hear Mr Fry talking like this I am reminded about his, and Mr Adams position on something that many people just “feel is right”, or they “just know”.

    Religion.

    The great thing about “just knowing” something is that you don’t need real facts to back up what you “know”.

    Instead you just make the facts fit what you already “just know”. Why would you need facts to back up something you already “know”. You don’t need facts, just “feel” your well though. It’s magic baby, you don’t need facts.

    I hear you. Your saying “Hey, at least Mr Fry has actually held and used the device, “experienced” it if you will”.

    Ah ha, one the most common thing’s you hear from people that are strongly religious is that you can’t really make a judgement about religion until you have had a a “religious experience”.

    I lot of non believers say that this is just your mind playing tricks on you.

    They says that people believe what they want to believe, what makes gives them what they want.

    Your assumption about what you expect to perceive, affects what you actually perceive.

    The things you perceive in your mind are not real.

    They are your brains attempt to construct a model of reality based on the information received from your senses, and experiences you have had in the past.

    This is true for most humans, religions nut jobs and Stephen Fry alike.

    I understand that Mr Fry is just voicing his opinion.

    He is free to hold any opinion he wishes to hold. He is also free to voice is opinion.

    I am free to voice my opinion of Mr Fry voicing his opinion.

    I remember watching a game show in the UK, on which My Fry was making an appearance. At one point that host turned to said “Is there a god”. Mr Fry quickly shot back “No darling”.

    Now I agree, which is why I am a little frustrated by Stephen Fry (I sure he does not care).

    I find it amazingly frustrating that many people to seem to hold critical thinking in such high regard, seem to so readily abandon it when it no longer suits them.

    If Mr Fry thinks that people should re-evaluate what they believe and why they believe it, maybe he should start with himself.

    Thing to remember about this is that the iPad is important because it is a “tell” from Apple.

    Why the ipad is important is because it tells us what Apple really does.

    Apple does not create hardware.

    Apple does not create software.

    Apple does not create gadgets.

    Apple creates experiences.

    The anouncement, ads, hardware, software, and packaging are all just part of creating the experience of being an Apple customer.

    The iPad is simply a medium to experience certain forms digital content. The iPad was designed to be the snazzyest, slickest way to experience certain types of content in a certain type of way.

    But experience is subjective, affected by the mind perceiving the experience.

    Just as Stephen Fry and Douglas Adams believe that religious people may do well to apply critical thinking regarding there religious beliefs. I prescribe the following

    In this day and age of spin and more spin. I believe that the same level of critical thinking that is applied to religion, should also be applied to ANY and ALL communication from a private corporation or regarding the products from private corporations.

    Apple does not like you. Apple likes your money.

    Apple is not your friend.

    Apple has no soul.

    Apple has no heart.

    Apple is an organisation who’s sole purpose is to make money.

    Apple makes it’s money getting people like you and me to hand over our money to them (in exchange for goods and services of course).

    So Apple wants something from you.

    Most people know to be sceptical about what someone is saying when they want something.
    Think about this the next time you hear a message about Apple products.

    Also remember that Stephen Fry has items for sale on the iTunes store.

    What do you think he wants?

    P.S. Mr Fry, if you happen to read this please do not be offended, or view it as a personal attack.

    I have a huge amount of respect for your work (I don’t know you I can’t say I respect you).

    I also have a HUGE amount of respect for the work of Douglas Adams.

    It is because of the respect I have for your and his work that I felt compelled to write this.

  28. amy1oowho says:

    Mr. Fry (Stephen Fry? It feels awkward to call you Stephen as I have never met you, and probably never will), thank you for being absolutely correct. I love laughing at the critics when I know they are wrong, and I love it even more when they are forced to eat their words months later. For example, consider the reaction to Apple’s decision to open retail stores. Most “authorities” on technology predicted that they would fail within a year. We can see now how wrong they were about that one. And thank you for standing up and saying that not all Apple fans are elitist jerks. We are total nerds, and proud of it. If we seem elitist, it’s only because we truly believe our product is the best out there.

    I know you probably won’t read this, but I felt the need to express my gratitude for your existence to the world (or internet, as they are one and the same now). I often wish I was a gay man because I adore you. Lots of love.

  29. heatherbee says:

    Wonderful to read you again Mr Fry. And to read you in such a state of bliss too. I’m in a state of iPad readiness too and have my American friends geared up to buy me one as soon as it’s released (I’m in Australia and I fear we’ll have to wait a bit longer as usual).

    On naysayers – I’m surrounded by them, especially on Twitter but also in the media. But frankly, I’m not interested in anything they have to say. They’re too keen to sink the boot in – as they were with the iPhone. They’re trying to rain on my parade but I refuse to let them.

    On people who come onto a website and cast nasturtiums (sic) upon the host: how rude. Being a first timer might excuse him from not knowing the tone or culture of this site but what kind of person presents themselves for the first time as a dark minded know it all? First impressions last.

    On Andrew: I love his feistiness, general cut of his jib. A good friend to have by your side. I just wish he’d give up eating foie gras :)

    Good luck with the book Stephen. I wait with as much baited breath for it as I do the iPad (well, almost)

    ~Heather

  30. terrible tim says:

    This is my first time on this site as well. Stephens comments are spot on, if anything he has undersold the product.

    The iPad kills the Kindle, who would want a Kindle as a present, after seeing the iPad, I can see children crying and grown men smiling bravely but with their lips quivering if given a Kindle as a present, and the Kindle “was” expected to sell 6 million units in 2010 – no way, no chance.

    The market that this product really hits is kids, and the educational sector. Imagine a class room kitted out with keyboard docks, the kids rush into class, no longer burdened down by rucksacks loaded with posture stunting weights of books, but instead 1 iPad per Child, carried in little satchels toughened and hardened so that they make excellent weapons for the playground, which double as bats for games or even can be used as vicious A4 shaped frisbees.

    The kids slam their iPads into the keyboard docks and the teacher suddenly has control. The 802.11n wifi gives (theoretical) speeds of upto 600 Mbps, allowing media to be streamed from anywhere to anywhere in formats that allow you to use Avatar3D as a flashing icon. who needs an antediluvian 3G comms capability, when all the local carrier networks are restricted to pissy little e1 (t1 for usa) circuits unable to support more than 2 or 3 video channels each ! the data will be carried over plastic pipes planet wide & the iPad is the perfect window for that data.

    the school day ends, the children’s mums arrive enmasse, to transport them elsewhere, what do they do for entertainment in the car, their iPad – They get home, do they watch telly or do they facebook. Anyone with kids will tell you, they will want to do both, grazing thru the American soaps whilst at the same time, discoursing with their surly digital buddies, on their iPad.

    the strict parents among us, may insist on some homework time in which case the home based keyboard dock may become an object of hatred to which we tether our darling offspring, but as a parent, I would be quite happy for them to hate this object of physical data entry, rather that, than they hate me, their, doting parent.

    The market for this product is 1 iPad for every child, this is huge. Apples ownership of almost the entire component supply chain means fantastic margins when they hit the multimillion volumes this product is certain to hit. The only thing Apple does not own yet is a display fabrication facility, and an aluminum mining conglomerate. That will come.

  31. pigcry says:

    As an IT professional who is called upon by family members to solve home computer problems on an almost weekly basis, I have long argued that PCs (and I include Apple Macs in there) are hugely more complex than 905 of their owners need. I firmly believe that we need a home computer that works like a television, where no technical knowledge is needed to operate it,when you turn it on it just works and it doesn’t keep crashing. On a side note it is interesting to note that the reverse is in fact happening, televisions and the like are becoming more like badly behaved PCs, I regularly have to reboot my freeview box when it crashes. But that is another story. As I was saying we need a simple PC for the masses, one that surfs the web, sends emails, handles media, and does some of the othere things we use PCs for. When I got hold of an iPod touch, my immediate reaction was, this is it. This is all the computer most people need. It works. It is intuitive to operate and it doesn’t (seem to) crash. If only they made it a bit bigger, maybe had a optional keyboard and mouse. I should really mention these thoughts to Apple, I am sure it would take off…… I am going to spend my remaining days telling anyone who wants to buy a PC and doesn’t work in IT to get an iPad instead. Maybe Steve Jobs will give me one in lieu of commission.

  32. khurt says:

    The vitriol that has been spewed in the direction of the iPad seem unprecedented for a device that is not yet available to the public. Unless you were one of the fortunate few who have had a chance to use it ( and only then for a short time ) you simply can NOT say “this will fail”, “no one wants this”, “it’s junk”. Apple does not introduce a product without thinking of the target market and I think they have produced a product that the vast majority of computer users want. I watch my wife and other family members – all of them non-technical people – use a computer and I often wonder whether they wouldn’t be happier with a simple Internet kiosk. They turn on the computer, launch the browser, and stay there most of the day.

    With a web browser, my family (wife, kids, nieces, in-laws) pays bills, checks email and creates documents and spreadsheet (thanks Google), plays online games, shops around for deals and coupons, catches up with distant friends and family (facebook), watches television (hulu and youtube), movies (netflix streaming), reads the news, plan meals (allrecipes.com) and family events (mypunchbowl.com), and book a restaurant or play. All from a web browser. None of those activities fully exploits the 2.66 GHz, 2GB, 320GB HD, MacBook my wife currently uses or the 20″ iMac my kids use.

    The iPad is what most people want.

  33. Alex McKenna says:

    As middle class and English it is almost impossible to call anyone stupid, it simply isn’t done. But in the case of Horp and similar creatures, the temptation is almost too much. A lot of people just don’t “get” the Apple thing, confusing “good design” with just having a pretty case. The system underneath is where the genius lies. Frankly I would prefer it if my iMac was an Art Deco monstrosity, but I live with the thing because it just works as a computer should. Giving Horp and his ilk the benefit of the doubt though, perhaps they might not be stupid after all – they might simply be desperate, with a shop full of Nokia phones or Dell laptops, or have a contract to service Windows boxes.
    I plan to use my iPad to sort photos for my magazine, and write articles on the train, when a laptop would be too heavy and cumbersome to take round. I have no doubt the iPad will take off, and all this daft stuff about multitasking will soon fade away. After all, who needs Pandora, whoever she is, when one has a radio-gram in the corner? With a pile of dance band 78s. (Or maybe this is just me?)
    At any rate, on the iPad, one can listen to iTunes and surf at the same time can’t one?

  34. KevanM says:

    The ‘thing’ that Apple seem to do so well for their mass market products is give the illusion that they’re not very technical.

    Some geeks love the fact that Apple products are hugely technological but also beautiful and (often the same thing) not very technical. I love the fact that my 4 year old daughter can use an iPhone largely because she moves to one picture from another in a similar way to the way she turns a page on her books. she doesn’t need to know what Page Down means or is.

    Many geeks hate the fact that they are, well, not very technical. If its not technical it can’t be technological. The veneer of technical knowledge that these geeks like to maintain for themselves is worn away if ‘your Mum can use it’.

    This geek likes the fact that generally (there have been exceptions) Apple products are much better to look at, much easier to use (and so get used more often for more things) and that they achieve these things by being hugely technological.

  35. stotty says:

    This is like politics. Why does everyone feel compelled to try to change everyone else’s mind? Will you derive some perverse satisfaction in being later able to claim, “I told you so”? Is all this vitriol worth it for that one nanosecond of smug satisfaction?

    It’s very simple, really. The iPad will either become a phenomenal success, a flop, or something in between. Those who want one will buy one, those who don’t, won’t. If you buy one and end up being disappointed, I suppose you are out whatever your purchase cost you although you still will own the device. If you don’t buy one, you are out nothing. So, why then are those who, without even having held the iPad or interacted with it, trying so hard to convince the believers that they are loony? Do you feel compelled to protect Apple aficionados from themselves? If so, it is a fruitless (pardon the pun) exercise. There is nothing that you can say that will convince an Apple user that a lower-cost PC or cellphone could provide a superior user experience. Conversely, there are those who have a deep-seated animosity towards Apple and nothing that the fanboys can say will change that. I will say, however, that in my experience it is far more likely that an Apple hater will convert than for an Apple user to abandon the platform for a return to the PC/Windows world. That tells me all I need to know.

  36. John Hurst says:

    Nicely put, Stephen, a gleeful note of admiration and gratitude to those who take a great deal of care, and put in a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge, in order to bring to us reasonably intelligent users of technology devices we can use, not just mechanically, but with a spring in our creative steps. That’s the point the Microsofts of this world never seem to grasp.

    My first entry into the digital world was back in the day when companies employed dedicated word processor operators, and when the high priests of the nascent IT departments guarded their arcane knowledge jealously. My first experience of using a Mac – one of the blessed, oh-so simple Classics – was on one with all its menus configured for a French user. I have no French, but was able to intuit where I was going and what was going on, something I confess I cannot replicate on a Windows machine, even if its menus (and sub, sub, sub, sub menus stretching towards infinity) are configured in primary school English.

    So I’m with you, Stephen. Whatever business model Apple operates with, we can, and should, celebrate the sheer, beautiful simplicity of their innovations, making each interaction with the binary world a pleasurable experience. And yeah, you’re right, you should have bought those shares.

    Regards,

    John

  37. michaelg says:

    I really don’t understand why you all feel the need to have flash. With HTML5 around…flash is dead..or rather it will have a very low pulse. I am giving it 5 years and its use will be reduced to the low thousands. It requires an infrastructure around it…I know why Steve Jobs wasn’t too keen on it. Cuz its days are numbered…he probably consulted with his top engineers on it in the conference room.

    Youtube and Vimeo are already using HTML5 and it works well. Youtube is of course using the h.264 variant that works on the iPhones/iPod Touch’s (not Touches).

    This iPad is more “lap” than your typical laptop/netbook. Seriously, I have never gotten comfortable with a laptop in my lap in bed or a sofa it was designed to be more on a desk. The one thing is that this is what any person can use based on instinct of what you want to do with your fingers/hands to move things or whatever. It is more than meets the eye. Just wait till those developers start playing with the updated SDK. Imagine this device to control your TV and dim your lights in your home and start a movie on your Apple TV. Free your mind!

  38. Elifant71 says:

    All I have to say is that though Stephen’s words entice me I am still going to have to wait and see how it all unfolds. I have been looking for something like the IPad or a net book for easy of use while traveling or lounging at the local cafe/bar for an easy afternoon, but like the original Iphone I still prefer my blackberry and don’t see me laying it down anytime soon! Cheers!

  39. SomeDave says:

    The upas tree has a Wodehouse connection. From “Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves:”

    “What’s the tree I read about somewhere that does you in if you sit under it?”

    “The upas tree, sir.”

    “She’s a female upas tree. It’s not safe to come near her.”

  40. mactricity says:

    Ever since I switched from PC to Mac (lo, those many years ago in 2001), I don’t understand the irrationality of the people who “don’t get it.” Apple does not make products for you. Go home. Play with your PCs and waste your time on finding the latest nVidia driver for your Ubuntu distro or playing the latest version of “Call of Duty.” Apple does not care if you like their product.

    But the secret is: Many ordinary people who are not too technologically oriented will “get it.” Or they will wander into an Apple Store or Best Buy, pick up the iPad, play with it, then plunk down $500 USD to get one. This is Apple’s market: People who just want stuff to work and work easily so they can do things. The key to Apple has always been software. The design is important, but it’s a bonus. How their products react to you is really the essence of the Apple experience.

    Apple will always have hardcore fans. Has anyone ever stopped to figure out why? Why do all these people love their computers so much they will use nothing else unless forced? I have had a long list of problems with my Macbook, and yet, I would not trade it for a PC that’s 3 times the price (OK, really I would, but only to sell it on ebay to make money for an iPad and a Macbook Pro).

  41. stuartdavenport says:

    What a refreshing read! You should do this every year, sounds like lots of fun! :) Cheers

  42. spinoza says:

    Goatherd: “There´s no doubt Apple know how to put on a show… They seldom produce anything new – rather pick & mix features from pioneer devices. Why has iPod become synonymous with portable music, if Diamond’s Rio players where around 3 years in advance? … But I’m in my early forties, and have accumulated a ton of junk over the years.”

    The reason that folks like Goatherd have “accumulated a lot of junk over the years” is precisely because they can’t distinguish between a Diamond Rio and an iPod. My 2nd gen iPod, circa 2003, is still going strong and is used daily. My first gen MacBook Pro, now four years old, is like new and is being used to post this comment. It’s been used several hours a day since purchasing it, a real workhorse.

    I haven’t accumulated a lot of junk over the years, my habits are very Zen-like. But I do know how to distinguish between quality products and junk.

    The iPad is a work of art, created by a company I have confidence in.

  43. bgfreeman says:

    Yes, the iPad is beautiful, shiny and all that. It’s amazing.iPad version 2 will be astonishing. Thats the one I’ll get.

  44. Swilley says:

    Great article!

    Definitely going to buy one….maybe two. I think I’m going to hate sharing it!

  45. TabithaBun says:

    @Horp, you can keep your pride in the possession of a “thick skin” and being “on a mission to speak my mind”. I’ll trade those in for the ability to feel and describe the feelings of excitement, joy and wonder at man’s inventiveness any day. It is pitiful that you hear enthusiasm but feel cynicism, see joy and compute the monetary cost and witness integrity and deduce conspiracy. Please, try sitting with awe and wonder for a few moments, your life will feel so much richer.

  46. jTemplar says:

    Stephen Dear, I find it rather perplexing your site proudly proclaims itself ‘Ipad ready’ yet is unable to render properly on the Opera web browser – when I hit + to increase magnification your enthusiastic ramblings fall off the side of the page, unlike any other site I visit.

    Like this:

    hen Dear, I find it rather perplexing your site proudly proclaims
    lf ‘Ipad ready’ yet is unable to render properly on the Opera web
    ser – when I hit + to increase magnification your enthusiastic
    lings fall off the side of the page, unlike any other site I visit.

    I know I could, (and do), use your increase text option but I have to repeat that for every page I visit on your poorly rendered site.

    As for the ‘iPad’ I find my ‘useless netbook’ can do much more, better, than Mr Jobs’ offering; for example the iPad is said to be “great for sharing photos”, yet what should I do if my friend gives me a USB stick full of great photos he wants to share with me? – Oh yeah! Buy an Apple accessory and make sure I carry it with me everywhere I take the iPad.

    What should I do if I want to listen to Spotify while surfing the web? Answer: use my Netbook.

    I could just about accept the limitations of this device had Jobs not been so critical of the products of so many good companies who have worked hard to bring us great netbooks.

    Don’t get me wrong – I can see this device has its’ uses particularly in academia and business where presentation are used and cameras forbidden.

  47. monkeyaround92 says:

    Has anyone ever told you how awesomely you are?

    I am not currently in an independent economic position to purchase an iPad, and I think I am going to wait to see if apple will come out with something that resembles more of a Mac than an iPhone; I am planning on buying one in the future.

  48. trixieedgewood says:

    And I thought you came to San Francisco to see moi. How selfish of me. Still, I’m glad you came. Your thirst for knowledge is inspiring.

  49. rasmaestro says:

    I have only studied the iPad very little, but would it be fair to predict that:
    iPad + better connectivity = death of note- and netbooks?

    On top of that, it might even become a graphic design tool (assuming further improvements on touch screen technology). Look at the Wacom Cintiq and subtract the pen.
    Apple could well be envisioning this as the future PC altogether. But first a prototype platform must be established. Then we take Berlin.

  50. ichorus says:

    Anyone guessing what the price may be?

    iPad, 16GB Wifi version will be no less than £400. Thats my prediction. Probably £410. Thats based on how apple don’t understand the exchange rate (just check apple.com and apple.com/uk)

    So If I want one with only wifi will I have any issues getting the one from US?

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