Unless you have been living under a rock that blocks WiFi signals, you have probably already heard that Apple has announced with a throbbing intensity that it will be releasing a Tablet like device called the iPad to the public in the next couple of months. The announcement will finally end the wild-ass speculation has been clogging up the Intertubes over the past couple of weeks and instead has already begun clogging up the Intertubes with wild-ass conjecture about how this device will alter the very fabric of our society.
I am not so sure about all that.
As a modern user of technology, I have two devices that I use daily. My workstation, and my handheld. My workstation is optimized for me getting things done. It has a large display to assist in multitasking and a full two handed qwerty keyboard for quick data entry. It is good for watching movies and listening to music. There are a multitude of methods for getting data on and off it as well as a near limitless amount of options to process and manipulate that data. The workstation is pretty much the best at doing everything except moving.
And making phone calls, but that isn’t as important at home, or is it?
The mobile on the other hand by definition is great at moving. If it does any subset of the features the workstation does in a usable manner then that is icing on the cake. Mobility here is the key to this sort of devices success. Also, the mobile is great at making phone calls as well. So good that in some cases it has eliminated the need to have a phone that doesn’t go with you everywhere. In this respect mobile devices have become revolutionary because they have changed the fundamental way in which we do things.
The iPad straddles the functionality of these two devices. The screen sure is bigger and prettier than my current mobile devices is, but it doesn’t provide nearly the experience of the 22″ monitors I use on my workstation. Additionally the device cannot replace my current mobile because it doesn’t have the ability to make phone calls, which is honestly the primary function of my mobile device. Besides I am pretty sure that it will also be harder to get data on and off of this device, given Apple’s syncing track record.
So what it comes down to, getting this device is adding a third device to your life. This is an additional item to keep up with, complicating instead of simplifying life. There is nothing revolutionary about it. It is a big iPod touch with (eventually) available 3G. Don’t get me wrong, I have long been a huge fan of the iPod Touch as a huge leap forward in hand held devices, but I still think of it primarily as a toy. So my as my logic follows, the iPad is just a bigger toy.
What would be revolutionary is if the iPad could replace your existing mobile device and act as a sort of traveling user profile holding your personal programs and data with very low level integration with a workstation transforming into more of a landing pad for your one device instead of being though of as the primary device itself. The iPad may be headed in that direction and if so, I will prepare my Kool Aide cup, but until then I will stick with my current paradigm.