Stephenf, iPad, and some rationality…

ComputerSo I see this trending topic going around called, “I need to talk to you about computers.” It didn’t take me long to facepalm. See, Stephenf does a fine job of painting a perspective of technology evolution with a wide scope. He also has a fine point about consumers desiring more specialized and easier to use devices.

Unfortunately, Stephenf missed obvious points. First, the trend isn’t strictly with computers becoming more specialized. There’s also a trend of specialized devices becoming more computerized. Actually, we’ve had specialized devices for a long time. Take a car radio for example. A car radio was once electro-mechanical with no logic circuits. Somewhere along the way car radios became digital devices with lcd displays. Now, folks have full blow media centers inside their automobiles. There exists a giant webbing of technological points and the tendency is for those points to converge – for gaps to be filled in. Netbooks are an example of a gap being filled in. The devices are more powerful than smartphones yet more portable than laptops. Netbooks are popular because they filled a need.

But lets forget about all of that for a while, because it doesn’t actually matter at all. The previously mentioned facepalm had nothing to do with technology trends. Right now, the iPad is being discussed to the far reaches of the globe . The device did not have any features that surprised anyone. Yet, because of Apple’s reputation, the device is important. Apple has a cult following, this is what cults do… And Stephenf’s attempt to rationalize the value of the device with a long winded analysis of technology trends just sounds like desperation.

Maybe the iPad is in alignment with a technology trend. That’s not why the device fails us. It’s not even the lack of Flash support. The problem is the way the system is locked down. Apple cultists don’t care, they’ve already bought into iTunes and their collection of proprietary cables. By the time you’re a priest, you’re a lot less likely to question your religion. For the rest of the world, the ones that just want a simple specialized device for a particular job, we’re all going to buy the one that works with the rest of our toys while costing much less.

I don’t care if the device fails or succeeds. I know that there are enough people who don’t want an oversized iPod that there will be plenty of alternatives on the market. Google, Palm, and Nokia all have superior operating systems to put on competitive devices. All three of these companies have operating systems that can multitask. Go ahead, pretend that doesn’t matter. Even on specialized devices, it matters. Furthermore, all of these systems are far more open.

Being first to market doesn’t make you best. Ask the people who wrote the AltaVista search engine. The go ask the people who wrote the Webcrawler search engine. At the end of the day, the iPad just doesn’t matter.

One Comment

Adam

I get the feeling it’s SJ’s answer to the Kindle which seems to be pretty popular right now. It seems that Apple chases after such hot trends, and usually overcomes them. I really have a hard time believing that any tablet computer is going to be more popular than something pocket sized.

But really, it doesn’t matter to me either.

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