It’s amazing. The hype that went into Apple’s iPad event last Wednesday couldn’t have been greater. The same could also be said for the backlash following the event. Everyone has an opinion and many of them are negative.
The problem is that our expectations were too high. We expected be blown away. We expected to see things we had never seen before. We expected Apple to hand us the future on a silver platter. We were expecting too much from a device that hasn’t even launched yet. Like many, I found the event to be a let down. But here’s why I think we’re all wrong and Apple is right.
The iPad is the future of computing. It’s not trying to mold itself to our expectations. With this comes the consequences of app developers not fully understanding the power that Apple has put in their hands. That combined with just a couple of weeks of development time left us with apps built more for today’s internet rather than tomorrows. Apple is suffering from the chicken and the egg effect.
Why Apple’s Bet is the Right One
What was missing from the event was how cloud computing is finally coming into it’s own, how web apps are the future, and how interactive content is finally taking shape across all media.
What Apple left out on Wednesday was how MobileMe will impact the iPad. I suspect it will in a big way. With little to no file storage, the importance of the cloud is immense. Sharing of files in the cloud will open huge collaboration opportunities across all devices. You can already see Google becoming a huge factor on the Apple iPad.
When I first thought about how I’d like to use the iPad, one thing that came to mind was web app development – something I’d like to do on the iPad. Typically, I do the coding and testing locally before publishing to the live server. Clearly, if local file storage is a problem, then running any kind of server app on the iPad won’t happen. But with cloud computing, you don’t need to test or even code locally. You can do this from the web – just look at Heroku with Ruby on Rails. When you factor in the cloud, there are few, if any, apps that can’t be developed using cloud computing as a substitute for local file storage.
When Apple first launched the iPhone, they hestitated to create a development API. They insisted that web apps were the future. Apple was right. They were just a few years too early.
Now, with HTML5 and CSS3, you can build almost any app using the browser. There are exceptions, and many will continue to build apps for the App Store, but the future of mobile computing is web apps – it’s insane to think developers are going to build separate apps for Apple, Microsoft, Google, and other such mobile app stores.
The iPad is perfect for web apps. It’s large touch screen provides an awesome user experience and opens up many UI possibilities. Touching the web just feels right but it has too be done on a larger screen than the iPhone and this is where the iPad delivers.
One of the iPads greatest strengths is the openness it gives you to interact with content. Books, Movies, and TV come alive when you can interact with the content.
MLB’s showed off some of this potential. The iPad has given MLB, and most other sports, an opportunity to engulf people with their product. As consumers, we’re use to watching the game on TV, with camera angles, replays, and stats controlled by the producer. But that’s not the case for much longer.
Interacting with content gives us so many opportunities.
What if we can pull up our own replays, from any angle, and zoom into the smallest details? What if we can touch a player and receive all of they’re stats and watch the game from any camera inside the park? How would this change the experience? Throw in Twitter and you wouldn’t want to watch the game again without your iPad. The same could be done across any sport or movie. Interacting with content is the future. Watching on a big screen is nice but watching on an interactive 10 inch screen will be better. Touching does what no remote could ever do.
It’s for these reasons that I’ve done a 180 degree turn on my stance on the iPad. I’ll still wait for the 2nd generation model before I buy one – I expected it to address some shortcomings. I’m very optimistic about the iPad’s future and you can bet I’ll be thinking about how I can leverage it’s potential in the web apps I develop going forward.
So what do you think? Will the iPad succeed?