Sunday, April 4, 2010
With the launch of the iPad and all of the surrounding hype, I feel obligated to respond in some way. The real issue at hand it not necessarily the merits or success of the iPad, but the definition of a Tablet computer. The iPad goes beyond challenging the definition of a Tablet, but challenges the definition of computing itself by providing a model for a closed environment that removes the low level components of a computer and provides only a polished interface.
The main issue is defining a Tablet (or a tablet). The previously accepted definition of a Tablet was based on Windows XP Tablet PC Edition which added pen support to the Windows operating system. The definition was based around the means of input, not the form factor. The form factor was divided into two categories, slates and convertibles. The iPad clearly falls into the category of a slate. However, it does not meet the definition of having a pen based input. Obviously, it has touch base input, but the lack of a pen can be frustrating to a purist. There is no hope in convincing the masses that the iPad is not a Tablet and is a slate based only on the fact it has no pen input.
In the end, the iPad has brought more focus to the Tablet/Slate form factor than any other device. The lack of pen based input is concerning, and the addition of a pen is not likely to happen any time soon. The main difference to the consumer will be the operating system. The stripped down functionality of the iPad is one of the most attractive features and simultaneously its biggest flaw. The Tablet PC industry is well established, but only accounts for a very small percentage of the market. While all of the focus is on Apple, it will be interesting to see what happens to devices formerly known as Tablets. It would be impossible for those needing pen input, such as students, to move to an iPad without making major sacrifices. For many, the flexibility provided by a convertible computer are hard to compete with.
It has become obvious that Apple has made a huge impact on the computing industry with the iPad, but is it what consumers want? More importantly, is it what content producers, such as students, want?
Posted by Jared Hatfield at 8:37 PM