Apple had a blowout quarter but the iPad numbers disappointed. I think that part of the answer is in the the software that is available. The touch interface has had lots of e-magazines and games which are nice, but relatively little of the software that I would personally use.
I have an iPhone already and the user context that I have on those applications are to get updates on travel: airline applications, Hong Kong and London transport applications, maps and Accuweather localised forecasts. Personal information management to tell me where I need to be, with whom and when; along with the the details of anybody I may need to contact.
The user context for me having an iPad would be more akin to my laptop than my iPhone. It would be about creating longer emails rather than managing my email box, creating documents, presentations and editing spreadsheets. Whilst iLife applications are good, I tend to do a lot of work in Microsoft Office so that my work can be shared freely with my Windows-based colleagues, clients and peers. This could change as Microsoft moves its productivity suite to the cloud.
I also use a number of non-mobile optimised web services as part of my digital media consumption such as FastLadder.com – my RSS reader. It isn’t only me, when I think about the designers that I know there isn’t many of their tools available on the iPad either. This is probably one of the first times that Apple has launched a product that hasn’t been adopted uniformly at an early stage by its stalwart of customers in the creative sectors.
Give me a MacBook Pro to do the number crunching required by Adobe Photoshop, or debugging on BBEdit any day. Even though I use small laptops I actually use them most of the time attached to giant monitors so my screen area is much larger than the device size would indicate.
My own circumstances on using the iPad will probably change pretty soon, Omni Group is moving across a lot of their most powerful applications on to the iPad as they think that the touch interface will greatly improve the user experience. I use their applications when I am thinking about wire-frames and diagrams for client proposals and presentations.
The iPad is a satellite device, a smart Wacom-type graphics tablet, but if I had to choose between a laptop and an iPad (which many consumers are doing), for me it will be a laptop every time.
I can understand why consumers are choosing the iPad as a laptop substitute; its a nice looking device, provides access to Facebook and YouTube, email and eBay. In some aspects of its design philosophy the Apple iPad is a true descendant of the Apple II from the late 1970s, it has radically reduced the cost of providing a high quality computing experience without significantly compromising on product design. Like the Apple II it compromised on some aspects of ‘big computing’, but not in a way that would adversely affect the experience of many consumers. However for me, creating content is an important part of my device usage and there is nothing like being able to touch-type on a great keyboard. The virtual keyboard on an iPad isn’t there yet in terms of responsiveness and doesn’t provide the kind of haptic feedback that you get from the mechanical keyboard.
I could do without it, it isn’t like the iPhone which fulfilled an unmet need in providing me with an address book that worked without falling over when I uploaded my contacts (yes Nokia, I am looking at you) and played nicely with my Mac (ahem Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm).