The Success of the iPad and KISS
Disclaimer before making a fool of myself: This post is purely my opinion and is not based on fact. I'm not an iPad fan and I don't own one. On the other hand, I'm very happy to see it doing so well because it opens possibilities for all of us with competitors and better pricing.
Back when I wrote some reviews for LCD multi-function devices last year (with a tilt towards using them to read on), the iPad was just a rumor. Some people scoffed at the idea of Apple's idea, and others were waiting with baited breath for the thing to be released. Now that it has flooded the market, we can see that it is very successful. It doesn't matter if you hate Apple or not, the bottom line is that the thing would sell just BECAUSE it has the logo on it. Nevermind the fact that the device delivers on a deep level in just about every facet except being a true operating system and supporting flash.
We even have folks who weren't normally Apple enthusiasts buying the device now. Some people buy it purely for reading books, as it does that task almost as good as eInk with a lesser battery life and a backlit screen for people to take advantage of in low light situations. So all of you know this, and chances are those of you reading this have at least one or more ereading devices of some kind. Most of us have several!
So what did Apple do right? As I said before, in my opinion, they did these things right:
1. They are Apple. People will buy it just because it is. Some folks love it, some hate it, but thats a fact. Let's move on from the obvious.
2. It is easy to use. To me this is the most important aspect of a reading device or any electronic device. The general public will not adopt to trying to figure out devices and get things working. They want to take it home, plug it in, and buy a book to read, all without not having to figure out why their wireless isn't working or how to transfer the files over USB.
3. The interface is consistant with their other products. As much as we have problems with no flash or multitasking, the iPhone OS is a very nice little OS with many applications available. People get used to things and are resistant to change.
4. The device supports many formats of books
5. Surfing the internet works very well
6. Music sounds great and is easy to handle via already popular iTunes
The list goes on. We can see some of these things are fairly obvious. The thing is, do their competitors realize what Apple missed and can they develop some compeitition? I think so. Tell me what you think of my ideas:
1. iPad is pretty big to lug around and travel with. Some folks feel it is just fine for mobile computing, but many of us feel a 7-inch device would fit much better with our needs. Some of us also liked our Netbook form factor (and this bugs me because we might see the death of netbooks because of the iPad) and just wanted something more portable. Competitors could release 5" to 7" devices before Apple wises up and releases their own (Dell Streak comes to mind).
2. iPad is expensive. OK I said it. Some folks may not agree, but I still think $499 for the lowest price iPad is too much. I know, you can use the thing to remote control your TV, and even cook breakfast, but man, the prices for each model climb enormously (especially for 3G). eInk was expensive when it first came out. It stands to reason that Apple will significantly lower their prices as time goes by. Price is always a factor for adoption. At the same time, I think we all know that the iPad's popularity, as well as Android phones and tablets, are putting a dent in Kindle, Nook and eInk sales in general.
3. iPad (Apple) does not support Flash. For some people, especially those that play Flash games a lot (like my kids), that is a problem. I don't think the answer lies in this war between Apple and Adobe. Someone could beat them to market with something that works better in this regard.
I'll stop there and hope that someone else has thoughts in this and we can have a fun discussion. No matter where we stand with our devices, there are many new ebook reading-capable devices coming out this year and next. What would you like to see?