Strong opinions, weakly held

Needed perspective on iPad hype

I’m excited about the iPad. Not enough to have pre-ordered one or anything, but I think it’s going to be a cool device, and I find it easy to imagine myself reading stuff on one during a flight or using it to post to Twitter while I’m watching TV. It’d be nice to have a device for surfing the Web with a decent-sized screen that doesn’t get hot enough to fry an egg.

Gadget afficionados are licking their chops, but what shocks me is the degree to which media businesses are head over heels over the iPad, thinking that somehow a new form factor is going to reinvigorate their business. News Corp is going to charge more for an iPad subscription to the Wall Street Journal than they charge for a Web-only subscription, more than they charge to deliver the paper to your house, and even more than a subscription that includes both.

Scott Rosenberg compares the media’s reaction to the iPad to its obsession with CD-ROMS back in 1994. Media businesses want a ticket back to the good old days, and the iPad, purely through the virtue of being something untried, looks like that ticket. These guys are drunk on the possibilities of the iPad today, but the hangover is going to be a miserable thing to see. If I were more clever, I’d have already learned to program for that platform, and now I would be out charging insane hourly rates to build doomed apps for desperate publishers. Maybe next time.


  1. It’s not too late! the ‘Pad is simply a fat iPhone/Pod.

    Heck, there are even a few libraries that let you write WRT apps and run ’em on the ‘Pad.

  2. There’s this fabulous disconnect now because average joe’s can’t see an iPad in person yet. I think the most meaningful week of coverage will be next week, when people actually discover the device’s advantages and limitations in person.

    For me, I pre-ordered one, am pretty excited about it. I keep a laptop on the coffee table, read books on a Kindle, and have my iPhone in my hand about half the time, so I am squarely in this devices early adopter sweet spot. I am also excited to try out future devices in similar form factors that have more full featured OSes on them. Looks like June for the HP Slate running Windows.

    Most of all, I’m excited for our industry, we’re moving forward even if this device doesn’t pan out to be as big a step as some people are touting it to be. Computing has come in mostly one shape and size for a very long time.

  3. To tack onto what I posted above. I was very skeptical of this device when it was announced. It’s odd for me to change an opinion/state of mind like this without some empirical evidence, so it’s likely that I have been swayed by others “under the influence.” I’m really looking forward to having actual experience with the device so my opinion can be fully baked and emphatic.

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