There has been a surprising amount of backlash to Apple’s iPad tablet computer. The main things that people are complaining about include:
1) Crippled operating system. People were hoping for a real operating system that would be able to run (and multi-task) real applications on a real processor.
1a) Weak processor compared to a netbook.
1b) Limited application selection. “iPhone Apps” are not real applications.
1c) No ability to run Flash content on the web
2) Small screen. Given that 800×480 is now standard on Android phones, 1,024×768 seems measly in a 9.7-inch screen. 1,280×1,024 would have been preferred. Many netbooks now have 1,378×768 screens.
2a) No 16:9 screen. If you are making a device to play movies, why not make it 16:9 ? (1,378×768 screens are 16:9) (The JooJoo is 1,378×768)
3) No ports. No way to plug in a USB device, an extra memory card, an HDMI cable, etc.
4) Poor button placement. It could have been thumb-activated if moved.
5) Expensive books in the bookstore.
6) No pen input or character recognition. One thing a student might do with a tablet is take notes and draw. This seems like a natural market for Apple. Most Microsoft tablet PCs have had this ability for 5 years (and many are pressure-sensitive as well).
7) Poor keyboard experience. Using a “full size keyboard” on the touch screen is problematic because, lacking tactile feedback, you must look at your fingers.
8 ) No camera. It seems like every phone and netbook has a camera.
9) No GPS. See #8.
In short: People are comparing the Apple iPad tablet to a Windows 7 Netbook and asking, “Where’s the beef?”. The netbook costs less, has a real processor, adequate RAM, a real hard drive with much more capacity than the iPad, and usually the extras like a camera, USB ports and memory slots. This page shows the top 10 netbooks in 2010 and perfectly summarizes the problem:
Not one of them is over $400, they all have real operating systems and they all have 160GB hard disks. Plus they come with free keyboards.
This cartoon sums it up: Dear Apple, We wanted this…
This, it seems, is where the HP Slate (and the hundreds of similar products that will emerge in the Windows 7 and Android spaces) will be able to compete.
But will it matter? Microsoft has had a tablet operating system for years, and manufacturers have tried pushing Microsoft tablets for years, with no results. People have preferred clamshell devices overwhelmingly. But perhaps the iPhone has completely changed the tablet landscape, and Apple will fill a huge hole in the marketplace with its new iPad device.