A couple of weeks ago I launched the BNPC (Buy Normal Personal Computers) campaign to try and stop the flood of PC users switching to Apple. However, I’ve got to admit that so far things haven’t been going well. In fact it seems that more and more people are switching over to Apple products and the company is reporting record-breaking sales.

The new iPad hasn’t helped. On Monday Apple announced that 1 million had been sold in just 28 days. Less than half the time it took to shift the first million iPhones.

Although the iPad is not yet available in the UK, my company had one sent over from the US, and I got the chance to take it home over the Bank Holiday weekend to see what all the fuss is about.

Make no mistake, as with many first release products from Apple, it’s not perfect. Steve Jobs argument against Adobe’s Flash may be well founded, but not having Flash compatibility did limit my experience of the web.

The iPad lacks other features too, most notably a camera. While this was no great loss to me over the weekend, the absence of a viewfinder means that cool Augmented Reality apps such as Layar, will not work on an iPad, which seems a shame.

Another minor quibble is that the iPad feels surprisingly heavy when you’ve been holding it for a while, although this didn’t seem to bother any of my kids – even my two year old – it was noticeable to me as I spent hours playing Angry Birds (for research purposes of course).

More significant for me was the real sense of being in an Apple controlled ‘walled garden’ when using an iPad, with access to Music, Films, Apps, and e-books controlled by iTunes, the App store, and the new online Book Store. As a veteran Apple user I should have been used to this, but somehow the lack of other input devices made the iPad feel far more cut off than say a MacBook Pro.

None of this mattered to my children, who immediately fell in love with the iPad and enjoyed playing games and interacting with its large screen high quality display. As a parent, I was really impressed by the animated e-books such as Toy Story. These brought familiar content to life in creative and engaging ways, and showed what the future of children’s publishing could (and should) be about.

Ironically, although the book reader worked well – it felt a bit dull in comparison to the other applications. I did like some of the magazine and comic book apps, but whether these would get me to start buying magazines again as opposed to simply accessing content on the web remains to be seen.

  • So, is it an overblown iPod Touch? Well, yes.
  • Is it another industry game changer? I think so.
  • Did it lead to near death battles for possession within my family that lasted all weekend? You’d better believe it.

The iPad is made for families. To compare an iPad to a Kindle or a Nook seems unfair – it simply blows them away. Whether it emerges as the industry leader in this new product category remains to be seen. But I’m pretty sure that Apple has once again created a new genre of devices that will in time transform the ways in which we engage with books, newspapers and magazines.

What does all this mean for my campaign to stop people switching to Apple products? I concede it’s a major blow. The fact that Microsoft has dropped its plans to launch a tablet PC is another set back. But, it’s not too late. Google is rumoured to be working on an iPad killer, in the same way they designed the Nexus One to take out the iPhone, but we all know how well that turned out…


3 thoughts on “iPad Review: Don’t believe the hype – a million people can be wrong

  1. I dont think you are far wrong there.
    Im a PC, mainly because (1) Im not a designer and (2) I really dont like Mac OS; its just wrong.. However Apple are great at making gadgets and the iPod Touch and iPhone are great products. When the iPad was was released I thought “ooh shiny shiny I need one” but then I struggled to see the practical elements; especially due to the lack of features. However I think you are right, its definately aimed at families and will also be picked up by middle aged folks with poorer eyesight for smartphones.

    As for Apple being more controlling, I think you’ll see more of that in the future. With Tech companies pushing hard into Cloud Computing, Apple are shifting away from being a hardware company due to reducing margins. I found this great Blog post which expands on this: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/04/why-steve-jobs-hates-flash.html

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