Friday, January 29, 2010

Are iPhone and iPad gaming platforms?



Now that the iPad is out of the bag, will the 'big Apple' become the new capital of gaming? Or will the device turn out to be an 'iFad' in this field? With the iPhone’s phenomenal success and its app store also featuring plenty of gaming content, some gaming analysts have seen Apple as a new and important player in videogaming. Are they? I will discuss the iPad in general first and then move on to it and the iPhone as gaming platforms.

IPAD


The iPad 3G


Like many other analysts, I was expecting Apple to show something as original as the Microsoft Courier prototype. The way it is, we got just a big iPod Touch. Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ assertion that 75 million people already know how to use one must be followed by the fact that very few of them are likely to buy an iPad for the very same reason. Why own both?


The Microsoft Courier prototype


Of course, the iPad will have some cool features. It will run everything from photo albums to the browser very fast and smooth, though this is not surprising with such a closed and restrictive system, as we shall see. It has an extremely impressive battery life, which is one of the most important features to have with mobile devices (the single most important reason why the original GameBoy destroyed its competition). But, again, this feature comes at some dear costs, to be examined below. And you have a number of dedicated applications by third parties, like five book publishers, and content channels by some newspapers.

Yet Information Week and other news outlets were quick to point out a number of important features missing from the iPad. To briefly summarize, the browser does not have flash – mostly for security reasons and to save on battery life – and you also have no choice of browser, since every program must be downloaded through Apple’s platform. MacOS applications will not work on the device because it runs the iPhone’s operating system. Already, Jobs’ promise of ”the best web experience you've ever had” appears questionable.


The iPad running iBooks


The device surprisingly features no USB ports and no SD card slots (you need proprietary adapters) and it also has no HDMI output. It has no camera (where two were expected) and offers no multitasking. Only one application can run at a time. Apple’s carrier of choice is still AT&T, whose 3G network in the US is said to be shaky, I hear. Finally, it seems, the iPad will not feature real GPS. The 3G versions will use some kind of triangulation, I suppose.

The iPad has no USB ports and no SD card slot


I am writing this on an HTC Shift, which boasts pretty much the same specs as the iPad but natively runs Windows Vista (as well as Windows Mobile) and Windows 7 is running perfectly on it. Battery life does not compare to the iPad, but then you get a full OS and the ability to multitask. You also get a camera, flash support and free choice of carrier. And you can install any program you like. The list goes on.


The HTC Shift


As does the list of iPad’s shortcomings. I myself particularly regret that the device lacks an OLED, which had been rumoured to be included. And I find the standard resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels rather humble given the screen’s size. I also miss a physical keyboard integrated into the device. ”It's a dream to type on,” Steve Jobs said yesterday. But typing must be an awkward experience, because if you want to rest it in your lap, it faces straight up. You need to rest your feet on something to tilt it up in an ergonomically correct fashion. If you put it down on a table, it gets worse. The back is rounded, so it will constantly rock when you touch it. The stand accessory may come in handy here – although the limited height of the stand will surely make the iPad wobble when you are using the touchscreen. This is a mobile device and should be useful anywhere.

PRICE POINT

As far as mobility is concerned, I do not understand Apple even producing models without 3G. The main reason must be to be able to announce a $499 entry point. The non-3G product line is a total scam, in my opinion. This device needs to be able to go online, as Market Watch agrees:


At first glance, the beginning $499 price for a 16GB model that was announced by Jobs seemed a surprise compared to forecasts calling for something closer to $1,000. But the $499 does not include a 3G wireless connection, so that device would be only useful primarily at home or office networks.

The price with 3G wireless is $629 -- which compares with $259 for the Amazon Kindle, which is a single-use e-reader but can purchase and download books virtually anywhere.


I think it is highly questionable whether the iPad will find a noteworthy market. But what about games?

GAMING

Four years ago, I looked at an Apple patent that sounded very promising for games. It promised ”a wild new video game application for Apple’s accelerometer technology”:


It provides specific gaming examples of user as a driver and pilot and even provides a glimpse of how the accelerometer will be used in First Person Shooter games.

A user holding the tablet can turn around and see the view looking backwards from a position in a two or three dimensional image or object database as if the user walks into a virtual reality game space.



Apple patent "Methods and apparatuses for operating a portable device based on an accelerometer" (2006)


Why did we see no such games yesterday then? The ones demoed looked solid, but they were nothing spectacular. Apparently, ´Need for Speed Shift´ was even merely upscaled to run on the iPad. Will the big publishers hop onto this bandwagon, though, and throw their weight behind this device? Do they even support the iPhone in any serious fashion? Electronic Arts executive Peter Moore told The Guardian just before Apple revealed the iPad:


If it's got a great screen, some buttons, you can turn it on and it connects to the Internet, it's got the ability to be a games machine.


The iPad running iTunes


I wonder whether the remark about it featuring buttons was a swipe at the iPhone. I myself see one of the biggest hardware shortcomings of the iPhone as a gaming device in it lacking buttons and a stylus. You need a stylus to actually make use of every pixel on that screen (fingers are naturally broader than a pointy object, effectively reducing the playing field). And you need some physical buttons (or a touchscreen with haptic feedback) to give the player some feedback, a feeling that he is actually touching something. The iPhone has neither and I believe Moore was keen to point that out. His second condition for it becoming a games machine – the ability to connect to the internet – is only true of half the models. Entry models have no means to go online but Wi-Fi.

The iPhone running iTunes


The iPhone / iPod Touch combo has attracted some big names, true. But it still is no attractive platform for them and, most likely, never will be. Look at the Wii and its main problems with third party development. Cheap shovelware seems to sell too well (see ´Carnival Games´) for most publishers to give the hardware a real shot and invest some serious resources. With the iPhone, this problem is ever so much bigger. You have the umpteenth clone of ´Jewel Quest´ selling like crazy. And why not, it’s usually only 79 cent. But where are the big names in the iTunes charts? There are some, but almost all of those games are free or light versions of what are already very light versions of a big console franchise. You cannot charge more than $9,99 for a game and you already have a problem convincing the user base to buy a game for $4,99. They are conditioned for prices around one Dollar and with a plethora of offerings in this category – quality aside – they are not going to notice a proper game that has been meticulously crafted by a professional team, but comes at a premium price.


The iPhone running ´Scrabble´


In fact, such a large amount of shovelware is a marketing nightmare. Imagine going to your local GameStop and finding the store extended to the size of an airplane hangar. There are more than 7.000 games available. But do they compare with what we consider proper games? Apparently, the iPhone is in competition with the DS and PSP consoles, some people would have you believe. But you simply cannot compare the games. A blockbuster game for either of the gaming platforms costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. You cannot afford to sell it at anything but a double digit price, even if half a million people will buy it. So you churn out mini-games and slap a big franchise name on it. And you hope to sell more than some creative programmer who single-handedly programmed an iPhone version of ´Where’s Waldo?´.

CHARTS

At the time of writing, the US top ten list of games contains only two entries by videogame publishers: ´Rock Band Free´ and ´Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies Lite´. Both are free. The UK charts only contain the latter and in both territories the free ´Call of Duty´ game is beaten by ´FallDown!´, developed by a lone Swedish guy.


Screenshot of ´FallDown!´ for the iPhone


As far as paid apps are concerned, ´Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars´ is the only game by a big publisher in any top ten list. In both the UK and the US, Rockstar Games’ entry for $9,99 (on DS and PSP the game costs a minimum of $20 and $30, respectively, after already being reduced) is beaten by ´Doodle Jump´ for 99 cents, developed by a guy and his brother.


Screenshot of ´Doodle Jump´ for the iPhone


Don’t get me wrong. iPhone and iPod Touch have brought fame and fortune to some very creative indie developers out there. The platform creates a level playing field between amateurs and big publishers. But for precisely the same reason, big publishers shy away from it. Obviously, big publishers do not want a level playing field and, if you like deep, meaningful and immersive games, they don’t deserve to be dragged into one. Ironically, for all the control Apple exercises over games (no game is allowed to utilize the camera, by the way, for some unknown reason), they allow shovelware and the thirtieth Tetris clone to flood their market. They announce the amount of games available for the platform like it is a good thing. It is not. 7.000 games are way too many for any kind of manageable filtering to tell the good from the bad, the clone from the original. The PlayStation2 – the best-selling home console to date – has managed a software library of 1.900 titles by 2009 and it already suffered from great amounts of shovelware.

INCENTIVE FOR DEVELOPERS

I don’t see developers making efforts to include the iPad in their projects. If you already have a user base of 75 million people who own iPhone or iPod Touch (according to the Apple presentation), why go out of your way to include a special iPad mode when their userbase is obviously starting at zero. Gamasutra agrees, calling the iPad ”as big a crap shoot for developers as the iPhone is.”


It's obvious that, at least at launch, most developers are going to worry about making iPad-native versions of existing apps. Sure, "most" iPhone apps are compatible with the device out of the box, but while they're totally playable, they don't benefit much from being blown up to two times their native resolution. The benefit here is that the Apple fanatics who buy this thing at launch will already have access to their existing software libraries on their new device, which may reassure some purchase decisions.

But the retrofit mania will happen mostly because it won't make sense for many developers, particularly cash-strapped indies, to pour resources into iPad-native games when its future is less obviously bright than the iPhone's was. And indies won't be the only ones doing this. After demoing a version of iPhone Need for Speed Shift, quickly retrofitted for iPad, EA's Travis Boatman said, "We're going to be able to bring all of our other EA games from the App Store to this device in no time."


iPad running ´Need for Speed Shift´

Much more so than at the original App Store launch, it's going to be exceedingly difficult to stand out from day one -- unless you can come up with a tremendously original idea, execute on it well, and market it aggressively.

If you do come up with that great new idea, "we're going to put it front and center" on the App Store, promises Apple's SVP of iPhone software, Scott Forstall. That's a promise you can rely on. Apple routinely features strong software on the App Store and, more importantly, makes the choices itself, based on quality, without ad buys coming into the picture. But the slots are so limited and the process so opaque that you can't rely on it happening to you.

There is also another problem. Will developers curtail their market twice by, firstly, choosing to develop for the iPad only (ignoring many millions iPhone users and potential customers) and then curtail their user base even further by concentrating on only the 3G models? Hardly believable. An optional mode for iPad and another for iPad 3G could be an alternative but a costly one. Why invest in such special modes if you know the bulk of your returns is going to come from the iPhone userbase anyway? This way, the phenomenaly success of the iPhone will, ironically, hold back the iPad and prevent it from getting off the ground.


Xbox360 Arcade


Similarly, the Xbox360 still suffers from the models not including a hard drive. Developers are still required by Microsoft to make their games compatible with systems that only use a memory card. It splits the userbase in two, forces the manufacturer to impose silly rules on third parties and confuses developers.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I believe the iPad sales figures will be anywhere between abysmal and modest. For this reason alone, it will not get off the ground. It will lack dedicated apps for a variety of reasons. And as a platform for the big game publishers, it will never become truly attractive – which can also be said about the iPhone.

EDITI just discovered a small but embarrassing blunder in Gameloft's presentation which may show the limitations of the hardware. At 37:30 minutes into the keynote, the first attempt of throwing a grenade by sliding two fingers up the screen fails and moves the camera instead. Sure it is just a demo and was put together in a few weeks. But they chose to show it, so they must have been satisfied with the controls. If Gameloft cannot play their own title properly, how should I get to grips with the controls?

EDIT Wall Street analyst Brian Marshall of BroadPoint AmTech has calculated the manufacturing costs of each iPad model - a so-called ´bill of materials (BOM) analysis´, speaking to Computerworld.

The 16GB WiFi-only iPad components total $290.50, including manufacturing and warranty service costs. Its price tag is $499, making Apple's profit margin 42.9%. The 16GB iPad with WiFi and 3G costs Apple $306.50 and is sold for $629 at a profit margin of 52%.

So including 3G costs Apple a mere $16 extra, which seems to suggest that a non-3G entry model for $499 really is just a dummy, to be able to advertise a lower entry price, similarly to Microsoft's strategy with the Xbox360 core model, i.e. the Arcade.

The 32GB 3G model costs Apple $332 and is sold for $729, pushing the margin to 55.1%, the highest of any models, according to the estimate. Such margins sound very high, but are standard for the company, the analyst notes.

High profit margins are standard for Apple, which earlier in the week boasted that its corporate margin for 2009's final quarter was 40.1%. Some products, in fact, have estimated margins even higher than Marshall's iPad numbers: The consensus for the iPhone 3GS is above 60%, for example.


EDIT For those of you who understand German, I have translated most of this article with some marginal updates on the 3sat Neues blog.

64 comments:

jan said...

Don't judge before you tested it yourself.
My only concern is the closed software architekture.
But for everything else:
http://daringfireball.net/linked/2008/10/22/ballmer-iphone ;)

Falafelkid said...

Hi Jan.

No need to test the item myself to complain about the device's lack of multitasking, USB ports, cameras and a fully-fledged OS. That is a priori missing from the iPad.

As far as it attracting the games industry is concerned, I am in good company.

And Steve Ballmer downtalking a rival's product is not exactly surprising. I expect Steve Jobs snuffed at Windows when it came out and a 90 percent market share has certainly put him right.

Falafelkid said...

Oh, and there were moments when Jobs' speech was highly reminiscent of Sony's unforgettable 2006 E3 press briefing ("massive damage"). He really did say:

You can change the background screen, the home screen to personalize it any way you want.

jan said...

Some other perspectives:
http://cruftbox.com/blog/archives/001592.html#001592
and:
http://www.mikechambers.com/blog/2010/01/28/some-personal-thoughts-on-apple-and-the-trend-towards-closed-platforms/
and finally:
http://theflashblog.com/?p=1703
;)

Grandmaster B said...

I also had the same view as you Fal before reading our article and now you have only re-enforced my view even stronger that the iPad will not catch on.

It tries to do various things (and limited) that are not really needed to the mass market.

iPhone is good as it gives you a phone, internet and entertainment device in your pocket.

Notebook gives you basically everything and much more than what an iPad can. If you want to talk about portability, buy a netbook instead.

The iPad is a gimmick, its trying to tell people they need or want it when infact they really dont.

The Kindle is great and is also cheap. Why spend an extra $250 for an Ipad when you can do all those things on a notebook and a smartphone which a majority of people own?

Grandmaster B said...

Excuse my typing and grammar, 4 hours sleep and a 17 hour day so far.

My last paragraph I meant why spend an extra $250 over a Kindle when you can add a notebook/netbook and phone.

Ari said...

I absolutely agree with grandmaster... I mean I love the ipad and I would love to have one but what is the point of it when we have laptops and iphones and gaming consoles...

jan said...

Man, I'm really looking forward to read this article & the comments again in 1 year.
I'll lean far out of the window and say:
It will be a big hit with the masses and with people who already own an iPhone today.
Geeks who do not own an iPhone yet will not be convinced by the iPad either and continue to use their styluses and ugly hardware ;)
If I'm wrong you'll get a big spaghetti ice...

Falafelkid said...

Hi Jan.

You're on for that ice cream. Let me go out on a limb, too. Most iPhone users will not buy the iPad, since they already have a device that pretty much does the same - and more. Why lug this iPad around? iPhone users are usually people who are not the tech-savvy crowd and have never owned a PDA phone before (if they had, they might have been put off by the iPhone's limitations). So what would these people need an iPad for?

Also, a stylus is a great tool for mobile computing (it's the only method for inputting handwriting and recognition software is extremely advanced these days). When using your fingers, the screen grid available to developers is cut in half, at least. Nothing is as precise as a stylus and we are all accustomed to using pens - so what ever is wrong with that?

As far as beauty is concerned, it's a myth that Apple is the only manufacturer hat churns out stylish products. They certainly do. But so does HTC. In fact, the HTC Himalaya (MDA II) may have served as inspiration for the iPhone.

Essentially, I simply expect more vision from a product. Just look at the MS Courier prototype. There is a beautiful product which heralds a new way of interacting with computers. What can the iPad do that previous products couldn't? Nothing at all. For a supposedly single-purpose device it doesn't have a single purpose. You can browse the web in a limited fashion, you can type on it in a limited fashion. Apple is not even clearly communicating whether they see it as a mobile device (if so, why no 3G in some models?) or whether it's for the couch (then why no USB?).

Sure, people attacked the iPhone at launch for all its flaws (no 3G, no copy and paste), but at least the iPhone was in a category that was established and people had accepted they needed: a mobile phone. The iPad is trying to carve out its own niche, while still competing with many existing products - smartphones, laptops, netbooks and UMPCs - all multi-purpose devices. It is very hard to fathom how people would shell out hundreds of Dollars for a device that does very little and nothing particularly well.

So, finally going out on that limb, I predict that the device will not sell more than five million units in 2010, at the most. Apple will most likely be forced to reduce the price within the year and announce new hardware for 2011. Over time, the iPad will go the way of the Pippin and Newton.

Grandmaster B said...

I am/did go out on a limb as well. It will not sell as well to what Apple think it will.

I myself owned an iPhone, returned it due to the carrier doing some dodgy things. I was contemplaing getting another one with another carrier but I considering the HTC HD2. It is a better looking phone tha the iPhone but its also personal taste.

Jan, quote us both on it :)

Falafelkid said...

Hi Grandmaster.

Our newsroom tested the HD2 in December. It's a very nice device. The screen is amazing and HTC has done wonders in making WinMo user friendlier. I own a Shift already and my woman would explode if I bought another expensive gadget, but that would be the PDA phone for me.

Oh, and thanks for the moral support. We'll be sharing that ice cream, then, before the year is out. ;)

Anonymous said...

are you ever gonna post the nibris article? A simple yes or no would suffice. Thanks

Falafelkid said...

Hi Anonymous.

are you ever gonna post the nibris article? A simple yes or no would suffice. Thanks

Yes.

Grandmaster B said...

Yes I have heard only good words about the HD2 so its nice that you can say its good. I heard a rumour that there maybe a Android model coming? One of the reasons I was holding off.

But if it will run the WinMo 7 (I think it was) then I am hoping it will be pretty good. Need to wait and see.

Id prefer a whole ice cream myself though hah

Nick R. said...

The courier is vaporware without a solid price. 3D renders of something, don't make it a reality.

Saying the iPad is a big iPod Touch is really an ignorant argument. The device runs the iPhone OS, but that doesn't make it an iPod Touch. It is setup to do A LOT more than a Touch.
http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2010/01/31/ten-myth-of-apples-ipad-1-its-just-a-big-ipod-touch/

The build cost being $290 and the retail being $499 does not take into account R&D by Apple, or the software used on it, or the software updates that are sure to follow the release.

Most people just have a bad case of "future shock".
http://speirs.org/blog/2010/1/29/future-shock.html

jan said...

@ Nick R:
Exactly. Why has MS not released the Courier if it's so great?

@Falafelkid: 5 Million would be a huge success in my eyes for a new device category. Look at the iPod sales here. It took them 3 years to reach that!
And you will admit that the iPod is a huge success now, while I'm sure you doomed it when you first saw it and never owned one ;)
Let's say you get your icecream if they don't sell more than 3 million...

jan said...

To those who want 16:9:
http://mrgan.tumblr.com/post/393140797/16-9
And about the guessing of the margin of an unreleased(!) Product that nobody from outside Apple has ever taken apart:
http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/02/10/isuppli
;)

Falafelkid said...

Hi Nick R.

The courier is vaporware without a solid price. 3D renders of something, don't make it a reality.

Absolutely. But Apple was widely expected to show something as innovative as that - only ready to hit the mass-market. They obviously didn't.

Saying the iPad is a big iPod Touch is really an ignorant argument. The device runs the iPhone OS, but that doesn't make it an iPod Touch. It is setup to do A LOT more than a Touch.

Like what exactly? The fact that it does run only the iPhone OS makes the comparison very valid. If this device is meant to be any more than a blown-up smartphone (without the phone), then why can I not install open source software like Gimp or Audacity? I tell you why: It's because Apple wants to channel the internet through its own portals. This way, they get the bragging rights about billions of downloads and they get their share of the profit.

The fact that the iPad is so curtailed is to appeal to the big content providers. In Germany, the biggest print publisher is already forbidding iPhone access to web content of its two biggest newspapers in favour of an app you need to pay for. That is where Apple is leading us with the iPad and I simply don't understand consumers who are enthusiastic and willing to play along with this. Of course, the iPad will offer an amazing ease of use and that is a great idea, per se. But Apple is going to make people pay for it. Look at eBooks. Before the iPad has even hit the market, Apple has caused some eBooks to go up fifty percent in price.

With this in mind, let us turn to the article you linked to.

The iPad isn’t just a big iPod touch; it’s a significant rethinking of a product category that melds the simple mobile interface created for the iPhone with a new layer of familiar conventions with the full sized sophistication of the Mac OS X desktop, pared to a multitouch user interface. (...) If you’re not impressed, you’re simply not very intelligent.

I am not even going to comment on this, apart from suggesting the rapid and regular insertion of many a Paracetamol suppository into young master Dilger. (Apply to the same orifice where the article came out of.)

The build cost being $290 and the retail being $499 does not take into account R&D by Apple, or the software used on it, or the software updates that are sure to follow the release.

That is a fair point, of course. But bear in mind that every developer needs to incorporate those costs and Apple is known to overcharge. A fifty percent profit margin is hefty in this industry.

The other article you linked to is actually worth reading. He makes a valid point about the time lost on trying to configure computer systems.

Think of the millions of hours of human effort spent on preventing and recovering from the problems caused by completely open computer systems. Think of the lengths that people have gone to in order to acquire skills that are orthogonal to their core interests and their job, just so they can get their job done.

Quite. But if you apply the computer / car analogy the author laboured, we would all have to ditch cars and use public transport only. Or, put differently, why have gamers not all switched over to consoles? Think about it: this is a very effective comparison.

Also, such a switch is simply not going to happen on the business front. If you are aware of the computing needs of businesses in all kinds of fields, you cannot seriously suggest a solution along the lines of the iPad (or at least the ideology behind it).

Falafelkid said...

Of course, there are industries almost exclusively using Apple computers: most design-related jobs, for example. But when you need to connect the desktops of hundreds or thousands of employees, when you need server structures, when you need to run software like SAP, there is only Windows and Linux as choices, offering a wide range of accompanying hardware options.

I very much appreciate Apple for its different philosophy. It is a great and necessary alternative. But the company's fans tend to forget that Windows has a market share of ninety percent. Such a domination is never undeserved. Look at videogames. Sony may have borrowed many ideas from Nintendo since entering the home console market. But there was a reason why they came out on top for two generations. They simply offered the better package for the majority of consumers. And you need to realise that it is the same with Apple and Windows. Microsoft did not simply get lucky to command the monopoly they still do. Despite its many faults and frustrations, the vast majority of people want the flexibility of a Windows system and I do not see this changing.

Falafelkid said...

Hi Jan.

To those who want 16:9:
http://mrgan.tumblr.com/post/393140797/16-9


Why do I get the feeling that Apple fans can justify the omission of just about anything from the company's products? We don't need a camera! We don't need 16:9 or HDMI or an OLED. Isn't Apple brave for not including USB and Flash support? They are ushering in HTML5. What a great vision! After all, they killed Firewire for the MacBooks. Wouldn't it be great if they did away with the monitor, too?

I am sorry to turn cynical. But that is the impression I get.

And about the guessing of the margin of an unreleased(!) Product that nobody from outside Apple has ever taken apart:

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/02/10/isuppli


First of all, people have taken a peak inside the iPad.

But that aside, there is nothing magical about estimating the material and production costs of computer hardware and components. Whether it's Apple, Dell, HP or Asus, it's a global market and any analyst can easily tell you how much a webcam costs them at a certain number of units ordered. You don't need to have taken apart the hardware.

I really don't see why some of you simply won't admit any criticism here. There is just a tremendous amount of unwarranted hype surrounding the iPad and it is easy to understand why. Firstly, the media are hyped because the iPhone was a phenomenal success. Secondly, Apple hyped the product because the iPad will be the last product line Jobs introduces as Apple CEO. Let us just cut through the hype and soberly examine this piece of hardware.

Nick R. said...

I should have pointed out that I am a long time reader of this site - as in years.

I also should have had a disclaimer for the Dilger article. He came come off as a jerk to those that don't agree with him, and I was not intending for his jerkiness to be mine. He just makes some valid points.

Finally, I want to thank you for actually replying and looking into my links. Let's me know you actually care about the position you are taking.

Nick R. said...

NOW FOR MY REPLY TO YOUR COMMENTS:

I don't mind criticism against Apple, as long as it's justified. I thought the iPod Shuffle released this year was horrible. I think Blu-ray (even though it is not widely supported) should be an option for Macs by now. I think the last version of the iPod Touch should have had a camera. I think the online version of MobileMe is slow and buggy.... and those are just recent things. I could go on. My point is, I like Apple products and software, but will call a spade a spade.

The Courier should not even be up for discussion. It took Microsoft 3 years to show WinMo 7, and it still isn't shipping until the fall (we hope). So why do people think a 3D render of something, without a price tag, is something we should compare the iPad too?

It is just a figment of Microsoft's imagination for now.

The iPad has totally re-imagined the way users will interact with a computer. Yes, it built on the foundation laid by the iPhone since 2007, but there were numerous software innovations shown off that were exclusive to the iPad. Mail, Calendar, Photos, Video, YouTube, Keynote, Numbers, Pages and Contacts were all rebuilt from the ground up with only the iPad in mind.

How long has the mouse been around? Apple is attempting to kill it with the iPad. That's a pretty brave move.

Apple didn't cause the price of eBooks to go up. The publishers have been dying to increase the price, but Amazon has had them in a choke-hold. Now that Apple is on the market, the publishers are using that to their advantage. That's just business.

People would rather have their software locked, and not worry about viruses, malware, spyware, etc. For the techies out there that want more - well, that's what the DevTeam (jailbreakers) are for. But probably 95% of iPhone/Touch users are not jailbroken. They are fine with the way things are.

This is why "grandma" always has a virus on her Windows XP desktop from 2002. This is why Mom's 2005 HP laptop running Vista is only used to browse the internet and check email. They don't know how to take advantage of all the computer has to offer.

Apple offers them a way to take advantage of it, with the trade-off of not having "free reign" over the software.

Now my mom who is 51 is playing Doodle Jump & Words with Friends (GAMES!! My mom HATES games!). She got on the App Store and downloaded them herself. Along with about 30 other applications. Same with my dad, my brothers, sisters-in-laws, friends, etc.

It's catching like wildfire, and it has less to do with the brand being Apple, and more about what it is offering. If you think the Apple brand can carry a product please see the Apple TV (which I love, but most of the world didn't).

You make a solid point about public transportation, and honestly I don't see that changing anytime soon, but I thought the guy had a good take on the iPad.

Nick R. said...

Lastly, the price. People were expecting this device to cost $999. It's half that, and they still get bad-mouthed.

$200 over the "supposed" build price (which is not even fact, pur speculation), might look like a lot, but not for Apple. They put a lot of R&D in their products. They spend a lot of time getting the packaging right, ads right, marketing right, etc. They have songs that will be used in commercials that will need to be paid for. This list could get really lengthy, so I'll just stop now.

Exactly how much do you think they should charge? $10 over?

At the end of the day: Apple prices the products at what the public will pay. That's what every business does.

Falafelkid said...

Hi Nick R.

Thanks for your comments and continued support for this site.

I also should have had a disclaimer for the Dilger article. He came come off as a jerk to those that don't agree with him, and I was not intending for his jerkiness to be mine. He just makes some valid points.

First of all, anyone who calls all that disagree with him "not very intelligent" has very little in the way of arguments. He sometimes touches valid points, but mostly he is just waffling, in my opinion. Calling the iPad "a significant rethinking of a product category that melds the simple mobile interface created for the iPhone with a new layer of familiar conventions with the full sized sophistication of the Mac OS X desktop, pared to a multitouch user interface" is just meaningless dribble, if you ask me. A press release could not have put it less understandable.

Finally, I want to thank you for actually replying and looking into my links. Let's me know you actually care about the position you are taking.

That goes without saying. Anyone who puts forward coherent and valid arguments - and you do, for sure - can rest assured that I read what you write and follow up on suggested links.

The Courier should not even be up for discussion. It took Microsoft 3 years to show WinMo 7, and it still isn't shipping until the fall (we hope). So why do people think a 3D render of something, without a price tag, is something we should compare the iPad too?

Of course, it's not a straightforward comparison because, as you correctly point out, one is a real product and the other is a mere concept. However, the only reason I brought the Courier into this is because it is a very inspired concept, as I am sure you must agree. And it is precisely a concept as inspired as this, which Apple was expected to show. While following the presentation, I kept thinking: ´Where is the inspiration? When will they show the big gun? Where is the killer feature that will give the iPad something that no other device has? Where is the coop deal with major content providers?´ It never happened.

I am sure you must admit yourself that the iPad turned out to be no more than the bare features everyone knew would be in there. Of course, it's still a debate whether this may be enough for market success or even domination. So let us look at the device in detail. You did:

The iPad has totally re-imagined the way users will interact with a computer. Yes, it built on the foundation laid by the iPhone since 2007, but there were numerous software innovations shown off that were exclusive to the iPad. Mail, Calendar, Photos, Video, YouTube, Keynote, Numbers, Pages and Contacts were all rebuilt from the ground up with only the iPad in mind.

And what feature is there that I cannot already use in existing tablets? It's not like the iPad creates a new product category (they claim that, but they certainly have got competitors, not to mention netbooks). The iPad is a tablet. As you know, I am writing this on a HTC Shift, which is a tablet with a slide-out keyboard. It is running Windows 7 and Office 2007, which are both customized for touch displays, a great product and great software. And it can do everything you listed, while I have free choice of software and USB and SD card slot and HSDPA and... the list goes on.

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How long has the mouse been around? Apple is attempting to kill it with the iPad. That's a pretty brave move.

Again, by no means is Apple first here. The Shift is also a product that does away with a mouse (though you can connect one if you really want to). So is every existing tablet PC and netbooks, too, if you think about it. With the iPad, Apple is not innovating hardware-wise. They didn't with the iPhone. HTC had a PDA phone out which is practically like the iPhone some six years before. Apple’s software is the key and this is where they innovated in the mobile space. There really wasn't a mobile interface out there that utilized touch for a truly intuitive control. When it comes to tablets and netbooks, there is. The EeePC is just such a device. It is very easy to use, although it has no touchscreen. And it sold millions and millions because of its ease of use. I cannot help but think that Apple with its iPad is more of an also-ran in this field.

Apple didn't cause the price of eBooks to go up. The publishers have been dying to increase the price, but Amazon has had them in a choke-hold. Now that Apple is on the market, the publishers are using that to their advantage. That's just business.

True. But it can be argued that Apple only provided the platform for the publishers to raise the price. Amazon had the power to keep them below $10. So it is Apple entering the market and offering different terms to publishers that allows them to raise the price. And, ironically, Apple is denying just such a platform and environment to game publishers.

People would rather have their software locked, and not worry about viruses, malware, spyware, etc. For the techies out there that want more - well, that's what the DevTeam (jailbreakers) are for. But probably 95% of iPhone/Touch users are not jailbroken. They are fine with the way things are.

Ooh, that is a very contentious assertion there. I don't agree at all. Crippleware is never something customers want. They simply want products that work. And, of course, a regular Mac usually works better than a PC for a number of reasons: because it has a safer OS, because it is a more closed system of licensed software running on very few hardware configurations that only come directly from Apple and – and this is an important point Mac fans tend to forget - because no malware programmer can be bothered to code for less than ten percent of the market. Of course, a closed system will make things safer. But while the Mac is already a closed system, the iPad is positively locked down.

Do you think customers wanted DVD players and discs that are region-locked? They sure bought them. But the reason this system is so restricted and the hardware is crippled is to guarantee and safeguard the content providers’ profits. And customers merely tolerated it. The same is true of the iPad. Do you really think customers like that aspect? They might tolerate it, like they did with the iPhone. But no one likes hardware that is locked down. Every customer, when asked, would want a flexible and safe system.

This is why "grandma" always has a virus on her Windows XP desktop from 2002. This is why Mom's 2005 HP laptop running Vista is only used to browse the internet and check email. They don't know how to take advantage of all the computer has to offer.

Grandma will never get a virus on her PC unless her grandson visits “unsafe” sites. How else would she get a virus? Malware does not spread onto Windows systems by magic. You have to visit unsafe sites or open dodgy mails. And there are excellent anti-virus programs out there. The whole virus debate on Windows systems is a little labored and overstated. Also, not being able to take advantage of all functions is endemic for all computer hardware. The same is true of Macs, of the iPhone and the same will be true of the iPad.

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Apple offers them a way to take advantage of it, with the trade-off of not having "free reign" over the software.

Do you realize what you said there? You note that the hardware is not being used to its maximum abilities. And your (well, Apple’s) solution is not to allow the user to simply do more, it is to let the device do less. That logic eludes me. If someone can only use half of his body, the solution is to teach him to use all of it, rather than cut the person in half.

Now my mom who is 51 is playing Doodle Jump & Words with Friends (GAMES!! My mom HATES games!). She got on the App Store and downloaded them herself. Along with about 30 other applications. Same with my dad, my brothers, sisters-in-laws, friends, etc.

I guess Apple has managed to bring more people into gaming. And kudos for that. However, what kind of gaming is that? It’s on level with Minesweeper and Solitaire (my mum’s favourite). So Apple has done what Microsoft previously did with those two Windows games. Either is not a service to gaming.

Lastly, the price. People were expecting this device to cost $999. It's half that, and they still get bad-mouthed.

Again, look at the competition. The fact that Apple itself spun rumours of it costing $1.000 does not make the actual prices any better. And please stop citing the entry level price. 16GB and no internet on the go is simply not an option. I would only focus on the 3G range and, in my opinion, anything less than 64GB does not make much sense either.

$200 over the "supposed" build price (which is not even fact, pur speculation), might look like a lot, but not for Apple. They put a lot of R&D in their products. They spend a lot of time getting the packaging right, ads right, marketing right, etc. They have songs that will be used in commercials that will need to be paid for. This list could get really lengthy, so I'll just stop now.

No, please go on. You are quite right about R&D and this is something people should be prepared to pay extra for. But what was that? Packaging? Marketing? They need to pay license fees for songs they use in advertisements? Sorry to become cynical again, but Boohoohoo. Which person would ever consider such costs when purchasing a Windows product (hardware or software), or anything else, for that matter? Isn’t it quite telling that you listed those aspects? Does it not show the nature of the Apple fan or enthusiast? You may be (inexplicably) considering those aspects, but no average person ever would, sorry to say.

Exactly how much do you think they should charge? $10 over? At the end of the day: Apple prices the products at what the public will pay. That's what every business does.

A fair point. I would expect any margin between twenty and thirty percent was realistic when it comes to computer hardware. But I don’t know for sure. And, of course, every business tries to find the price that customers are willing to pay.

Just don’t forget that Apple already had to reassure analysts that they were flexible on pricing in the wake of poor sales. And don’t forget that they needed to reduce the iPhone’s price by a whopping $200 within the first three months of availability.

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At most, it will become the best cellphone for casual gamers, but the “hardcore” still would prefer a PSP, or a DS (depending on genre preferences) for their needs.

The whole iPhone fad and such is making people talk about it as if it was the one gadget to rule them all: PDA, Phone, Mobile Internet Browser, Digital Media Player, etc… But it’s not the best at all (or any) of them… It’s just has all of them in one package.

It’s not the best PDA, not the best phone and not the best audio player because of lack of essential features… As well, it will not be a gaming platform to be taken seriously imo.

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