Apple’s iPad and Murray’s Old Predictions

Well, the veil has been lifted on the Apple iPad and pundits are busy asking whether there is really such a need for a device in this particular “sub-notebook” niche—especially one at this particular price point.

And once again I shake my head; they just don’t get it… yet. To paraphrase Clinton: “It’s all about the UI, dummy.”

I actually blogged about this well over two years ago. Back when OS X Leopard was coming out (yes, I’m talking about “old” 10.5) there was the introduction of the “Core Animation” API that was the harbinger to things like the sleek iPhone UI and elements popping up on the desktop like the animated “Cover Flow” of iTunes or the Finder.

The iPad will usher in a small but steady revolution as small, intrepid programmers find ways to create very targeted, very specialized apps that make the iPad the perfect tool for business solutions. It will be the architect or interior designer who manages to make a lightweight CAD application that can be really portable, allowing floorplans to be quickly entered into the device while he or she walks through an old house; it will be the medical technician or the factory worker who finally has an application with a user interface that doesn’t force and endless stream of window clicking to enter a simple piece of data; it is the cashier or the maître d’ or the dance choreographer…

Anyway, I suggest anyone interested should actually read that old blog article I wrote in 2007. It still applies.

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8 thoughts on “Apple’s iPad and Murray’s Old Predictions

  1. Carole

    You’re right — the medical example came to my mind immediately as well. (This could really save the Red Cross from the Windows laptop hell that they currently suffer during blood drives.) Hell, even back in the Newton days archaeologists loved to use that thing in the trenches. Those people will now be some of the most enthusiastic iPad users.

    The bashing will go away once the .1 version comes out and there are more apps.

  2. Murray Todd Williams Post author

    You should see the people in my doctor’s office when I visit. I swear it takes them at least 20 “clicks” to get to a relevant screen. Entering routine information then takes a series of 3 or 4 clicks for each item of data. The “Windows” paradigm is a broken Golden Hammer implementation that does not belong in the “embedded” world.

    I’m still floored when I see an ATM or a cash register with the “close/minimize/maximize” buttons in the upper right corner, plus an unused vertical scrollbar zone.

    This is why iPhones look so much more like Star Trek TNG devices and Windows Mobile never did.

  3. David

    Hmmm…. Commenting from the iPhone seems a bit difficult, but I’ll give it my best.

    Actually, my biggest fear is that Apple does get it, and that the iPad will be a huge success. If that happens, we may later come to see it as the time when proprietary software stores and “big” DRM left the smartphone market and went mainstream. Right now, the iPad may not seem good enough to be a general purpose computer, but look at the trend. In the past ten years, laptops have replaced desktops as the computer-of-choice for the majority of home users, and many business users. How long will it be before a device like the iPad starts to seriously encroach on the laptop’s domain? Five years seems like an awfully high number.

    How will you feel if all the software you now write MUST be sold on the App store and must use Apple’s DRM? Call me an alarmist, but Apple is showing us in no uncertain terms just what direction they’d like to take computing, and it is clear that they intend to hold all the keys.

    By the way, do you remember Apple’s excuse for not putting Flash on the iPhone? Do you really believe that this still holds true for the iPad, as well? Or do you think that maybe — just maybe — they’re fucking lying to us?

    The 1984 ad is looking deliciously ironic!

    Okay, I’m done ranting now.

  4. Murray Todd Williams Post author

    David, your concern is definitely worth attention. I’ve been playing Devil’s Advocate in my own head, but I don’t know what side I’ve come down on.

    On one hand, I can see the Apple Store as analogous to a physical retail store. Walmart gets to have a lot more control over what they sell (They even dictate to the individual manufacturers what the packaging and color-scheme has to look like for their own products!) without letting the customer have say. In fact it’s a little bit the reverse: like Mattel mandating that no other company could make and sell clothes to fit on their Barbie dolls.

    What I’m saying is that we think of the computer/software world as completely different from other retail/manufacturing worlds and have grown up with a certain “hippie/hobbyist” mentality that bristles at the idea of Apple’s DRM control. And there is some good to come of a tight supervisory control over this stuff—less opportunity for viruses and malware, less real piracy, etc. And Apple has done a pretty good job with the Apple Store of making it possible for “the little guy” to build an app and make some money.

    As for Flash—personally I’m sick of the performance hit all those millions of little Flash ads take on my computer. I think Flash is just a little bit evil and am not missing it too much. (Plus, poor web site designers use it as a poor substitute for real web site design and violate all search and accessibility guidelines.

  5. David

    It’s not Flash that’s the issue — I don’t love it either. The problem is that, with increasing market dominance in the browser space, Apple can decide to kill Flash by making sure that new computers (e.g. Phones, Tablets, etc.) don’t support it. Apple can do this to Flash, and they can do it with anything else they happen to decide that they don’t like. As closed Apple products continue to flood the market place, Apple’s degree of control increases.

  6. Murray Todd Williams Post author

    I doubt even Apple can “kill” Flash, any more than they’ve “killed” Blu-Ray by not putting drives in their computers or compatibility in their DVD-mastering software!. But they can take Flash out of the running for “standards-compliant web pages”. But then again, Flash is an Adobe monopoly of its own. Yes, it has become ubiquitous enough to be considered a “standard”, but who are we kidding?

    And Flash is a Trojan Horse of sorts–an amalgamation of video and vector-based animation. The former should be broken out into standards-compliant delivery like is going on with HTML5 (already implemented by Safari and Firefox now) and the latter maybe should go down a path like SVG. I’m happy that Flash helped will “RealVideo” and that everyone, Flash included, is standardizing on the same video codices.

    Again, I’ll concede that Apple’s inherit muscle is worrisome, but they haven’t become truly Evil (yet).

  7. Murray Todd Williams Post author

    An interesting item in the news that reminded me of this conversation. Steve Jobs would appear to have it in for Flash. Although his reasons may be valid (CPU hog, unstable) he does certainly seem a bit brazen about it. (Or is that just the media depiction?)

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