Thursday, January 28, 2010

The iPad

It's called an iPad and "iTampons" is trending on twitter right now. Looks like an enlarged iPod touch.

Important things to note:

* It does not have an USB port or any other port other its own, which means you need to buy an _adapter_ to connect a USB device.

* Priced at $499 for the basest model which comes without 3G. With 3G, it is $630 and remember, this is AT&T. What this means is that you do not have the option to use a different service provider. For the two weeks that I have been on the AT&T network, I can tell you that it is, without a doubt, the _worst_ network I have seen anywhere. Forget about taking calls indoors anywhere. You want any voice clarity, you have to go outside! Of course, this is voice data and not 3G but I would assume that it would be just as bad. And what about other countries? So, if I take it back to India, the only way I can use the internet is to connect to a wifi network? No way I can use my USB modem? Will my USB modem even work if I buy the USB adapter and connect it to the iPad via that? I would doubt it. For $630, you can get yourselves a really good, powerful laptop that will allow you to do lots more than the iPad ever will.

* Still no flash. So, basically, if you want to watch videos online, it is either youtube or vimeo or any other html5 compliant website. No Daily Show for me. :(
Importantly, you cannot play any free flash games, ie, no FarmVille. :(

* What about battery life? Apple products have some of the worst battery life in any electronics. There is no reason why they should have such a pathetic battery life but they do and for some reason people forget that for a mobile device to be truly mobile, you shouldn't have to carry your charger every where you go.

* Lots of comparisons with Kindle. With the Kindle DX selling at $489, it was inevitable. But remember the DX comes with 3G support! So, it is competing with the iPad that is at $630! The Kindle is definitely overpriced but that will change very soon. I do not think they can sustain that price with the iPad deceptively marketing itself as something priced close to it. Kindle DX's battery life is supposed to be a week, which is impressive. Of course, Kindle is an e-book reader and is designed to be so whereas the iPad looks like it is designed to be.. actually, I have no clue as to what it is designed to be.

As a compulsive email checker on my mobile phone, I know how useful it is to have a device that allows you to surf the net but touchscreen devices are always limited and if you want to something which will involve a little bit of typing, a touchscreen device is a pain in the ass. There is no way you can type on a touchscreen as fast as a physical keyboard. Also, there is no way you can _type_ in a moving vehicle. Even a phone with a numberpad and predictive text is better for typing while in a vehicle than a touchscreen! So, yes, I am not convinced that the iPad is really worth the money. I believe a nice netbook, which is priced around $300, will do the job and much more than an iPad.

Nothing revolutionary, IMO. Just an overpriced toy.

Full disclosure: I own an iPod, which I think is a very good music player and a portable hard disk. I used a MacBook for over an year and would prefer it to a Windows laptop anyday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Marketing

Marketing, I think, is a tricky business. Advertisements have been a standard approach to the problem of notifying potential customers about a product but over time, consumers tend to play down hype created by the ad and stop believing the claims that the ad might make about the product. Some products are needed and consumed by almost everyone, like soaps but quite a lot of technology products are not necessary and the job of the marketing folks is to get people to buy something they may not need. For example, who the hell needs an overpriced phone that looks 'beautiful'? All I want is something that I can use to call and check email on occasionally. Admittedly, the iPhone has brought better user experience to the mobile phone users and has made other phone companies sit up and fix their stupid phone softwares, but one cannot argue that paying 600 dollars for a phone is a little outrageous, unless it has superpowers.

Now, Apple is coming up with a new device. It is top secret and nobody is supposed to know about but of course, everybody seems to know that it is coming and that it is going to be a tablet PC. Quite frankly, the idea of a tablet PC is somehow beyond me. Even if it is an amazing computer, the ergonomics of the device (ie, being a touch screen device) will make it very hard to use (people are going to start going to the doctor because now they have tendinitis in their neck!). Of course, one can hope that Apple will make a revolutionary product that will actually be kind on your splenius but given the nature of the idea of netbooks itself, I would doubt that it would be possible.

So here is a product that is going to be pain in the neck, big enough to make it impossible to carry around in your pocket and will probably burn a hole in it too and how the hell do you market it?

Simple. You leak a story that Steve Jobs thinks it is the best thing after sliced bread! And one can expect all the Steve Jobs fanboys (and girls) will rush to get that overpriced slab of touchscreen goodness and help make Jobs richer than he already is. I am sure that the netbooks will disappear in a year or two and Jobs will be searching for the next shitty piece of overpriced junk to offload onto the masses. It is forseeable that one day Steve will find a market for a product that he produces everyday in his own house and call it iShit.

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