iPad Hangover: Did Apple miss the mark?

iPad: An expensive newspaper or brilliant gadget?
iPad: An expensive newspaper or brilliant gadget?
iPad: An expensive newspaper or disruptive mobile device?

After I soaked in the Apple marketing juice—and it tastes so good—I’m feeling slightly underwhelmed the day after. The iPad announcement had all the trademark pomp and circumstance including live demos, flashy presentations and marketing magician himself Steve Jobs, holding court. But after all the veneer is torn away, we’re left with a somewhat expensive, over-sized iPod Touch with many important features missing needed to really deal a blow to the netbook market.

One thing is certain: Apple is moving in a big way into mobile.

Over and over we hear the battle cry, “mobile devices company.” That’s a smart move. Strategic imperative, really, since the market is moving to laptops, netbooks, smartphones. Desktops are starting to look like cathode ray tube televisions. Why use up all that office space when you can carry so much power in your hand?

However, the ultimate question is did Apple miss the mark with the iPad?

Only time will tell of course, but initial euphoria has let way to some fiercely negative criticism and complaints. And that’s unusual for groundbreaking Apple announcements. This type of backlash did not exist for the iPhone or the iPod. The difference though is the latter products did break new ground; changed the game, changed an industry. iPhone disrupted the mobile carrier market. And iPod forever transformed the music (and now movie, TV) industry.

iPad, well… so far, it’s the butt of a lot of jokes. And it’s positioning is confusing.

Watching a movie on it will be great. Reading the New York Times will be great. But, again, Apple is asking consumers to carry yet another device. It’s not a phone, and not a camera. So you’ll still need a smartphone. And since text input still requires a clumsy onscreen virtual keyboard, you’re not going to be able to use the iPad for serious productivity. Short messages, sure, but long emails, documents, and personal mission statements, no. Sorry Jerry Maguire.

I think Apple is missing a key innovation in text entry, and was fully expecting a big a-ha moment yesterday, but it never came.

Ultimately, while the iPad is sexy, it’s really lacking in depth. The specs are mundane: wi-fi, 3G, 9.7-inch screen, 10-hour battery life. Most netbooks today meet or exceed in all areas, at half the price. Heck, even my little Droid has a camera, GPS, wi-fi, bluetooth, keyboard, YouTube, and memory expansion. Plus I can make phone calls with it—using brilliant Google Voice—and even multi-task. Try listening to music while surfing or running multiple apps on iPad. Not possible. The device is running the iPhone OS, which inhibits a lot of its potential.

Then again, Apple does bring the whiz-bang factor: the user interface is second to none.

As much as I love Apple design (next to the iPad, the Kindle looks like a 1950s science fair project), I’m still not convinced that we’re all going to be dumping netbooks in favor of the iPad, just yet.

But I really want one.

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