HP recently posted the video below on their Voodoo Blog. To me, the video shows several things.
First and foremost, the video highlights the ubiquity of Flash on the web. As far as I know, Apple still has no plans to support Flash on iPad. I’ve always heard that this was due to bugginess in Flash, as well as Flash’s cost in battery life. On the Mac, battery life is less of an issue, and the Flash code is isolated from the main browser code. If Flash crashes, the browser notifies you of the crash and then restarts Flash. Apparently, either this is not possible in the iPhone OS browser, or the battery cost of Flash is just too great. The video points out that tablets like HP’s Slate are based on Windows 7 and get Flash support by default as part of the overall Windows 7 experience.
The video also highlights the basic differences between Apple and Windows 7 vendors like HP and Dell in their approach to the tablet market. As they did with smart phones, Microsoft’s partners are working with a scaled down version of the desktop operating system. A process or application you run on your desktop has at least a chance of working on the tablet. Certainly, the browser experience will be nearly identical. Apple’s core approach is different, as different as the toolboxes offered by Mac OS X and iPhone OS. The SDKs for both are quite similar, but there are a vast sea of differences. Clearly, there’s no simple way to port an application from one platform to the other.
The video also shows off the HP device, gives it a real chance to shine. And, in my opinion, this is where Apple really comes out ahead. HP’s Slate is thick and chunky. The iPad is graceful, subtle, elegant. And thin.
All that said, I think this is going to be a very interesting new phase in the evolution of computing. Will Apple force Flash to change or, perhaps, open the door so a Flash competitor can enter the market? Or will the ubiquity of Flash eventually force Apple to allow Flash to play under iPhone OS. Interesting, interesting times!
Yesterday was a huge day. Tons of activity, conversations with friends and colleagues about the iPad. SO much discussion. There are definitely flaws in the design. This post captures the biggest of them, I think:
But though this post does point out a number of things that Apple could improve on (and I suspect they will, over time), bottom line, I think the post misses the bigger picture. Apple has created something new and incredibly useful. Right out of the gate, I can see two markets where the iPad can really shine.
The most obvious of these is the eBook market. Great for me, the avid reader, great for me, the writer, great for Apple’s shareholders. Though I am a big fan of the Kindle (do almost all my reading on one), the iPad definitely makes my Kindle look old and dingy. There has been an explosion of eBook readers over the past year, and the iPad just leaps over all of them, much as the iPhone did over its smartphone competitors. And books are typically more expensive than CDs (those round shiny things from the old days), so more revenue for Apple, less dead trees. And as an author, Apple gives me a much more efficient path to the marketplace. Win, Win, Win.
The less obvious, but no less important marketplace for the iPad is in health care. The iPad has an important role to play, putting the latest patient data in the hands of their doctors and nurses, ensuring that a patient’s history and current drug regimen is front and center. The iPad can add intelligence and rigor to that process, ensuring that a doctor doesn’t forget about a particularly subtle condition noted several years ago, or about a newly released drug interaction warning. This market is particularly underserved right now, and the iPad is stepping in at the perfect moment. The fact that it shares an OS with the iPhone and iPod touch means a wide range of choices for health care professionals.
There are many markets where the iPad will change the status quo. To me, focusing on perceived shortcomings of a device that has not even arrived is incredibly short-sighted. The iPad is a leap forward, no doubt in my mind. And I can’t wait to get my hands on one.