Went though a draft of this in my head as a funny Q&A with myself — 19 questions asking if I’d need the newly announced device to help me get existing work done better or if I could expect to jump in tomorrow helping clients create content for a newly introduced publishing model all answered with a simple “NO”. Followed by question 20 “will I still preorder it?” answered with a “Probably”. What I realized as I typed it up was that it all came down to work value vs. consumer value. As someone who is a somewhat recent iPhone owner and a long time Apple laptop user there was no solid work value I could find in this new type of 3G computing device but there is still plenty of consumer value as a consolidation and update of devices we’ve seen before.
Falls flat on my “Work Use” criteria
I’m a web developer working with middle to large size development and design teams. I’m not a middle manager or department lead, I don’t do a ton of presentations to clients and as a freelancer don’t attend daily conference room based meetings. I used the iPhone features I already have to stay connected while on the go, and when I need more then email, web and online tools I need a lot more and need to carry the laptop. Text editing, source control, multiple web browser installs and extensions, fully featured Photoshop are where my bread is buttered and a device that grew up from the iPhone instead of down from the laptop [like the MacBook Air] just will always fall short there.
As a photographer shooting purely for fun this doesn’t really help me for the same reason. I wouldn’t be using it for sales, but photo management and editing. Until there are more 3rd party apps that follow the new iWork or iPhoto model we saw demo’d today [I’m looking at you Adobe — bring me iPad Lightroom or Bridge] this just doesn’t do enough. The first thing I’d want to do with this is sit down with a cup of coffee or a beer after a shoot and get a head start on my workflow by integrating with my existing library, tagging and rating that turns 300 photos into 10 or 20 I want to process further. Slideshows are great if I’m meeting with clients, but the iPhone is “good enough” for for me on the go and I don’t have cause to carry this /just/ to show some photos off.
If your work involves communication more then or as much as content creation this may very well be a great device in the workplace, but for me, until it becomes something more or something I’m helping clients create content for it [more smaller publishing outlets in the future?] it just doesn’t help me out.
Still a great consumer device
Take “getting work done” out of the equation and what are you left with? A device for consumption of media by consumers. So what’s the iPad offer to that market?
A full color eBook reader that matches the Kindle DX in size, and (may) do a better job with the PDFs I randomly pick up here or there [like David Duchemin’s Craft & Vision series for photographers]. The market already puts a value on this type of device at $489.
A WiFi enabled photo frame when not in use. Though prices have come down in the last year or so, good size & quality screens w/ wifi updating will still run you $200-$300+.
A nice extra screen for watching video, video podcasts, or other content throughout the day, freeing some existing monitor space or making me more mobile around the house [someone get netflix or hulu running on this thing and you really get me charged here]. Thus removing any desire for another monitor or a netbook I may have had.
Add a few favorite games or [another] device running iTunes remote to control my music from one room to another to polish it off and you have something I can really see myself using around the house and for a price that can fit an established marketplace and a tech geeks budget.
Desire fits the pricing model
At the end of this day of lots of news, commentary and discussions I’m left with the following conclusion — at the entry point of $499 for the 16GB WiFi only model there’s a LOT to like about it and I see a good market for it [stealing sales from Kindle DX and Apple’s own iPod Touch]. At $829 + $30/month for the 64GB model with unlimited 3G data usage it just doesn’t do enough to carve out a new space between an iPhone and a laptop + wireless card for many people to justify the cost & it becomes a niche device like other existing tablets [or even the MacBook Air].
We didn’t get a magical new device made from unicorns and rainbows today. It isn’t going to change the way I work. Won’t [yet] change the publishing industry. But that’s all ok. What I do see is a solid offering by Apple and a solid start for a new device type at a good entry price point. And for the much smaller % of people that will find use in the 3G features or iWork & email on the go they can get all that, too.