Is iPad ahead of its Time?

In addition to my previous coverage of iPad vs. Netbook, here is another stat and opinion you may want to check out.  The new data is from consumer electronics company,  Retrevo, which looks like iPads might be putting a significant dent in netbook sales.

Frankly, with all the sexiness and awesome technology that iPad has,  I still think the device might be  a little bit a head of  its time.

There are two distinct markets for technology; professional and consumer. No doubt the technology behind iPad is a kick ass. However, the average consumer doesn’t actually need the best of everything to have a great experience – certainly not  in this economy

In the past, we all have experienced that we, the consumers ended up with more hardware and software than we needed, if we ventured towards pro-level pricing. Lately I’ve seen some traditional press and even us, the bloggers positioning that somehow iPad/Pods might take down anything that’s not a full fledged desktop , apparently unaware that iPhone OS and Android devices are limited software developed so for the limited hardware they’d run on. From this it’s clear they completely miss the diverse number of options related to computing power, platform, and OS that are all in the mobile space, spec for spec better than the iPad, which they don’t compete with anyway.

The iPad is ahead of its time because it acknowledges that the consumer market doesn’t need the best of everything to have a great experience, which is the reverse of the past decade where most sales pitches were about speed and features.

Here is the list of  what iPad is really good for:

1. It’s a great e-reader
2. It’s great for games
3. It’s a great couch-surfing device
4. It’s excellent for movies
5. It’s great for photographers
6. It will be great for restaurants and fancypants hotels
7. It’s fun for kids

What iPad is NOT good for:

1. It’s not a good bedside email companion
2. It’s not the best device for writing longer documents

Conclusion: iPad simply will makes our ass bigger. Check out my previous post on the link between iPad and Obesity.

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @

10 Responses to Is iPad ahead of its Time?

  1. Necessity or Luxury ?
    That’s an interesting question because if we look back at the recent history of tech. innovations, which have embedded themselves in our lives. Most of the started as luxury and ended up being necessities.
    First mobile phones in early 90s were hyper expensive and no one really saw one as a necessity. Look what we have 20 years later, kinder garden children have one and we could not imagine our lives without it. Yes, the iPad is not the first tablet, but do you really need to be first to actually make one right? I don’t think so.
    I think that Apple’s marketing is cleaver enough to change or signicantly alter consumer behavior and with 2nd or 3rd edition of the iPad, when it will have usb, multi-touch and all other necessities, it will be an equal replacement for a laptop.
    Especially for average business user, who just surfs, reads news, emails and communicates, iPad will be a necessity because it’s more practical and easier to use.
    Moreover, i think that clever multi-touch tech. will make it superior to laptop because it just feels more organic and natural, you feel less de-attached from the experience.
    Just to let you know, I don’t work for Apple and this is NOT a part of their cleaver social advertising. 🙂

    • Elias Shams says:

      Daumantas, You are sort of right, but not quite. I don’t think we can compare the early days of iPad with the early days of mobile phone. When Mobile phone came out, there was nothing in the market doing what mobile phone was capable of doing. However, everything iPad does can be done by other gadgets at home or work that we all might already have with a few tiny exceptions I listed at the end of my article.

      Therefore, given the tough economy that we are trying to survive, I don’t think iPad is a necessity

  2. Yes, its true that mobile phone was a greater leap then iPad in terms of technology. And yes the economic conditions are challenging, yet Apple seemed to be growing throughout the recession, and all because they were creating better, cooler, quirkier …. (many synonyms might be applied) products. The interesting point is that their products are priced with a significant premium. So maybe we are less limited by the actual recession than by our perceptions of it and at the end of the day our purchase decision is based less on price and more on intrinsic factors.

    From marketing point of view, I think that we could compare iPad with a mobile phone from one key point. The mobile phone was introduced before the actual necessity for it, meaning that companies like NOKIA created the necessity for us, and therefore changed the way we do things. Showed as faster world with less limitations.

    I think that similar situation may happen with the iPad. Creating desires and playing with customers egos I think is the power, which Apple as we have seen in the past are well equipped to utilise. Therefore, we should be talking about a psychological necessity as well as the technical one when considering the future of mobile devices and their impact on us, the consumers.

  3. I don’t view the iPad as a “must have”. That said, I have one. However, I bought mine largely as a development platform. My four year old loves it. I hear it’s great. lol

  4. Frank Grau says:

    There are people who still ride camels who don’t think toilet-paper is a must-have product, but innovation isn’t always about need. It’s often about finding a way to simply make life more convenient, more enjoyable, or may otherwise create a need that wasn’t formerly there and then fills it.
    The iPad does, in fact, do what desktops and even laptops can’t do, and that’s to provide the mobility of a mobile phone with the media-consumption experience of a laptop. Yes, it’s lacking a few things (Flash, etc.), but what it provides more than makes up for its shortcomings. It is, after all, a new device, and I know of no device, old or new, that doesn’t continue to be refined.
    For every “this device does nothing for me” critic, there are dozens of happy customers whose lives, whether personal or business, have been made that much easier because of the functions the iPad provides them. Such improvement to life or workflow isn’t merely illusory.

  5. Mark Garon says:

    I think the Ipad has huge potential in the music scene and on the music scene.
    We are marketing a new product called guitar Sidekick(tm) which allows you to place your iphone directly on a guitar’s headstock. Then you can access over 200 guitar apps from tuners, metronomes, recorders, send recordings via email, view scrolling tabs, access lyrics, view lessons from youtube, and the list goes on and on. soon you’ll be listening to your guitar teach and correct you. We are also working the Ipad in a similar fashion. I don’t like the phrase paradigm shift, but truly this is exactly what is happening. I can think of a few similar fields that can benefit. In fact pre-school children might be the biggest benefactors of this exciting technology since its a highly visual environment. Example, the controls can be designed as cats, dogs, or whatever. A little kid can’t type these words but can understand the meaning of ‘press on the cat’.

  6. Frank Grau says:

    Yeah, I agree with Mark. Critics are failing to notice that these devices are being used for far more than just media and business applications. I got a great guitar tuner/metronome/chord chart app, and it replaces all sorts of other books and devices that can now be discarded, saving space and centralizing equipment quite well.
    I also recently went to a film media conference, and some film-makers are using apps on the device to track by-the-minute weather so they know where and when they’re able to shoot, apps that also tell them the position of the sun to plan shooting schedules, apps that simulate the clapper-board production slate, and so forth.
    Simply put, the iPad not only fills gaps where a desktop and laptop fail, but they literally replace physical tools and hardware and services that can all exist on one simple device. Dang, if someone could figure out a way to stick wheel on it, you could probably use it to drive to work.

  7. Frank Grau says:

    The iPad is a “mobile” device, hence, one would assume one will, while mobile, lose all that weight gained after having been tethered to a desktop computer for the last twenty years.

  8. Good to hear that their are plenty of good uses for the iPad. Apple rocks.

  9. David Oliver says:

    iPad is not “ahead of its time” (as proven by 2 million sales in under 60 days). iPad is clearly a device people were waiting for and – unfortunately for vendors of “netbooks” – proved that other form-factors already in the space were insufficient.

    Those who focus on the hardware aspect of this are, I believe, missing the point ENTIRELY (even though iPad is great hardware). The point is that iPad puts far less junk between a user and his information/entertainment. And it handles not like a clunky PC but rather like a sleek and easy-to-manage iPhone.

    David is right – iPad is the new wave in media-consumption, web access, and personal applications. The bar has now been set very high. You can chose to wait for an Android alternative (only Android “gets it” in terms of limiting the role of the OS and platform in the device’s user experience) – or you can start enjoying a truly enriching experience today (for a price far less than a clunky laptop).

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