iPad Fail. iBook Win.

So Apple has launched the mythical iPad / iTablet / iSlate to the world. It is officially called the iPad, and it will sell millions. And then be the most common device in second hand electronics stores when people realise it has no real application.

Apple had to pull something new out of the bag to make the iPad the same kind of success as the iPhone. What they have given us instead is 10″ iPod Touch. No new screen innovations, and no improved interface technology. It is too big to be a useful mobile device, not big or powerful enough to be a laptop replacement. If I buy an iPad I will still need an iPhone and a laptop. With both of those I do not need the iPad. The iPad’s luminescent screen and piddly 10 hour battery life make it no more effective as an eReader than a laptop. And the need to dock with a external keyboard for effective typing are simply an admission that Apple has not been able to get an effective touch screen interface to work better than a laptop. Is there a market for this device? Yes, but it is a relatively small niche audience looking for a pretty toy rather than the mass audience the iPhone caters to.

In contrast, the announcement of an iBook store is good if very overdue news. iTunes is the dominant, established marketplace for media, and I am certain book sales through it will be good news for writers and publishers alike. However, until Apple deliver a better reading device I think people will be more likely to read them on their iPhone than the new iPad.


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

10 thoughts on “iPad Fail. iBook Win.

  1. Strongly disagree. Perfect size, lightweight, and with the right apps is easily a laptop replacement — and kicks the crap out of now instantly archaic netbook market. And how many people read for 10 hours without being near a power source? And, not having actually typed on one, I’m curious about how you are certain that you can’t type effectively on it.

    But your point that there is only a niche market for this device is the biggest mistake. What college student will want to look like their doofy uncle carrying around a kludgy, ugly, heavy netbook/laptop when they can have one of these containing their textbooks, music, movies, and games for when they are bored in class? Students will tip this into ubiquity. Just wait.


    1. ‘With the right apps’ is the key phrase. This doesn’t have the power and the touch interface is not accurate enough for graphic design, video editing etc etc…not to mention this doesn’t have the connectivity. Even Apple aren’t claiming this as a laptop replacement.

      Battery life is an issue because this is a multi-function device. If I want to read a book on my communte home this won’t work if I’m been using it all day for computing tasks.

      Typing is implicit in the fact that apple have added an external keyboard, or why else would they? The touchscreen is okay for emails, but no one is going to type long documents on one. Too slow, too innaccurate. So you are left carring a screen AND a keyboard around. So basically, its a broken laptop.

      And the niche audience is simply an outcome of failing in the above areas. Yes, loads of trendy students will buy one, but that is exactly the niche audience I mean. Anyone serious will still need both a laptop and phone.

      But thanks for commenting. Time will tell which of us is right.


  2. In the promotional video they’re calling it a whole new kind of device. I am not sure if there is even a niche for it. Maybe the only person who would like to use it is the hand model in the video relaxing on his sofa with his knees up. If I had nothing else to do except sit around and admire photos of my beautiful children/nieces/nephews, I guess I’d buy one too. The first thing I thought when I saw it was that it would be a great target for opportunist muggers. I guess having it taken forcibly from your possession would be a simpler transaction than being mugged of your phone AND your laptop.

    But hey, I’m from South London and my mind turns easily to criminal matters.


  3. If you want to know what it feels like to be a 2-year old holding his mother’s iPhone while she roots for change, then this is the gadget for you.


  4. Brings to mind Trigger Happy TV. Hold this lump up to your ear and shout “Hellooo” in a crowded place.

    The only right app this piece of junk requires is a long wooden handle. Then Steve Jobs could use it as a paddle to get his canoe out of s@#t creek.

    As for the ipad replacing the netbook market, that’s just nonsense. You can’t write anything down with it. It is too large to be used as a phone, the screen’s backlit and annoying to read from, you can’t make a phone call with it. It is the Goldilocks device in reverse: everything about it is just not right.
    On the plus side, it might make a nice digital photo frame.


  5. All of the negativity about this device really puzzles me, particularly the criticisms of typing on the virtual keyboard *when not one of us has actually had the chance to put it to the test.* There is most definitely a niche — and a large one — for a device that allows basic computing, word processing, photo storage/sharing, movie watching, web browsing, and (the biggest plus) reading ebooks in what seems to be me to be the most aesthetically pleasing and “book-like” manner. I have an iPhone, and the utility of the apps I use is quite impressive. There are many instances where I lug along my MacBook but would rather have something more portable, but not quite as small as my iPhone. Laptops are overpowered for what many people use them for, and this device serves as a very capable machine for most people. Those who need to do graphics work or CPU-intensive work will always have the option of a laptop. But most of what I do is writing these days, and I’d happily fork over the change to tote this around instead of my laptop when I’m traveling.

    I recall all the naysayers who mocked Jobs’ decision not to put a floppy drive on the iMac. And those who said the iPhone keyboard was unusable. The stuff I’m hearing about the iPad is amusingly familiar. Fortunately, time will tell whether this is just a niche toy or the first wildly popular tablet computer. My bet is on the latter, so let’s check back in a couple of years :-)


  6. I’d have to agree. I don’t see this replacing either my laptop or my Kindle. Yes, it can do both, but not as effectively as either. Besides, given that I already own both a laptop and an eReader, I don’t need another device (right now). I’m probably not the best candidate, anyway–I don’t have any use for an iPhone, either.



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