iPad disappoints

Steve Jobs pours ridicule on netbooks, saying: “They’re slow, they have low quality displays … They’re not better at laptops than anything, they’re just cheaper”. Well I have news for him, after the launch of his iPad I think that my Acer Aspire One netbook is a better ownership proposition. Which is not what I was expecting.

So where have Apple gone wrong?:

  • Apple have a marketing strategy with iPod/iPhone of planned obsolescence, like Detroit carmakers in the 1950s and 1960s. The product line is updated regularly with features held back to make the next model more appealing. So many customers upgrade every year. This strategy is no longer valid because of Android. Apple need to maximise their benefits and features to stay ahead in the race. They haven’t done so and will be outperformed on price and specification by a myriad of competitors.
  • No OLED display, presumably this will be in next year’s model. Instead they have gone for IPS (In Plane Switching) LCD. This technology gives a wide viewing angle and good colours, however it switches very slowly producing motion blur which is not good for games. Also, compared with OLED, it uses a lot of electricity, resulting in a short battery life.
  • Not a proper competitor for Kindle. Amazon must be very happy today. The Kindle’s E Ink display technology is vastly more readable than any LCD. And Kindle will run for a week on a charge whilst the iPad only lasts 10 hours.
  • The iPad has no camera. What were Apple thinking about? This is an unbelievable omission which severely curtails the usefulness of the device.
  • Processing power. The iPad uses an ARM processor. The netbooks that Jobs derides can have ARM processors too. Or Intel’s rapidly developing Atom. So the iPad has no significant horsepower advantage.
  • No removable battery. This is naughty of Apple, these batteries have a finite life, so eventually need replacing. You have to send your machine back to Apple for this to be done. Which is costly and inconvenient. Also I have different sized batteries for my netbook for different situations and can change between them in seconds.
  • The name. iPad. This is already the butt of massive derision all over the net. I am sure that there are many excellent jokes to come. What were they thinking of?
  • No multitasking. My netbook will do this. This is a very significant weakness.
  • No Adobe Flash. Huge chunks of the internet run on Flash and iPad can’t see it. Presumably Apple do this to protect their App Store revenue. My netbook runs Flash.
  • No Skype. Another massive omission and, once again my netbook can do what the iPad can’t.
  • No USB or Firewire ports. Seriously. My netbook has three USB ports. Once again Apple are seriously limiting what their customers can do with their machine.
  • Storage capacity is limited to a maximum 64GB flash drive. When netbooks often have far bigger hard drives and as many USB memory sticks as the user wants.

Not looking good is it? So what has the iPad got going for it?:

  • Apple fanboys and Apple marketing. This is cult like. Lots of people will buy anything they stick the Apple logo on.
  • Fantastic user interface. Apple really do lead the world at this and have taken it several steps further with the iPad. This gives the device fantastic touch and feel.
  • Price. For once Apple have a realistic price structure. They need it with the competition this machine is going to have. But remember that an iPhone costs just $180 to manufacture and the iPad will cost a similar amount.
  • The App Store. 140,000 applications. On the iPad existing apps run in a small window or scaled, so there isn’t much advantage over an iPhone. But the huge catalogue still represents a huge amount of capabilities for the device. iPad specific applications will obviously benefit from using the bigger screen properly.
  • Money. Apple have enough cash in the bank to buy several small nations. They can throw this at the iPad project till it works.

My Acer Aspire One is still the better device for me and my requirements. It has a mechanical keyboard and a big enough hard drive, it runs Windows XP and Firefox customised for my needs. I can use nearly 30 years worth of heritage software including all the established industry standards. Apple have failed to come up with something that competes with such a netbook.


  1. The big issue as I see it is that Apple are trying too hard to create a user need where really there isn’t much of one. A device somewhere between a hand-held device for when I’m on the move and a laptop for when I’m in one place. Where is this place!?

    It’s a lovely bit of engineering, to be sure, and the interface looks luscious – but I just don’t need one.

    As for the name – well, bad press is still press. The Wii hasn’t seemed to suffer despite really taking the p*ss.

    Thanks for the superb blog! 🙂

  2. Looks like a big iPod to me.


    I expected such bullshittery.

    This’ll be great for those cultish fashionista’s that live in condo’s in large downtown urban centers.

    I like my Dell laptop that is also game capable. It’s a bit big but then again, so am I, so I have no trouble carrying it.

  3. With the old Apple II line, they had a very open ‘please put add-on card in me and modify me’ architecture and philosophy. With the Mac line and most other products since, Apple seemed to go with more of the black box philosophy. Things you mention like sealed batteries and limited expansion options (until you upgrade to the next model) have been their tendency unfortunately. Now, I am somewhat biased, we run a shop with PCs for the most part (wait a sec….Macs now have Intel processors and a BSD based OS, right?lol) but even with that, the only Apple based product in the last couple decades I’ve really liked was the iphone or the Touch. The planned obselesence annoys me, and the odd time I search the net for answers to an Apple problem, the answer I often get from the users are ‘why do you want to do that? just do it the way Apple says’

    They do have their place in the market though, and are making some decent money I assume. Just not my style. Thanks for the comparison Bruce, food for thought.

  4. I wasn’t expecting much from the tablet (apple hasn’t every really innovated, they’ve just polished things.) but it doesn’t look like they spent any time polishing. It’s like they ran out of ideas and thought, “Everyone wants a bigger iPhone.” It was rather disappointing. I’ll stick with the touchbook (from always innovating). It has an ARM processor, but still does flash and all that, so you get the nice battery life, and have a nice netbook. Since it runs linux, that’s great for what I do.

  5. Good article, Bruce. I have to agree. The iPad fails to address any real pressing needs right now. I love netbooks. I am so angry that I bought my laptop just before netbooks really went mainstream (at least, from my point of view). A netbook would serve my needs much better now.

    I am not really on the tablet bandwagon yet. I see what these companies are TRYING to accomplish, but it’s just not there yet. A computer with a keyboard and mouse are just more effective still.

  6. Agree on all #fail points.

    Would point out that it is not an ARM but a ‘1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip chip’ 🙂

    Would add:

    1 – not a ‘pad’ at all as you cannot write on it (appalling resolution of capacitive touch screens precludes this.

    2 – an £850 10″ sheet of glass is NOT something I want to carry about in a rucksack, take to college or carry with one hand. I’d estimate mean time between smashes at a few months (best), days at worst.

    3 – wrong OS. Should be running downscaled Snow Leopard, not half-assed single tasking phone OS scaled up

    4 – no SD slot, not even micro-SD slot? How am I getting my photos onto it?

    5 – no TV out? no HDMI out? WTF?

    6 – weighs quite a lot for a big phone

    Nope, while it is really pretty, and I love my MBP, iPods and the like, this is a #fail product. Park it alongside other Apple fails. They are allowed a few, and will still be forgiven, provided they learn from it.

  7. @davidjwbailey


    “The Apple A4 consists of an ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore, the same processor that powers the NVIDIA Tegra and Qualcomm Snapdragon. The graphics unit is a ARM Mali 50-Series. The key thing to note here is that this is all mostly ARM IP; Apple and P.A.Semi have little to do with it. Since Apple doesn’t have its own chip factory, this thing is produced by Samsung.”

  8. am reliably informed that apple brought up every 9 1/2 inch touch screen out of taiwan for this. have they just shot themselves in the foot re: all the “down” points ? .. i guess only time will tell

  9. So I dont get why you would buy this since you can just buy an iPhone. Whats the point of this again? What can it do?

    Highlights that you pointed out are user interface and an app store. Wasn’t that the point of the iPhone, all that power in your hand?

    I don’t know what the point of it is really. What does it give to me that I can’t already do?

  10. Thanks for putting in the thing about planned obsolescence. Seems like few people are man enough to admit that you shouldn’t buy this and wait for its complete successor.

    I also agree with the posters above me… this does seem just like an oversized iPhone. I’ll stick with my iTouch and MacBook Pro.

  11. Apple rush to try and be the first to market and leave out several key features. If you’re looking for a tablet device wait for the HP Slate or one of the Android powered tablets

  12. The hp slate laptop looks far better then the ipad.

  13. Whilst I’ve never owned any Apple products due to the fact that I like building and maintaining my own PC and I prefer WinMo or Nokia products, I think Ipad will be a hit for Apple.

    There’s a large group of people who simply want a aesthetically pleasing device that works, straight away and every time and is p*ss easy to use. As far as I can tell this group of people is larger than even mildly technically capable people (using only my perception and anecdotal evidence).

    Apple have a recent history of taking existing devices, “beautifying” and simplifying them them, adding pervasive and slick marketing campaigns and having runaway successes.

    You could have leveled the argument of “we don’t need another mobile phone” or mp3 player when the iPhone and iPod were released but that really misses the point: the “average” consumer wants something that’s, as I pointed out, easy to use everytime and looks good – they don’t care if it’s missing features or slower than other products.

    Judging by previous, similar reactions to the release of iPod and iPhone within the “technically aware” community (IE. they were going to fail) I’d say the iPad has a large chance of success as the geek community completely misses the point of what Apple consumers see in a device.

    Apple have done a great job of placing themselves between the ordinary consumer and content and charging nickel and dimes for. Every. Single. Thing. You. Do. – but it works simply and it looks good – and for people that don’t know otherwise it’s very attractive.

    Also you just watch: just like the iPhone and ipod within 2 years Apple will have released 5 different version, each successively with more features like camera, multi-tasking (lol) and many geeks that are poo-pooing it now will buy one anyway if previous history is any guide.

  14. Apple knows what they’re doing. Sales will boom once consumers get comfortable with the product. We should expect lower demand than the iPod, though.

  15. I like the blog, but could not find how to subscribe to receive the ipad updates by email. Can you please let me know?

  16. i totaly agree! i mean the i pad is sooo rubbidh its just a giant i pod touch! what is the point??!!

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