I was really disappointed by Apple’s iPad announcement today. I used to think of Apple as a company that could get the hardware AND the software right with world changing products. The reality is that while they may be able to address some of this in future updates, they missed a prime opportunity to establish themselves as they de facto IP content provider to the living room.
My complaint really isn’t with the hardware specs of the iPad. The 10 hour battery life is a win, though I worry that in practice that battery life imposed 1/2″ thickness will be too bulky for some people to want to carry comfortably. If I have a big hardware issue its that by not including a camera they are missing a huge opportunity to encourage both video conferencing and augmented reality applications. It’s also still disappointing that the company that brought us Mac OS X can’t seem to address multi-tasking in a 64 GB device.
Where I think Apple could have completely changed the game and blown their sales numbers away was if they had included a new kind of media management and playback software.
Imagine a world where your primary starting point for media consumption a tablet like the iPad. This device has software to recognize the Mac Mini or Apple TV connected to the TVs in the house. It recognizes the iPhones that have been associated with it and are on the same wifi network. No image that instead of just reading a book or watching a video clip on the tablet you could, with a gesture, “flip” a video to start playing on the nearest TV. You could do the same with radio, podcasts or photo albums. Instead of having to configure devices via a 10 foot UI & 4 way remote (up/down/left/right) you could do it via gestures on the tablet.
Now imagine you could do that with any Apple iTunes movie rental, or purchased movie or TV show, or album.
Because of Apple’s position as a leading provider of digital media, both sales and rental, they are in a unique position to offer a “buy once, watch anywhere” media solution. The studios and record labels would like to see that happen, assuming the pricing can be worked out. Consumers want to see it happen. We’re tired of having to buy a favorite movie over and over just to get to see it whenever and wherever we want.
The right software on the Apple iPad could have created the central point around which Apple would have solidified it’s leadership in digital media services. However Apple (like Sony) isn’t a service company. They want to sell devices and they will sell thousands (if not millions) of the iPad as is.
They just won’t sell one to me. Yet.