When the first rumors of the iPad began circulating – I immediately dismissed them on the grounds it wasn’t clear to me how a tablet fit into Apple’s deliberately simple product line.
I’m still not convinced it does.
It could be argued there’s enough space between the iPod Touch and the Mac Book for another product – but it could be easily argued the $400 – $900 is actually a black hole for consumer electronics. Too costly to be considered disposable, too cheap to be elite.
Enter the Apple iPad.
Aimed squarely – if awkwardly – at that price point.
Awkwardly – because the iPad is, essentially a stretched iPod Touch. Or more accurately – a stretched iPhone without the phone part. With a higher price point of both. (There’s an interesting argument in thinking of the iPad as Apple TV version 3 – but that’s for a different post.)
In addition to awkwardly straddling a space between Apple’s product lines – the iPad’s currently announced feature set feels simultaneously too little and too much. The combination of the open Web and constrained App Store at the software level and free WiFi and subscription-fee AT&T at the hardware level continues to feel like a conflict of intention.
So I predict Apple will quickly extend the iPad family by this time in 2011:
- iPad iChat: webcam1, microphone, no AT&T – just WiFi, $699. This would finally fulfill The Future’s promise of portable video phones. Only WiFi because AT&T wouldn’t want to risk their 3G network stability. This would also be the Kitchen computing device – hang it on the wall, talk with extended family while making dinner, or voice control the playback of a NetFlix streaming movie, etc.
- iPad One: only App Store, no web browser, no WiFi – just AT&T, $399. Think of this as Simple Finder as a distinct device. The complexity and unknowns of the ‘raw’ internet completely removed.
“All this argument over whether the iPad is too simple — if anything it’s probably still too complex.” – John Gruber, Daring Fireball
1. According to CrunchGear, the current iPad already thinks it has a webcam anyway.
Like complaining about the lack of a display on the iPod Shuffle, or the lack of an FM tuner on the iPod, complaining that the first version of Apple TV is only 720p is a non-starter.
HD is not the point. Home movies aren’t yet shot in HD.
Simplifying the experience of getting internet video – youtube, video blog, etc – onto a television is the point. All the current offerings are awful. I’ve talked about this before.
Maybe HD will come later. Doesn’t matter. We need faster bandwidth, bigger hard drives, and better cameras to support HD delivered this way before then. Notice there’s no DVD drive on the Apple TV.
Apple TV does for television what Airport Express did for your home stereo. Extends iTunes. Just as Steve Rubel states:
“..although certainly exciting from a consumer POV, offers very little value for advertisers. The reason is that it’s basically a media extender.”
TiVo faired pretty well on the news, their stock inched up 0.2 points. Same with Palm (up 0.8). Compare that to RIMM – down 11 points). Yahoo has the graph
More later. Maybe.
In the comments, Michael Markman is right. There’s not specific tying Apple TV to YouTube (a really good thing). Any RSS feed sending audio or video to iTunes can be extended by Apple TV. Heck, drop the low-res Quicktime home movies to your iTunes library and Apple TV will send them to the big-ger screen.
Sure, the more purchases through the iTunes store, the more big media will be available in it. From a marketing perspective Apple wants to exchange our dollars for their DRM. There’s a whole bunch of video I’ve created that I want to send to the TV. Extending iTunes to my TV is the easiest way for me to do that.
“Apple TV won’t have the any kind of impact on TV advertising.”
Well, it’ll extend the impact Netflix and DVD players have had on TV advertising. In the words of Douglas Adams – “You’ve got to build bypasses.”
The ability for me to ‘subscribe’ only to specific shows and forgetting about the whole concept of a channel (which is essentially a hang over from broadcast) makes a damn site more sense to me.” – Karl Long
“Note that everything they are talking about is Big Machine Media, which I also have no intention of watching. I’m wanting to watch Strong Bad Emails and Ask a Ninja and Tiki Bar TV on the phone” – Dave Slusher
12 April 2007
“If you’re technically proficient enough to read this blog, AppleTV is not for you” – Dave Winer
30 May 2007
Beginning in mid-June, Apple TV will wirelessly stream videos directly from YouTube and play them on a userâ€™s widescreen TV. Using Apple TVâ€™s elegant interface and simple Apple Remote, viewers can easily browse, find and watch free videos from YouTube in the comfort of their living room.”
Note to Steve Jobs – the invoice for my consulting is in the mail 😉