The Apple iPad’s Impact on Mobile, Gaming, and E-Books: Local Techies and Startups React
[Updated 1/28/10, see below] The wait is over, but the endless mulling of the details and implications is just beginning. As Apple unveiled its long-rumored tablet device, the iPad, at a press event today in San Francisco, mobile industry insiders in Seattle, Boston, and elsewhere were watching closely. Which is exactly what you would expect, given Apple’s track record of disrupting industry after industry with previous iProducts like the iPod, iTunes, and the iPhone.
After all, long before Steve Jobs lifted the cloak of secrecy, the iPad was both feared and revered—feared because of the possibility that it will once again upend the way people consume digital content such as music, movies, TV shows, games, books, newspapers, and magazines, and revered because it could provide creators and distributors in each of these media with new ways to reach customers.
In case you’ve been offline all day, the iPad is basically a giant iPod Touch. It’s a 1.5-pound media device with a 9.7-inch LCD multitouch-sensitive screen and, according to Apple, up to 10 hours of battery life. It will have Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and will come in no fewer than six versions priced from $499 to $829, depending on whether you want 16 gigabytes, 32 gigabytes, or 64 gigabytes of flash memory, and whether you want 3G connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi. 3G data plans, available on a month-to-month (not contract) basis from AT&T, will cost $14.99 per month for up to 250 megabytes of data, and $29.99 per month for unlimited data. The Wi-Fi-only version of the iPad will be available in late March, and the 3G version will be available in April, according to Apple.
Those are the basics—but what will the device mean for consumers, entrepreneurs, application developers, and Apple’s competitors? To start the search for answers, Wade and I pinged a bunch of our favorite tech experts in Seattle and Boston, and below we’ve summarized their early reviews. So far we’ve gathered comments from Bill Baxter and Robbie Cape from Seattle-based Cozi (which makes family software for the home); John Chuang from Boston-based internet appliance maker Litl; Steve Hall, managing director of Seattle’s Vulcan Capital (Paul Allen’s investment firm); Todd Hooper, founder and CEO of Seattle-based Napera Networks; Mark Lowenstein of Brookline, MA-based wireless industry consultancy Mobile Ecosystem; Mike McSherry of Seattle-based Swype; and Greg Raiz, founder and CEO of Raizlabs, a mobile application development firm in Brookline that focuses on iPhone apps.
Our sources expressed a variety of opinions about the iPad, ranging from adulation to surprise to disappointment. One thing is certain: the device is kicking up serious dust in some very diverse consumer markets, including e-books, gaming, music, and video. That means it probably stands to gain much better traction than any tablet computer that has come before (sorry, Microsoft—though we know you have something in the works too).
Without further ado, here are our expert reactions:
Bill Baxter, chief technology officer, Cozi, Seattle:
The iPad is a game changer. The single-minded focus on enterprise was the mistake Microsoft made with Windows Mobile. It is the same mistake they made with the tablet PC. Now technology is such that iPad is a realistic possibility for consumers and nobody is positioned as well as Apple to make it happen.
The impact of this has already begun to ripple through the PC OEMs [original equipment manufacturers]. They are going to have to scramble to … Next Page »