The Apple iPad’s Impact on Mobile, Gaming, and E-Books: Local Techies and Startups React

1/27/10Follow @gthuang

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computers work. We are about operating-system-as-a-service, about being extremely maintenance-free, about content, about synching. [The iPad] is more of a traditional device—an extension of the mobile platform, which we’ve seen, but at the end of the day it’s still local hardware, with local storage, and that’s not what we’re trying to accomplish.

[On the absence of an expected Apple announcement on January 27 about a cloud-based, streaming music service]: That sort of service is where we see our company going. A service like that would not only benefit Apple users but it would benefit Litl users, because everyone will be able to access their information from any device. That’s the world that Litl is moving toward. They had the opportunity to transition their operating system more toward that, but that’s not what they did…We’re actually relieved to see that Apple didn’t jump head first into the cloud. That’s where computers are going, and that’s where we are now. We’re going to use our head start to keep making our product better.

[On whether Apple's entry into the tablet market could enhance consumer awareness of devices sized between phones and laptops]: They’ve introduced this easel-like concept, and our take on that is that, with the Litl Webbook, we’re giving you a device that is fully functional in laptop mode and in easel mode. It’s purposely designed to be a no-compromises experience, with a full keyboard. They obviously approched it with a tablet, and it will be interesting to see how successful that is. But at the end of the day, I think there is definitely going to be more choice for consumers between a plain old laptop and a cell phone, and all of that is good. The Litl vision of computing can really be put on all sorts of different devices with different form factors.

Todd Hooper, founder and CEO of Napera Networks, Seattle, who used to work for Apple (in the mid-1990s, he worked for the retail channel in Australia):

I was sort of underwhelmed. Between my iPod, Sony Reader, and laptop, do I really have room for another device? Apple’s a great company, they make awesome stuff. But this could be another Apple TV.

I don’t see it as an e-book platform, because of that display and [relatively short] battery life. Though it might be an interesting platform for the New York Times or the New Yorker [for shorter reading durations].

I think it’s more interesting as a gaming platform. If I was Sony or Nintendo, I’d be really worried. It could suck away their high-end users.

Steve Hall, managing director, Vulcan Capital, Seattle:

[Hall, an avid iPhone user, told me last week that he would buy the iPad sight unseen; when I pinged him today, I asked if he would still buy it:] Without a doubt! Have been listening to the [Apple iPad] event over twit live….

Mark Lowenstein, principal, Mobile Ecosystem, Brookline, MA:

Mobile seems a bit of an afterthought [on the iPad]. I believe the full strategy is still being developed. Even more than the iPhone, the mobile operator’s role is mainly as a “pipe”, as it does not appear that AT&T will be distributing the device in its stores.

But the iPad is a mobile device more than a wireless device. People won’t carry it and use it in the same way as the iPhone, since … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • Michael Sigler

    If the 3G model also has the ability to text message in the AT&T data plan. I am willing to bet it will become a very useful product. Especially with Baby Boomers and the hearing impaired.

  • Mark

    I was underwhelmed by the presentation and what Apple offered. I’m a big Apple fan so I had pretty high expectations. I fully expect an update at the end of summer. I really was hoping for a couple of things that would have taken this device to another level.
    1) a front facing camera (and camera/video in the back). When I heard game-changer, I envisioned a front facing camera that would allow you to perform video chatting with iChat. More importantly, I was hoping for a front facing camera that could recognize your face and change the settings on the device for the individual that was using it. The technology is there. iPHOTO already has a sorting function that recognizes faces and sorts your pictures based on the faces in the picture. I know its a stretch but this was the game-changer I had in mind.
    2) On the software side, I was looking for more innovation with old school media. I think there is plenty of opportunity there. Let me give you an example. What I’m looking for is something to replace my subscriptions. One green way of doing this is to still have the weekly subscription. Call it MagCast (magazine casting similar to PodCast). I would pay a similar one year subscription fee (maybe cheaper based the media used) and every week I’d get a new SI in my MagCast iTunes that I could download. Here, I could read my new SI every week. Now, the device is a multimedia reader for the whole family.
    3) On the media front, I do think this device offers a different opportunity. Now I think there should be dedicated teams that write specific articles with integrated video with the articles for the subscription. For example, if SI writes an article about Lebron James. The writer could write a short free article. This article would be posted on the website. Now the iPAD article would be slightly longer (prolly a little different), and have embedded video feeds from YouTUBE within the article giving exact instances where the article is talking about. If writer mentions the Larry Bird 86 championship series, the article has embedded footage from that championship team. In this case, what you have done is taken an article that is similar to the website article but enhanced with length, and enhanced the integration of the media on multiple levels with the help of the internet (youtube, nba statistic sites, etc).

    …just some thoughts.

  • Mark

    Another thing I was just thinking about, you know how Apple has that little box (Windows has it too) where you put a symbol or something that designates you before you sign on. What if the box was empty and the way the facial recognition worked, is you had to position your face so that your face fit in the box. You would position the iPad, with the camera (similar to the RedLaser functionality with your iphone) on your face. It would scan and then put the settings on the iPad device like it was yours. Should prolly patent that idea if you could…

  • http://www.yg.com aion database

    I’m not quite sure if iPad is a game changer. First, I’m quite disappointed with its name! iBrowse would have been better? :) Second, there’s no camera and lastly, it has no ability to multi-task. It’s just like an iPod Touch for the elderly.

  • http://www.gaminggalaxy.com Gaming Galaxy

    This is really a magical and revolutionary product from Apple. I love this.

  • http://jadedconsumer.blogspot.com JadedConsumer

    Apple didn’t launch the iPad to kill some specific competitor, any more than it did when launching the iPod. Apple set out to do something better, and to grow the market for people who wanted to do that. The iPad announcement is Apple’s announcement that it intends to be the premium supplier of the “paper” of the post-digital world. Apple might also draw the air out of the lungs of competitors that thought they were safe selling portable junk at the $500 price point. Apple may be doing to mobile computing what it did to MP3 players: moving down the price range to take all the high-margin business, leaving no safe price zone in which to harbor competitors.

    Apple launched the iPad so there’d be a product that did what the iMac promised to do – make it easy to get online quickly – but for people who either want to relax in a position that makes computer desks and tray-tables unworkable (or want a cheaper portable device that doesn’t suck).

    The fact that Apple might sell iPad buyers content like books is sort of like the fact that iPod buyers might also buy music from Apple. Sure, it could happen – Apple will offer it to make sure users aren’t kept away due to incompatible file formats offered by a diverse array of content vendors – but the expected payoff for Apple is in the hardware.

    The iPad wasn’t made to go head-to-head with the Kindle, which is optimized for one single task, or against any particular competing product. It was made for people who would be interested in a versatile product that addresses a broader interest in the internet and mobile computing, and maybe offers a game-pad opportunity or traveling movie-viewer.

    Apple’s list of “i” devices has grown from the original iMac. Look at the original iMac launch event, and at what Apple claimed to be doing with the iMac. Apple isn’t trying to make money selling books any more than it tried to make money selling music – it set out to sell hardware, and the other stuff is a byproduct of efforts to keep customers from being driven away by incompatible file formats.

  • http://www.tabletbucks.com Jamie

    Totally agree that the iPad is a game changer. Couch surfing around the World is about to face a huge increase as the tablet device market continues to evolve and Apple, having the first to market of this kind of tablet device will be seen as the game changer, if nothing else.

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