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

1/27/10Follow @gthuang

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it’s not as portable. It will, proportionately, spend more time connected to a Wi-Fi network than a cellular network, given how it will be used. I’m pleased there’s a lower entry point for data use—although it doesn’t take much to blow through 250 MB on such as multimedia-centric device.

[Regarding the threat to Amazon:] This is a year when content distribution and business models are being reshaped. Add Amazon to the tectonic battle already taking place between Google and Apple.

Mike McSherry, CEO, Swype, Seattle (the company makes text-input software for mobile devices):

We’re excited that Apple launched the iPad….it’s just further demonstrating how powerful and pervasive touchscreen interfaces are becoming. We believe we have a much better text input solution than existing touchscreen tap methods and a number of OEM partners will be introducing Swype on a variety of device platforms in the coming months. We obviously haven’t played with the iPad keyboard but we believe Swype would be a fantastic component on future versions of the iPad. Thus far, Apple has not allowed 3rd party developers to replace the default Apple virtual keyboard so we have been focusing on other OS platforms and OEM partners.

Greg Raiz, founder and CEO, Raizlabs, Brookline, MA:

We’re excited, and we’re still kind of soaking in the details. How existing [iPhone] apps will be moved over is particularly interesting to us…It sounds like they will run either centered in the screen or they double the width and height, essentially stretching the app out. That’s not perfect, but for some of the apps that may not have a chance to be ported over to support the iPad. It just gives them a much larger app library right out of the gate.

I think that app developers will be quick to add tablet support, especially for the apps that make the most sense, meaning apps that are very content-rich and content-heavy. Some of they apps that they demonstrated, like the New York Times—very media-centric apps—make a lot of sense in a larger format. I suspect those will be the first to get ported over. Also data-entry apps, things like that, where you may have workers walking around taking down information will be quick to be ported over. They showed some demos of artistic applications where you are drawing directly on the screen—those also make a lot of sense. Some of that apps that were truly designed for phones may make less sense as they get ported over. So I think you are going to see a new class of apps specifically for tablets.

We were all surprised by the price point. They are definitely going hard after the Kindle and that class of tablet, with the Web browsing and the applications, including some of the more powerful desktop apps.

It’s an interesting in-between product, and we definitely going to get a couple of these in the office and see what we can do with it. In many ways, it makes me think more of a big iPod Touch than an iPhone. The GPS functionality didn’t seem to be on there, the camera. I’m not sure this device is going to be as big as the iPhone. That’s my personal take. The iPhone was a replacement for your existing phone, and the phones that everybody had were terrible. This isn’t replacing something that everybody has. This is a new class of device. They’re still going to be very successful, but I would be hesitant to say that its success will be as big.

We were kind of surprised that there was no camera, front or back. Four of the people in our office thought there would be a Skype-style camera facing the user. But it sounds like it’s not a video-conferencing-style device, which was a little surprising.

I think the Internet connectivity is really interesting, because it allows you to buy 3G carrier connectivity on an as-needed basis. If you want one month of Internet for $20 you can do that instead of buying the hotel Wi-Fi, for example. I was surprised that Verizon wasn’t named as a partner—maybe they’re still working on that.

Wade Roush contributed to the reporting of this article.

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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