Apple’s trojan horse is the “computer as appliance”. They’ve managed to create devices that are almost as wide in scope and functionality as general computing devices but are easily accessible to non-technical people. And, more importantly, don’t need technical maintenance or an understanding of the computing underpinnings.
If it were just the App store, then all of the new stores that other vendors have created would have propelled their devices off the shelves.
If the iPad succeeds, it’s because its an idiot-proof appliance. And Apple isn’t unique in knowing this. Nobody has to setup their Kindle’s file system. Or figure out where that book they downloaded went.
Do you want to know how the unreleased iPad works? It works just like the iPhone. It’s the exact same operating system. It’s 90% of the same UI. What are the major technical differences?
- It’s much faster.
- The OS now allows files to be exchanged both between iPad applications and with computers.
- It supports hardware bluetooth keyboards and custom on-screen touch keyboards.
- It has new UI elements that take advantage of a bigger screen.
- It supports external displays, aka the projector.
- And, lastly, it has a big, bright, sharp screen.
Thanks to the screen size and the CPU speed, the apps are going to be larger in scope. There are apps for editing Microsoft Office files on the iPhone but no one uses them for more then display and minor touch-up. The screen is too small, the device is too slow and it’s too hard getting documents in and out. The last two points will likely evaporate with the next iPhone refresh. But the first one never will.
But, at launch, Apple showed a mobile edition of iWork. With a well thought-out gesture interface. And, an application for drawing on the iPhone was reworked for large-scale drawing on the iPad. You can run a sizable portion of Photoshop on the iPad. And it makes sense to do it. And, Mac software makers who weren’t considering the iPhone are now announcing iPad plans. Omni Group, who makes the Mac’s equivalent of Visio, are halting existing development to create iPad versions of their applications.
Why all this trouble? Why not create a tablet running standard macOS instead of iPhone OS? After all, you could create an App Store for macOS apps. 90% of Mac software doesn’t even require an installer. Again, it’s because Apple is moving toward computing appliances. Which means locked-down devices with restricted technical underpinnings. And macOS is wide open. It has a standard filesystem. It has drivers. It has software that can get into the guts of the OS and need to be wiped to clear it out. And for a consumer device you don’t ever want to worry about, that’s not good enough.
The other vendors know it too. Asus, the largest computer company in the world, announced they aren’t going to make a tablet. Why? Because they said Windows 7 can’t compete with the iPhone OS on a tablet device. And there’s no way that mobile Windows can either. And Android isn’t close enough yet.
If Apple is right, and this is a market that’s been going either unserved or underserved by netbooks, then stand to make a killing.