Thu 15 Apr 2010
Fire! Brimstone! Hyperbole! An unpopular opinion! Apple is not really doomed. But they're in trouble. Yes, the iPad just came out, and the internet had a giant geistgasm. There's no denying, it's a sexy device.
Here's the problem – who wants it? Right now, Mac fanboys (and girls). Soon, a few others who will convert once it's on to v2 with some of the kinks ironed out, next OS version (multi-tasking!!), and the inevitable camera. Kids will love it. Ok, so that's kind of a crowd. Remember, people, this post is about hyperbole! God! You're all so dense!
So, Apple may expand its market a bit, and bring in a few converts who have a need that the iPad matches. But here's the problem. There are two reasons why Apple's introduction of the iPad is a big step backwards for the company:
- Apple has always been good at opening genres. They pick a niche – mobile music, smart phones, slates, and they knock v1.0 out of the park. That's what the Cupertino brand of perfectionism and attention to detail in user experience and hardware will get you. In the case of the iPad, they didn't just crack the door on a new genre, they kicked it wide open. And many, many, many others will come pouring through. Soon there will be lots of cheaper, faster, more feature-rich competitors that will run a wider variety of software. So some people will buy an iPad, but others will wait for the HP Slate, or whatever comes next. This was true for the iPhone too, but it took a *really* long time for anyone to rival the iPhone experience. But now we have Android, and soon we will have Windows 7 Phone. Whatever you think of those two OSs, take away the app. store (which is Apple's ace-in-the-hole), make this about devices and OS, and iPhone is not so clearly better. It won't take nearly as long for all the slates to make their way to market. Just a few months from now we'll see them hitting stores, and in a year we'll see what Apple has really gained.
- But here's the bigger issue. The ideological issue. Just like Kim Jong Il, Apple has a viciously tight ecosystem, built on secrecy, that has draconian and seemingly arbitrary policies that they enforce through code. Also like Kim Jong Il, they'll tell you it's all for your benefit, comrade user. It makes for a better experience, it allows Apple to make the perfect society… err, phone and keep it that way, free of the imperialist influences of free markets and free culture. That's all good and well, except… well, except that the biggest opportunity for the iPad to open a new market for Apple is in the education space, but those are the very people who will hate the North Korean strategy. Apple is locking out competitors and enforcing arbitrary limitations on free speech, and this is probably just the beginning. It's the Apple way, or the highway. Well, educators, educational activists, parents won't stand for that. Why would they? Oh, they could just join the enterprise developer program or what have you and circumvent Apple's process. But that will limit educational innovations to private, circumscribed groups. And why get involved with a company that might endanger your ability to teach what you want when you can get a cheaper, faster device that has none of those restrictions? Apple shot itself in the foot. It had a chance to release a groundbreaking device and capture a new market. But that chance is slipping away, further and further each time they do some crazy shit. Apple, you make me so crazy. If you'd only open your fist I would take your hand!!
Update: Wow! This post has generated some angry response (see below). A few responses:
- Note that the entire post is tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, which I admit and joke about in the very first sentences. Some people seem to have taken it very, very seriously!
- Yes, I compared Apple's policies to Kim Jong Il and Apple to North Korea (see #1). That's name calling. But while I said extreme things about Apple, many of these commenters are saying them about me. Guys, you don't know me. Control yourselves! I'm just a blogger than no one reads! Strange what the internet does sometimes. Grr! You criticize Apple! Me criticize YOU!
- Many folks seem to have missed the entire point of my post, which is: (1) the iPad will face serious competitors with equal or better hardware and OS much more quickly than they did with the iPhone, and (2) Apple had a chance to open a huge new market with the iPad, but is shooting itself in the foot with its draconian policies.
- Cool out, people. Writing these serious, angry diatribes makes you look a little silly, detracts from the good arguments you write.