Why the Apple iPad Will Fail

Edit: Cool, looks like my blog got posted to from some hack blog called “PCWorld.” I will note that while it is easy to make dumb predictions about the future, it is even easier to go back and look at the incorrect ones. If everyone made accurate predictions about the iPhone, it would’ve existed before Apple invented it. Please keep the comments section nice, or I might pull an Engadget. My mom reads this, you know!

Once upon a time, I made a post about how the iPhone was going to fail. I did it mostly for lulz and also to try and get on the front page of Digg. Seriously, that post was diggbait! That was back when people still went to Digg and people still tried to get on the main page of Digg. The interesting thing is that post got a lot more commentary than other technology posts I made before and since then.

Today, I feel the urge to write a post about how the iPad thing will fail. This time, I actually mean it.

In essence, the iPad is just a giant iPhone with no camera, no microphone and no phone. What it gains in screen size it loses in a lot of core functionality. It doesn’t even really bother me so much that they took out important features. It’s what they left in.

The iPad works on the iPhone OS. This could be a good idea, except that they really didn’t consider that making a device four times bigger might introduce some design considerations. The iPad is quite literally a giant iPhone. Most iPhone games, etc (at least, those not requiring a mic or camera) are supposed to work on it. But when you think about it, what games using the accelerometer will actually work out of the box when you’re dealing with something 1.5 pounds heavy and clunkier than a handheld device? Shaking a tablet is different from shaking a small phone.

I’m not sure if the designers were just lazy or if they didn’t care at all about the new scale. The mail app looks like it was hacked into the iPad. It should look like it was designed for the thing, but for some reason we still have the really thin column and a bunch of whitespace. WTF?

I suppose that Apple needed to release the thing and do it with an unpolished product. Some apps look well designed, like the iBooks one (clever naming convention there, Apple), but most look like they were just stretched to fit the larger resolution. A lot of companies could get away with this, but I think people expect more from Apple. If Apple wants to control the entire end user experience, they should take that responsibility with a burden.

My predictions:

  • Apple will get better at designing apps for the iPad. The best ones will come from them.
  • Most developer apps will look like crap on the iPad. A few will “get it.” Those ones will be successful.
  • Most developers will probably find developing (quality) apps too difficult on the damn thing, give up.
  • People will realize that they don’t want a computing device that only allows Apple-approved software on it. They’ll stick with the Macbook, which can do much more than an iPad and runs any third-party software, including Flash and Firefox.

54 thoughts on “Why the Apple iPad Will Fail

  1. It does have a microphone… and the ‘accelerometer’ is required more for rotating screen and less for games for “The ipad”

  2. I have a IBM tablet (61) with a stylus, I have had it for 3 years and I swear by it. I would not want device with less power. My primary uses are teaching in conjunction with a wireless LCD projector, and taking notes from meetings and classes.

    Features I love.
    MS OneNote
    Built in Keyboard. I don’t use the handwriting to text feature that often because I can type so much faster. It works well when I use it though.
    PDF annotator All my textbooks and teaching resources are in PDF and this allows my kids to see where they should be and allows me to write on top of it.

    Features I would like.
    Button to switch between being able to use the stylus and finger.

    It could shrink an inch or two. I have the 10.5 I think and I could do with 9

    Better control over the projector. I would like to have two desktops, side by side, shown on the projector, so my kids could see both, then I would be able to switch between them depending with one I want to write on.

    I have replaced the battery once, but I use it 6 hours a day about 250 days a year, so more than average use.

  3. If your predictions turn out really poorly, it is “diggbait” or cynicsm. If your predictions come true, it is because your are a genius and all-knowing soothsayer. Pulllease! Truth be told, you all just guess and hope for the best.

  4. Oh man, I was insulted on my blog by someone who goes by “Scooby doo” and another person who used an @aol.com email. I don’t know if I should be insulted or whether that’s a compliment!

  5. It will be a hit. The fact it is like an enlarged itouch is to it’s advantage. It was only on seeing the ipad did I realise why the iPhone OS is so good. It is to all intensive purposes invisabke to users. The is almost obvious for a phone but when applied to this information appliance – not a laptop – it is a stroke of genius.

    Users do not have worry about files, directories, file types, and all the baggage of desktop computing. The simplicity of the “invisable” OS means it will have a mass appeal. Techies will view it from the perspective of a sub standard laptop. But mainstream users will find a device which is simple intuative and one where the app UI is appropriate to the task. Not standardized by the dictates of desktop metaphors

  6. Lets revisit this post in 3 years… You will either say “It was just more diggbait” or “See, I told you so”… so what does it matter. You have no credibility whatsoever.

  7. “Most developers will probably find developing (quality) apps too difficult on the damn thing, give up.”

    – Wow, that is going to bite you in the ***. Do you really not have any faith in all the iPhone/Touch developers?

    “Oh man, I was insulted on my blog by someone who goes by “Scooby doo” and another person who used an @aol.com email. I don’t know if I should be insulted or whether that’s a compliment!”

    – How old are you?

    1. I think the developer thing is a good thing. Do you want the top apps for iPad to be “free pasties?”

      I’m 26 and a half.

  8. I disagree that it will “fail.” What is a failure? The AppleTV? The G4 Cube? The MBA? Do I think it will be a runaway hit like the iPhone? No. But, It’s the Apps. It’s all about the Apps. *If* we see more apps like iWork and NYTimes, then it could be successful. It took the iPhone a year before the App Store, so it may take a while fore devs to “get it.”

    Everyone compares it to a netbook/notebook, and it’s obviously NOT that. Apple makes the best (arguably) notebooks around. They KNOW how to do that, so if that (making it netbook-like) was their intention, it would be done. Why cannibalize notebook sales? I have a notebook; I don’t need that functionality duplicated.

    If developers get on-board, it will be huge.

    Here are a few thoughts:

    1) It doesn’t have a camera.

    My iPhone and my laptop have cameras. Who really video chats? For me, it’s more novelty.

    2) Flash is missing.

    Not on iPhone for the last 3 1/2 years. Big hit. Also, web is moving toward HTML5 and ditching flash. Even if it takes awhile, I’ll wait.

    3) No Multitasking.

    Here’s the thing. iPhone hasn’t had it for 3 years, and I’m okay. The other thing is that the iPad is currently running iPhone OS 3.2. Well, 3.xx doesn’t support multitasking, so IF they were going to add it (say for iPhone 4.0,) they wouldn’t want to jump the gun/spoil it for the 4th Gen iPhone. Either way, I’ll just be happy to listen to my iPod app and do whatever else.

    If Magazine Devs and ComicBook Devs get on board, I am so there.

  9. So, here’s the thing. All these blogs. All the pundits are hard-core geeks. I’m not bashing, I am one. Except for the Apple I, Apple has NEVER made products for true tech-heads. The genius is in keeping things as simple as possible for people who do not ‘get’ technology. There are A LOT more of them than there are of ‘us’. It has taken decades for Apple to get the message out that computers and other technology can be simpler, just as it took me decades to realize my time was worth way more than my ability to ‘tinker’ and otherwise screw around with more options than I needed. I am more productive and spend more time with my family (ugh) thanks to putting technology to work for me rather than the other way around. The iPad will be a hit, the iPad will add features, and Adobe will die in favor of HTML 5 within 5 years as web designers, always looking to reach the greatest audience, will abandon Flash.

    1. @Jon: I might agree with the “iPad is made for casual users” argument, except that I still see no ideal end-to-end scenario here. Old people still have to figure out how to set up their mail, their wifi, wireless bills, etc. Also, how do you get photos on the iPad? I’m assuming you’d need to use a Mac for that, in which case the old person still needs to have some proficiency there.

      1. “Also, how do you get photos on the iPad?”

        There is an optional USB/SD card reader peripheral available.

      2. @Hung: how do you get photos to the iPad? Well, to quote Apple: “There’s an app for that”. Maybe not yet, but its only a matter of time. I know techies who hate Apple, but have already decided to get one of these for their elderly parents. They plan on setting it up for them. They want the Android “gPad” for themselves, but Mom and Dad just need something that works.

  10. If the iPad fails for reasons other than you listed, you’re still wrong, correct?

    @Tunde – it’s “all intents and purposes”

    Just saying

  11. I disagree with the author’s statement because

    1. This is not a phone and will not be suitable for serving as phone we use on a daily basis. If it is to serve as a phone, what is the point of having the iPhone.

    2. The strength of this device is to serve as a ebook reader, news reader, future textbook alternative (electronic textbook), note taking device and a web browser where you can actually have a full size screen that can display the whole webpage and use your finger to navigate.

    Apple is trying to tap in the publishing industry like they did with the music industry. iPad is their device to accomplish this similar to what iPod did with music.

    1. “Apple is trying to tap in the publishing industry like they did with the music industry. iPad is their device to accomplish this similar to what iPod did with music.”

      I agree.

  12. I’m puzzled by the comments I see everywhere about putting photos on it. How do you put photos on an iPod Touch again?!?!? Oh yeah, you can sync with iTunes (PC or Mac). I don’t think that anyone is going to purchase an iPad as their only computer. I know plenty of ‘old people’ who have adopted iPhone and iPod Touches who can figure it out. Plus, when they have issues they can call AppleCare and talk with someone who 1) speaks english and 2) has product-specific training to help.

    1. Our Parents, (aka “old people”) have *us* to set up wireless and get them started. The difference is they “get” touch screens w/o the complications of folders and installing drivers.

  13. I am just as amazed as Amazed. You can’t fess up to you bad calls? The funny thing is that your original review was partially on target — some of the problems you brought up were problems and were fixed (cost, battery life, etc.). Some of the stuff you brought up was completely off the mark (uses osx, people don’t want to run apps on it). At the same time the advantages of the iphone were such that it was a monster hit. It created a new category.

    Just like the iPad. Success is only determined by customer acceptance, but you are barking up the same tree and making the same mistakes. Just like your critique of the iphone, you assume that people want to use mac or iphone apps on the ipad. Maybe short term, and certain apps will be just fine, but eventually you’ll have a new set of applications just for the ipad that will create a new category and people will use it for different things, like reading books, documents, watching TV etc. Your main question about ipad use is “what games using the accelerometer will actually work out of the box when you’re dealing with something 1.5 pounds heavy and clunkier than a handheld device? Shaking a tablet is different from shaking a small phone.”

    You assume that this is a giant phone?!? Can you distinguish between model cars and real automobiles? They are different things even if they look similar. You can’t see that the ipad is is a different beast from anything else out there?

    Other people have brought up limitations like lack of camera, no multitasking. Those are fair comments, and we know that all of that will eventually get fixed. But the stuff you bring up … oh man! I have never read your blog before but I can’t believe that someone like you actually tries to write about technology trends. Don’t get offended, but you don’t seem to have much of a sense. You should really spend time studying the evolution of IT of the past 40 years to get an appreciation of why products fail, succeed and evolve.

    Unless … is this just a way to get traffic to your blog?

  14. The above predictions assume that consumer behaviors is rock solid and don’t change.

    Looking back, however, iPhone and Android suggests that, given a product intuitive enough to be integrated into daily usage, consumers adapt to products that they never know that they need.

    Will iPad fail/succeed? I reserve my prediction. Take note that even if iPad is a conceptual fusion between an iPod Touch and a netbook (the so-called “iPod on steroid”), consumers will find a product that makes most sense to them. Market share will follow.

  15. A mobile easy to use, easy to access device that gives you access to an application or the internet. Not as clunky as a laptop or as small as a phone. Sign me up.

    Bigger screen = better apps. Think non-geek, electronic medical records for doctors, wait staff, event coordinators (reporters?) and sales reps.

    The iPad will change how people interact with software -> for good.

    My prediction, you’ll own one and blog about it in less than 12 months.


    1. I might own one. I’ll probably wait til the OS and apps reach a level of maturity that isn’t just “exploded iPhone/iPod Touch.”

  16. A lot of people wont buy it, but a lot will. The problem is that it is not going to be on verizon so it leaves millions of people that would buy not buying because ATT has no presence in their area. This is the same reason I do not have an Iphone. Living three miles east of Downtown Omaha Neb. I am no where near their 3 G network. Verizon covers almost all of the state of Iowa ATT almost nothing.

    1. I don’t think carrier will be a major factor in the purchase of an iPad. Most people will use it on WiFi anyway. It only comes into play if you travel, and only if you don’t have WiFi accessible. Plus it’s unlocked, so you’ll be able to use any GSM carrier.

  17. All these “will fail”/won’t fail talk is more or less a freelance publicity campaign for the iPad.

    When the iPad hits the market in few months, we will know for sure whether it all these sums up to be a revolutionary product or a revolutionary stunt, thanks to the year-round hype.

    Apple’s intention: the more [people] know about it, the better. Geez, even my grandpa began to talk about iPad a few days ago.

  18. I for one will be buying an iPad as an “accessory” for my quadcore and laptop.

    I can play with serious programs on my main machine, but when my wife wants to check her email and researech medical journals I will be able to lie on the couch, surf the web and play games on the iPad. When my daughters want to shop online or do social networking I will hand the iPad over and carry on undisturbed.

    I love my iPod touch and can’t wait to get my hands on a bigger one :). First thing in the morning I lie in bed with a cup of tea and check my favourite websites with it. The iPad will be ideal. My vaio laptop is too noisy and heavy, takes too long to boot up/log on and gets hot.

    The iPhone OS boots fast and is very responsive. Read the initial comments. It’s fast. To hell with cameras, multitasking and all the rest of the geekery. I don’t need it and I suspect hundreds out there won’t even know it’s missing……

  19. hung trung mung chung or whatever your name is, I got a question. What will you do if the iPad is great success? Will you hide under your couch and never wrongly blog again? Or will you continue to doubt any future Apple products? Keep in mind you are dissing a product that you haven’t even had the chance to use, and hasn’t even been out for a year. Apple has shown that this thing can run high-end applications…iWork anyone? Imagine the possibilities when developers take the full potential of this device, we might even see an the iLife suite in the future, and who knows, maybe even Microsoft office. A webcam will be added, multitasking will be added, as for flash? I certainly hope its not added, that is, unless you want your device to heat up to a million degrees and drain battery in less than an hour…and think about all the ads you can see with flash, sucks eh? I am not gonna buy one of these, I will wait for a 2nd generation with a webcam possibly, but that doesn’t mean other people will.

  20. This is my take. For the record, my experience with Apple only consists of my iPod nano and my iPhone. I know the iPad isn’t supposed to replace netbooks or laptops, (although Steve Jobs did specifically mention netbooks in his iPad presentation, Palaemon). I agree I can do without the camera, although I know several people who video chat. But multi-tasking and flash are needed. I don’t know why all of these fanboys are acting like it’s no big deal. Not having flash on the iphone is one thing, but the iPad is meant for media consumption. If 75% of web video is through flash, how can I can I have a true web experience on the iPad without it. HTML 5 is likely years away. “Even if it takes awhile, I’ll wait.” Well you’re not going to get a full web experience on the iPad for years. And multi-tasking is something we’ve become accustomed to. I can’t chat or listen to Pandora while surfing the web? Can’t I respond to an email without exiting my movie? I don’t think the iPad will fail, just saying that it has some major drawbacks, like when the iPhone didn’t send or receive picture messages, but that was an AT&T issue. I just don’t think it is as great and revolutionary as Jobs seems to think it.

    1. “And multi-tasking is something we’ve become accustomed to.”

      I don’t think you understand what multitasking is. People often shout “Multitasking” when they really mean “persistent state”. Persistent state means that when you switch between apps, you can continue where you left off. Just as if you never closed the app, when actually only one app in active in memory.
      The iPhone can do that (if the developer follows the programming guidelines) and the iPad can do that as well.

      Running a Background-process (so you can listen to Pandora) is something the iPhone, and probably the iPad, cannot do. Due to battery draining issues. But often developers think they need to run their App as a background-process when they actually just need “persistent state”.

      And sometimes other solutions are needed that allow developers to solve ‘Multitasking’ issues. Like the Push Notification Service.

      By the way, Pandora seems to be the *only* argument I see on the internet for Multitasking on the iPad/iPhone. Does anybody know another type of app that needs to run in the background?

  21. You were just kidding before, seriously? Dude, nobody is buying that. You were wrong then, and you’re wrong now.

    People will buy the iPad, it will happen. It’s very likely to follow similar trends as the iPhone. It’ll do reasonably well the first year, then by the time they release iPad v2 next year they’ll fix most of what is receiving criticism and it’ll go gang busters.

    There are still literally tons of consumers out there who want email, web surfing, music and video (etc) to work like their toaster. Instant on, press a button, don’t need to know about virus protections or browser plugins, etc. For that matter, if this thing had a USB port it could literally replace the primary computer for several of my older family members (Grandma only needs to email, web surf, see baby photos, etc). These people will like the iPad.

  22. And, you know this based upon what? Did you even watch the keynote, cause if you did, you’d never say such tripe that is obviously wrong.

    Clearly, you didn’t read the spec sheet or watch the keynote, since you don’t know there’s a mic. And, what important games use the camera on an iPhone?

    Uhm, do you know how light a 1.5pound 1/2 inch thick pad is? You think 1/2 inch is clunky?

    Dude, it’s clear now that you are just looking at images of the iPad, and didn’t watch the keynote, cause you’d never say what you did, if you had. You should state right up front that you are making your conclusions based upon the least bit of info.

    LOL, wow, are you serious!?!

    Dorks who want a computer will buy a computer. People who want an appliance that works, who used to buy netbooks, will consider an iPad.

  23. I feel like the problem with blogs like this is you say Fail. And you say it in the same way people who love/hate WoW talk about Fail when it comes to MMORPGS.

    The iPad wont fail. It wont be as big as the Iphone for the reasons you list, but it won’t fail. It’s not going to be another Cube. The iPad has a lot of problems, but they’re not the sort that make a failure. They just make for something that’s nice, but not perfect.

    Yes, the Ipad should be closer to a computer than a Smartphone. Yes, It needs a camera. Yes, the Iphone OS should’ve been strongly upgraded. Apple missed the boat on this one. But it’s not enough to make the iPad fail, it just enough to make sure they wont have the same sort of market saturation and dominance as they’ve had with the Ipod or are starting to have with the Iphone.

  24. The challenges of porting an iphone app to the ipad will be fundamentally outweighed by the greater design choices in making new apps. Eventually–and maybe very soon–new apps will outnumber the old apps, so this phenomenon will be even more substantial. Although I don’t want to predict how many enterprise or productivity apps will be killer, I can imagine that most genres of gaming will shine on what will be the ONLY touchable, mass produced, online platform.

  25. “McCracken’s Fourth Law of Apple Predictions states that the more definitive a dismissal of an Apple product is, the more likely that it’ll turn out to be ludicrously wrong.”

    Looks like you’re wrong again Truong.

  26. I totally agree with you Hung, I am an Apple Fanatic and I still don’t think the iPad is going to be a suceess

  27. I read your article after reading the PC World piece that linked me here, I thought I was coming to a reputable site consisting of well-written articles and content that could be considered valuable.

    Instead I find that you are a poor writer who doesn’t know how to present or support an argument. Please don’t write anymore.

    1. Personally, I thought it was hilarious that PC World deemed my personal blog post link-worthy. Probably says more about them than it does about me 🙂

  28. I hate that people are calling the iPad a tablet. It’s not a productivity tool; it’s an iKindle. A tablet is a productivity tool – it works as a new way for input and/or productivity, such as my Wacom Intuos3. Calling this… this THING a productivity tool is highly misleading (perhaps why it is called “Pad” instead of “tablet”) and it makes me a Sad Panda.

  29. So how do you feel about being completely wrong? I mean, cuz y’know, it sold OVER 500,000 WHEN RELEASED. Don’t mean to troll your blog, but how does that crow taste.

  30. You’re a professional comedian, right? The iPad is already a HUGE success. Among many things it has already changed the publishing industry. I can read magazines, newspapers, programming references, music notation, and comic books in a much more effective way than I ever could with my Amazon Kindle, or my laptop.

    Furthering the iPod’s success is the fact that Netflix has an app for it, and even Autodesk has SketchBook Pro, a feature-rich, high-end paint program for it that is a dream to use. Like it or not, the iPhone and iPad are serious gaming platforms that allow software developers new avenues of revenue, and consumers new pathways to entertainment.

    It took a device like the iPod, with its easy to use interface, readable display, and elegant design features to get traditional media publishers to rethink how they treat and deliver their products. We will all appreciate the interactive, media-rich experiences of the new eMagazines and eBooks that will emerge because of the iPad, and similar products that will soon follow.

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