Posts Tagged ‘innovation’



January 30, 2010

So the new iPad is out. As a lover of all things Mac, I was excited to see what Apple had come up with this time, especially from the various rumors I’ve been hearing about this new contraption. When I hear the word “tablet” being thrown around, I immediately think of the potential for design. I can draw, I can touch – it’ll be awesome. According to some recent reviews on Techcrunch, however, it seems the iPad is really not everything we came to expect of it, which, while sad, is not completely surprising.

We are living in a time where we expect the next big thing to be released every six months. As much as everyone likes to hate on Apple, it has developed a reputation for being on the cutting edge of new technology, and setting the standard for what is new and cool in the gadget world. Apple made the MP3 player awesome, and everyone wanted one. Then they made an MP3 player with video, and everyone wanted one. Then came the iPhone, and, again, everyone wanted one. With each step, they revolutionized the available technology. As a culture in love with new gadgets, new technology, and new stuff in general, we expect every new thing to be some huge breakthrough in technology that we will have to challenge ourselves to learn to use (the iPhone was not exactly the most familiar toy to a generation of phone users that were just adapting to qwerty keyboards instead of number pads). So it’s no surprise that everyone seems to be so dissatisfied with the iPad. It’s nothing truly new, it’s old formats redesigned and put in a different case. Whatever the iPad may be able to do that an iphone can’t, a laptop can. So why is this thing so revolutionary? What’s the big deal? Clearly, the functions of this thing are so simple that the Peewee’s Playhouse gang can out-perform it (really, click the link, it’s a good laugh).

The reviews of the iPad seem to be an example of how today’s tech-thirsty consumers can miss the forest for the trees. Let’s take a step back, and look at the design of this thing. It’s all the functionality of a hand-held smart phone, minus the calling ability, packed into a 10 inch, .5 inch thick, “laptop”. You can type on it like you would a normal laptop, you can actually read web pages in the way they are designed to be viewed, you can read books, you can play and store music, you have an app store full of possibilities for this thing. And if there can be apps, there will be innovations.

This may be my Mac bias showing, but I think what we’re seeing here is a new format of laptop that is also designed to operate like a smart phone. This is the first generation of computers of this sort, so of course, it’s not going to be perfect. Let’s face it, the first laptops sucked. They’re incomparable to anything we have now. So why not consider the potential packed into this tiny new toy. We could make it bigger, and have interactive touch screens, half an inch thick, integrated into TV technology, that also function as computers. We could have smaller laptops that don’t suffer the software limitations placed on the current netbooks. I really do think there are endless possibilities here, they just haven’t been developed yet, and that might partly be our fault.

The public cries for the next big thing in technology. We want something that lets us do everything we want to do, but currently have to use separate devices to accomplish. We want iPods that let us word process and web browse, and laptops that fit in our pockets and take pictures and make phone calls. When a company like Apple lets it slip that they’re working on something kind of cool, we want it, and we want it NOW! When we don’t get it, well, like all good internet users, we tear that company down, call them liars, accuse them of all sorts of nasty business practices, and ultimately, we get a product that might have been much better if we’d chilled out a bit and let the latest technological bun stay in the oven a bit longer. The human imagination will always work faster than human hands, what we think up will always be just slightly beyond what we can make at the time, that’s where innovation is created. But to expect, or, I dare say, demand innovation on a semi-annual basis, simply because we’ve become bored with the last latest craze (although most users have barely scratched the surface on the capabilities of their smart phones) is expecting too much of the tech industry. They were doomed to fail at keeping up with demand at some point. I think the iPad is the unfortunate result of too much demand and not enough time. I guess the bright side is, we didn’t really need it anyway.