Why the iPad failed

July 2010

Back in June I had the pleasure of winning an iPad from the Onotate team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely thankful but after less than 2 months of very little usage I’ve sold it. Why did it fail me?


There's no use case

I have no use for the iPad. So many times I’ve “tried to fit it into my life” but it never really caught on.

A £400/£500 gadget shouldn’t be something you try to fit into your life. It should just fit. When I bought my first MacBook Pro a couple years back, it fitted perfectly. When I purchased an iPhone, it fitted perfectly. These things allowed me to be more efficient and productive. The iPad doesn’t do that.

I’ve struggled to find a use case for it. The best I’ve found is reading the Sun in bed when I wake up in the morning. That’s a damn expensive newspaper, considering you still have to pay a monthly subscription for the newspaper on top of the initial app purchase.

I’ve also tried browsing the web while in front of the TV, but again I rely to much on my “work environment”. As a web designer I’m never just browsing, I’m usually doing some sort of work on the computer that involves a host of other apps.

iPad apps suck

I have yet to discover an iPad app that ‘wows’ me. Yes there are lots of beautifully designed apps from a lot of talented developers but nothing has stuck out as a ‘must have’.

If you ask someone with an iPad to recommend some apps, you’ll generally get a response that includes the following.

File sharing apps

What’s the deal with file sharing apps? Haven’t we been sharing files easily for years? Why do we need an app to do this? I can just use my laptop to produce the files I need and remove the need to ‘share’ them or sync them from the iPad.

Reading apps

I tried to read books on the iPad. I have to admit it is a lot better than I thought it would be, but you still can’t beat a physical book.

I prefer lifting a book, highlighting key lines with a highlighter, bending a page corner and setting that beside my bed as a reminder to read it. A digital book doesn’t replace that.

RSS readers

When it comes to reading RSS feeds, if I come across a useful article I’ll tag in on delicious. If it’s really useful, I’ll share it on Twitter, or I’ll open up TextMate or Photoshop to make something. I can do these things no problem on the MacBook Pro but on the iPad it can’t be done or in the case of sharing on Twitter, it involves opening and closing apps.

Why is it so successful?

The iPad failed for me but it certainly hasn’t seemed to have failed Apple.

Apple indicates that it has sold 3.27 million iPads as of June 26. That translates to more than $2 billion in revenue for the company in a product category that didn’t even exist one year ago.

The above is a recent extract from Mashable.

A few good use cases or suitable personas I can think of include:

  • People who travel a lot - it's lighter than a laptop, has longer battery life, so is useful for email management and web browsing if traveling regularly
  • Sales people - if you go out to pitch to potential customers regularly or give one to one presentations on a regular basis it is quite useful

Is it a fail in the long run?

Apple have introduced this new product to the market, and being the first company to do so has contributed to its success. It’s a new toy, a new era, so people are jumping on board and trying to justify its existence.

One year from now we’ll surely see a certain ‘type’ of person who relies heavily on the iPad, but right now I’m not sure who that will be.

For me, I’d prefer to sell the iPad (which I have done) and upgrade to an iPhone 4 (which I plan on doing).

Have you got an iPad? Do you want one? What do you really think of it?

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