Sunday, April 25, 2010

iPad for Media

Well from this string of posts you're going to think I hate the iPad, but lets just say i'm calling it as I see it and i'm not blinded by the light of Apple.

On the way out on my vacation I watched a movie (X-Men Wolverine) on the iPad. The screen size and weight are perfect for video on the airplane. But there were a few problems. First, since its a touch device the large screen is littered with fingerprints, smudges etc. Its a pain to clean such a large screen and whole sites and products are springing up discussing this issue. They claim the iPad has a fingerprint resisting oleophobic coating on the screen, but mine is quickly littered with fingerprints and smudges. So when you go to read a book or watch a movie it must first start with a cleaning session. I never had to do that with the old DVD players I carried on the plane or my laptop (whose screen I had no reason to touch). The second, is since Apple chose a glossy glass screen, all light is reflected back at you. On a plane, during daylight hours, this makes it hard to see stuff on the screen. For these two reasons, the iPad is not great as a video device unless you have oil free hands (they have cures for that) and only watch movies in the dark. 

On the way home I wanted to try an eBook. My had had been reading Lee Child's Gone Tomorrow, currently #7 on the NY Times bestseller list and I figured i'd give that a try. I started with Apple's iBook's application and looked in the store. Gone Tomorrow is episode #13 of some character (never read any of the others). iBooks had 4 of the 14 books in that line and Gone Tomorrow was not one of them. Then I went to the Kindle store. They had all 14. With content, its either there or it isn't. The iBook store, missing current bestsellers, is currently a nonstarter. This wasnt the first book i've looked for to find missing there.

Next I read the first 6 chapters on the iPad with the Kindle sample. That went well and was enjoyable enough. But with the smudges (mentioned above), the limited portability of an iPad (I wouldnt dare take it to a beach or have it next to me at the pool while the kid splashes), and the inability to share a good book with a friend I find that eBooks have less value than real books, yet cost more. My Dad had given me his paper copy so after chapter 6 I switched to the "real" book and i'm back on track.

I love gadgets, but they have to be built for a purpose. My experience so far is that the iPad was built with no conceived purpose, but with the hopes that others would figure one out. Thats a sad thing to do to your customers. Build products with a purpose, if you find your customers use it for something different then adapt and do it quickly. 
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