Apple's iPad - the tablet with the data center soul
We want your eyeballs. And your money
Comment The soul of Apple's soon-to-be-unveiled iPad won't reside in Cupertino. You'll find it in Catawba County, North Carolina.
That's the whereabouts of the WestStar Mission Critical Data Park, where Apple is busily building its $1bn data center, scheduled to open later this year.
Yes, we're fully aware that the iPad is still a chimera and that no official word has yet emerged from The Great Steverino - not even about its mere existence, let alone its capabilities.
But let's muse a bit. The iPad - or whatever Apple chooses to call its upcoming tablet-style computing platform - will be first and foremost a content-consumption device. That content will include web pages, downloaded audio and video, ebooks unlike anything a Kindle or Nook can offer, and interactive games with in-game level and attribute purchases.
As such, the iPad will succeed where other tablets have failed. Despite what some naysayers are naysaying, the time is ripe for a portable device that's designed primarily to entertain and educate. The earlier waves of tablets occurred before the maturation of the internet, before the digitization of music and video, before the coming emergence of enhanced ebooks.
The failures of other tablet tries such as GO Corporation's PenPoint OS, the GRiDPAD 2050SL, and Microsoft's Windows for Pen Computing teach us exactly nothing about the future of the iPad. Their developers wanted you to ditch your laptop and replace it with their tablet.
That's not Apple's goal. Cupertino wants you to keep your laptop - or, better yet, buy a new MacBook - and also get yourself an iPad. The iPad isn't a replacement for anything. It's a new paradigm. It's not a creation device. It's a consumption device.
Oh, you'll almost certainly be able to use it for productive work. After all, such apps as Quickoffice even let you muck about with Excel and Word docs on your iPhone. But that won't be the iPad's raison d'être.
And that's where that big ol' data center in Catawba County comes in.
Apple wants you to devour content on your iPad in big, tasty - and, for Cupertino, lucrative - chunks. It wants you to watch TV on your iPad. Otherwise, it wouldn't be talking to CBS and Disney about subscription TV. It wants you to read enhanced "redefined print" content on your iPad - or it wouldn't be holding "secret meetings" with New York book publishers or talking with HarperCollins, one of the megapublishers looking to standardize ebook formats, publishing systems, and sales.
It wants you to continue to buy (or rent via subscription services) tunes, videos, apps, games, and other content from its ludicrously successful iTunes Store - which, by the way, just downloaded its three-billionth app two weeks ago, adding to the unknown squillions of tunes and videos it has sold.
And it wants to serve ads to you while you're blissfully enjoying your iPad entertainment. Witness Wednesday's rumor that Apple is in talks with Microsoft about a deal to ditch Google and go Bing - a search engine with a graphic-heavy style that's a natural for the iPad. As we noted in today's story, however, a Bing pact might be just a stop-gap until Apple can launch its own search engine - with its own ad service.
More work for all those servers humming away in low-electricity-costs North Carolina.
The iPad is not an independent device. It's the sucker on the end of a tentacle that's rooted all the way back in Catawba County, down US 321 Business at Startown Road. And that sucker is aimed directly at your entertainment dollar.
So pay no mind to those who kvetch that the iPad isn't an acceptable business machine. Of course it isn't - that's not what it's for. The Walkman was a poor substitute for the Dictaphone, but Sony's iconic portable music-maker had a pretty good run.
Expect the same for the iPad. ®
One thing that professionals and geeks will never understand is this: The majority of people now use computers mainly to consume anyway. They hate PCs, they hate keyboards, lids and trackpads, they can't touch-type, they hate buttons, they hate complex operating systems, GUIs and software and they are perfectly willing to use crappy keypads on mobile phones to type billions of text messages each day. Between all this they will LOVE tablets. Anyone doubting this is part of a small minority. Anyone even bothering to write comments on articles in the web is part of that minority. The majority does not think that writing coherent paragraphs of text is fun. That's hard work to them and they like to avoid it and to have an excuse to fire off a short half-sentence instead.
People want to consume music, videos and the web, and they want to play games and use simple apps. They buy PCs because there is no other option, not because they like anything about these PCs. In fact they hate most of what makes up a PC, both in hard- and software. As a personal or home computer tablets will be what comes after the desktop PC and the laptop. The keyboard will go the way of the floppy and the contemporary UI with overlapping windows will go the way of the textmode interface. The very same people who always use the mouse to click the OK button instead of hitting return will be happy to do away with the mouse and tap the OK button with their finger instead. And they also will be happy to not have to click the maximize button on every window anymore, since every app will use the full screen anyway.
And there is nothing wrong with that.
I think you're just a victim of selection bias. Most people don't write much and don't enjoy it. And most people even don't like to have several windows on the screen, they find it confusing and, well, ugly. They want to see what they're looking at and nothing else. They don't enjoy to stare at complex technology. Again, if I say "most people" I don't mean "most professional IT workers" or "most secretaries" or "most programmers". I mean "most of the about 70% of the population that uses computers at home".
People care a fuck about "computers". They want the Internet, music, movies, porn, games and straight, inexpensive, single-purpose apps that are fun to use.
The iSlate/Pad/Whatever is needed because ...
POOR PEOPLE are getting the iPhone! I've heard that some are even UNEMPLOYED!
This state of affairs cannot continue.
My street 'cred' is disappearing!