Why I’m looking forward to 2012: Or why a longtime Apple user still won’t be an early adopter

Let’s get this straight: my first adult computer purchase was an iMac Rev B back in 1998. I’m writing this on a black second-gen MacBook (soon to be replaced with a MacBook Pro). My 32GB iPhone 3GS goes everywhere I go, and I cannot travel without my 160GB iPod Classic. I smoke the ApplePipe in several different flavors, and I’m a daily user at that.

On the other hand, consider the specifics of what I use. I have never bought a first-generation Apple product. And, frankly, taking one look at the iPad’s unveiling this week, I am not persuaded to break my non-streak.

Look, no doubt about it, the iPad is pretty freakin’, well, pretty. It is the latest drop dead gorgeous design from the Cupertino boys, yet another Apple product where to see one with all of its smooth curves is to lust after one. The adaptation of the iPhone touchscreen interface to take advantage of a 9.7 inch screen looks stunning; that trick of using finger swipes to expand photo collections has me panting on my knees all by itself. Not only that, but if the printed newspaper is going to go the way of the Newton, then I want my digital version to look as nice and easy to read as the New York Times app demo did yesterday. That looks like something you can read with your coffee and eggs at the breakfast table.

I’m also daring iBooks to make a believer out of me. Let’s be honest — I love real books too much to be able to stomach spending a few hundred dollars on a Kindle; why would I want to spend a few hundred dollars on a dedicated device that doesn’t do the real thing as well as the real thing and has a smaller screen than the page size of the books I usually read? (There’s also the matter of wanting Isaac Asimov to be sorely wrong about the fate of print books he imagined for the Foundation series.) I’d have to get a Kindle DX to feel like I was reading a real book and not one I’d bought at the grocery store, and that still doesn’t solve my problem of compulsively wanting to underline and make copious notes in what I read. However, if the device in question is also the must-have subset of my portable music collection, movie collection, and a working productivity machine that’s even thinner and lighter than my laptop — well, that’s more than double the functionality of a dedicated e-book reader, and already with a reasonably-sized screen, for all of $10 more than the Kindle DX. Sounds like a no-brainer to me — if I’m going to put out that kind of dosh, it better do all of that.

(That said, looking at the screenshots of the iBooks interface, Delicious Library has got to be pissed right now. Probably not for the first time either, since their iPhone app still seems to be dead in the water.)


The truth is, as really and truly super-amazing-awesome all of that is, it doesn’t do anything that I’m just absolutely dying on the vine for it to do. There is not a category of device in my life into which it neatly fits; my MacBook took the place of my old Dell notebook, my iPhone replaced my cracked and cheap Samsung, and the utility of an iPod arose when I started traveling overseas. If the iPad is going to insinuate itself into my life (and not only do I grant that this may be inevitable, but I also sincerely hope that it is), I gotta have a reason. Right now, anyway, the iPad can’t replace all of those things wholesale without me giving up functionality. It can be a smaller version of my stuff (sorry, George Carlin), it can even be the version I curl up with next to a roaring fire while my wife looks on disapprovingly, but that’s all it can be as of yet — a version. Now, we may well be heading to the day when what we now think of as laptops are actually de facto desktops for all intents and purposes, and devices like the iPad become the portable working machine, but I just don’t think we’re there yet.

Besides which, I really can’t bring myself to be an early adopter of anything when it comes to teh gadgetz. 2000 was when I got my first DVD player. 2001 was when my wife and I first got cell phones. I just entered the Blu-Ray and HDTV market this last Christmas. I don’t have so much disposable income that my first thought when I see my wallet is, “Hey! What bleeding-edge device can I go out and buy today?” No, I’m one of those people who relies on the early adopters to work out the kinks for me, so that when the second, third, or fourth generation devices come along that I do buy, there are standards in place (I’m looking at you, high-def videodisc market), and there is a reasonable set of features for a reasonable price.

And make no mistake, the iPad is still missing some things. 1080p video for one, both on the screen and for output (my flatscreen HDTV has spoiled me in just over a month). A front-facing camera for videoconferencing (if not a second camera on the back). A built-in USB port, if not an HDMI port, and a SD slot.

All of these factors put together make me look at the iPad and — well, it’s not that I shrug, it’s just that I wipe off the drool after a few seconds and go back to trying to figure out which MacBook Pro I’m getting.

See, if I know Apple, they know all of this already, and they already have a detailed roll-out plan specifying which generation gets which feature. If the idea is that they have a particular price point in mind and they add features as it becomes feasible to do so within that price point or lower, then there’s no question in my mind that over the next two years or so the product will get to where it’s worth somebody like me buying it. To me, though, it’s not just a question of adding features, but also a matter of what kind of an app library is developed for the device. A couple of years’ worth of individual ingenuity with the SDK could well make the iPad a must-have for reasons I can’t presently predict.

All of this is to say, I expect that sometime in 2012, two things will happen, assuming the world doesn’t end. One, the third-generation iPad will be unveiled, and it will include a sufficient number of the features I enumerate here (the camera or cameras, plus 1080p video, will be the dealmakers for me), probably the second hardware refresh, and it will be at a price point that prompts me to launch the Apple Store app on my 1TB iPhone 6GZX and order one.

Second, rumors will start flowing about the new device secretly being worked on in the bowels of Apple. Maybe it’ll be the iPen you use on your iPad — who knows. I’ll be too busy curled up in front of the fire with my new iPad to care. End of the world or not, 2012 can’t come soon enough.


4 Responses to “Why I’m looking forward to 2012: Or why a longtime Apple user still won’t be an early adopter”

  1. 1 SuperRob 29 January 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Fair points, and you’ve been echoing a lot of people.

    It’s not about what the iPad can do now. (Although for casual usage scenarios, it will excel the same way the iPhone excels at basic tasks for the majority of people.) It’s what developers will do with it in a couple months, now that they have the SDK.

    For me, I’ve already figured out where the iPad would fit into my life. The iPhone is the device I have on me all the time. Music (not movies, once I have an iPad), Email, Calendar, and the few apps I use multiple times a day. The iPad would be the “play” device. Movies (not music), web browsing, photos, and the kinds of things I’d want to share with others without having everyone hovering around my 3″ screen.

    I wouldn’t take it with me every day, though I would take it on trips. (Where I expect this to be a BIG hit is on PLANES.) And I could actually see getting a SECOND one for work, if work would pay for it, that is. Productivity (Email, Calendar, etc.) stuff looks very nice on that, and I already have my web browser and e-mail running on a portrait-oriented monitor at work now.

    That’s the reason why they showed The Steve sitting on a couch, fiddling. People already do that with their iPhone, and the iPad is supposed to replace THAT usage scenario with one better suited for it.

    Cameras, which a “nice to have” are a non-starter. Do you want to hold a device that large in front of your face the whole time? Or hold that giant thing up to take a picture? Not if you really think about it, and the iPhone already does that pretty well. Not to mention that video conferencing, if it were really going to have taken off, would have by now. I’ve had web cams for years, and despite wanting to, have NEVER used them. (Then again, I don’t have a Mac, so maybe those people use them?) Regardless, if you look at the ways the iPad was shown at the keynote (held, in a lap), you’d see why a camera is silly. Yes, I know about the dock, and while I’d use that in my work scenario, that’s the only time.

    Not having GPS is kind of disappointing. That would have been nice on road trips, but only if I had someone riding shotgun. I don’t see myself ever using the Maps app on an iPad in any other scenario.

    HD video (and specifically HD video output) is another “nice to have”. But again, in a closed ecosystem, you’re not getting video that high-def from Apple to begin with. If you are getting 720p video, Apple would prefer you using the LOWER PRICED Apple TV to do that. Plus, I think people who want to watch HD video on their TV’s have probably already found a good way to do that (I have several.)

    As for the no USB or SD options … There are no real USB devices for the iPhone, so why should there be for the iPad. For SD, Apple wants to limit the ways you get content onto the device, or more specifically OFF of the device. Removable Storage = Piracy, and remember, this is not a computer. It’s a consumer electronics device, just like the iPhone (they’re Apple Inc. now). That said, Apple will have USB and SD add on’s through the dock connector so that you can put pictures on the device, and that’s going to be the only way they’ll work.

    None of that really matters, though. You’re not an early adopter. You wait for technology to mature, to come down in price (though you’ll pay the premium for the experience), and more importantly, you wait to see how people really use it before you jump in. That’s perfectly fine. But the features it’s “missing” will probably not be there even when you do end up taking the plunge.

    Sorry this is so long and rambly …

    • 2 Richard Barrett 29 January 2010 at 2:22 pm

      I’m not sure I agree cameras are a non-starter; I have used Skype constantly for the last few years, and it is annoying to me that I can’t videoconference on the iPhone. Something like the iPad, at least in my estimation, needs to be able to run Skype in videoconference mode, and even if you aren’t using it to take still pictures, a back-facing camera would be nice to switch to for the “Say to hi to everybody else in the room!” moments. Failing that, a way perhaps of taking advantage of an iPhone’s camera would be nice.

      I guess the question about whether or not the iPad is “missing” features comes back to whether or not you see it as a giant iPhone or something else. I think it needs to be more than a giant iPhone for it to be worth it to me.

  1. 1 Sam Zuckerflynn « Leitourgeia kai Qurbana: Contra den Zeitgeist Trackback on 18 January 2011 at 1:43 am
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