The Apple iDoody
January 26, 2010
Guest Post by Philip Zannini
With just a day left to go before the big Apple event at the Yerba Buena center to announce the new tablet, slate, big iPod, iPony whatever the thing will be called, I felt a pressing need to go on record somewhere I could be heard with my prediction.
Now, you might be having some premonitions if you’ve looked at the title of the post (yes, it is a tip of the hat to Caddy Shack BTW) and you’re probably feeling pretty DARN good about knowing where I’m going. Well, you’re absolutely probably pretty somewhere in the right church, I have no idea if you’re in the right pew – or even if this church has pews or chairs. But iDigress.
Yes, my prediction is that on the 27th of this month Apple is about to launch is first bonafide (say it like Colonel Potter from the old MASH TV series) turd since the G4 Cube (pretty as that was too). And I know you’re saying “But PhillyMac! Dude! You’re an Apple fanboy, an iPhone developer (http://ventipixel.com) – heck you even hosted a popular Mac podcast and everything! How can you say that!?” The answer is: easy.
If all the rumors turn out to be true. If Apple does not surprise us with a completely different device and form factor than we’re getting all indications of, this is going to be a big stinker of a product. It’s going to be the slickest, most high powered heavily marketed chocolate snake since the Edsel. Yes it’s true. And I know I say this at the risk of angering many fans, but my job (as I see it) is to speak the truth.
The tablet market has been one going nowhere and had no one (except for Bill Gates) caring about it for a very long time. OK, OK. Fine, there’s a very small niche that actually does give a crap. But that’s it. This market has no broad or radical opportunities in it like the mobile phone market did, where every device had been crippled by the carriers demands, the tablet has been open forever.
I know. This is Apple! This is Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates! This is Johnny Ives, this is a new and better touch interface! (Well, in theory that’s supposed to be one of the big selling points anyway). And you’re right. It’s all of those! None of them make not a hanging chad worth of difference. This thing is still going to be one of the biggest loads laid at 1 Infinite loop since they had to grab the pooper scooper to pick up the Pippin droppings.
First there’s the price. Heads up here. We’re in a bit of a squeeze right now economically if you hadn’t noticed. This makes a difference when selling a computing device. Oh, sure, Mac sales are still up in a crazy manner. I’ll give you that. But those sales are up on machines that people are using as their daily driver. you know, camera, keyboards, track pads. All the standard inputs that make computers work – especially if you like to do things like say… oh, type an post like this one. Rumors are that this iStinker is going to be between $700-1000 dollars. That would make it a primary machine – not a secondary device like a netbook that you’re going to keep in the living room for your three year old to use as a step stool or a frizbee. Got it? Price on this will be a BIG barrier to entry. #PriceFAIL.
Second, there’s the price. No, I didn’t make a mistake, I just said the same thing. It applies differently. Just as price is an issue that will keep this from being the secondary machine, price is also the issue to keep it from being the new Kindle or whatever book reader thingy you’re going to get. Yes, yes. It has a color screen. Whoopee! So what!? So does my MacBook! But you’re saying that I can watch movies on it too! I know! I can do that on my MacBook already! And you know what, I can read eBooks on my MacBook too! With my external monitor, I can even flip it and use the portrait mode to make it even BIGGER to read 🙂 Oh, wait. I know, you’re going to tell me it has a great new touch interface. Great. See point one in the paragraph above. #PriceFAIL2.
Third, there’s the market. I know I already mentioned it, but I wanted to make sure you knew it was firmly on my list. Pay attention now or I’m going to box your ears. NO-BODY (except Alex Lindsay, Leo Laporte, Andy Ihnatko and Scott Bourne) want this thing. No one cares! This is one of those things that people at Apple are going to look back at and say “What the bloody hell were we thinking?” This isn’t like the mobile market where we were all desperate for a phone that could really work well and connect us. None of us want to use a tablet. I don’t want writing input, I type about three times faster (at least ) than I can write and when I’m done I can READ what I’ve written. I don’t care if I can use coverflow to find my document if it means that I have to type everything into that document with a virtual keyboard. Sure, I use the one on my iPhone – but that’s my PHONE. #MarketFAIL
Fourth, the size is wrong, Wrong, WRONG. The beauty of my iPhone is that it fits in my pocket. This would fit into my back pack – where it would have to share room with my MacBook because I need a device that has a keyboard and a mouse for all my standard input needs. I don’t care if I can touch the screen to move stuff – I’ve already got enough issues and have to have an expensive chair and weekly chiropractic visits to keep me well enough to function. Having to reach around on the darn input device like I’m drawing on an easel or on a real pad would put me in even more pain. But back to my original point here, it’s the wrong size. This isn’t the device I throw in my pocket with my Blistex and my license. It’s big, I can’t carry it around without thought and it is (as I’ve mentioned already) a secondary device. Let’s see, pick up the baby or spare another hand for the iDoody. Hmmm. #SizeFAIL.
People, please understand. As much as I love Apple. As much as I’d like this new device to revolutionize the world like the iPod and the iPhone – this ain’t it. As much as I love His Steveness, this is going to be another one of his single minded failures – something that gets made just because he’s the big dog at Apple and he says so (like the G4 cube, the hockey puck mouse and the mighty mouse). It makes me sad too.
I’ll admit it. This device is going to come out. It’s going to be pretty and shiny. It’s going to play video. It’s going to he an amazing touch interface that I’m SURE will be a blast to play with in the store (like Minority Report or something) but will be a DOG when you have to use it on a daily basis. I know these guys are the best at User Interface of anyone in the industry, but I can’t think of any conceivable interface based on touch that would mitigate the issues I’ve described above. Yes, I know I’m not Apple – but I am a UI/UX expert with a decade of experience designing interfaces – I can’t see how it will be done.
The device will be beautiful, even powerful. it’ll be very slick. I’m going to want one just because Steve will create a reality distortion field. But, once my head clears and I realize I have no possible use for this – and neither does 90% of the rest of the population – I won’t buy it. I’ll go into an Apple Store and I’ll play with the iDoody. When I’m done, I’ll grab a wipee and the hand sanitizer because really, it’s not hygienic to touch things after doody, whether Apple makes it or not.
Phillip is an Award Winning Mobile Device designer, UI/UX Authority, Brilliant Speaker (http://phillymacmedia.com) and the Co-Founder of Venti Pixel (http://ventipixel.com) where they’re busy cranking out iPhone (and other mobile device) applications like their language translation application DoubleSpeak (http://bit.ly/dspeak) and Flame Wars (http://bit.ly/fwtwitter)