17 August 2015

Above Avalon: “Finding iPad’s Future”

On closer examination, there are cracks in the iPad story. School districts have seen mixed results with iPad adoption programs. We have seen a few high-profile disasters where the combination of a lack of curriculum built for the iPad, along with high costs, made the iPad not the magical device in the classroom once thought. The idea of replacing student books with iPads never materialized due to poor incentives in the textbook industry, not to mention technological limitations found with the device.

The scope of iPad in enterprise still remains mostly a dream. We are seeing more stories about enterprise embracing Macs, not iPads. Meanwhile, consumer usage on iPad has moved away from content creation apps. Take a look at the iPad App Store to see the lack of compelling apps for larger screens for additional evidence of iPads being used much more for basic content consumption.

Neil Cybart

iPad’s problem has existed for a while and it’s nice that Apple supporters are finally waking up to it. But I don’t think solving it has anything to do with refreshed hardware or minor software changes like split-screen – I would even say that, if someone thinks that’s a valid solution, they haven’t actually understood the problem.

iPads and iPhone

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend who wanted a recommendation for a tablet. She simply wanted to play movies for her son during long trips and at the restaurant, to keep him distracted and hopefully quiet. Streaming from YouTube was not an option during trip, especially on airplanes or abroad, because of the limited network speed. We naturally discussed an iPad mini, and I immediately remembered how awkward it is to transfer files onto Apple’s mobile devices: you can’t simply copy files to the internal storage and have them immediately available in any app. After downloading the movies, you need to add them to the iTunes movie library, then sync to the device. I explained the process to her, but I’m pretty sure she will call me to assist her further.

These sort of limitations and minor annoyances are holding back the iPad: restrictive file management, being unable to add extra storage or connect the tablet to external devices, the small selection of apps specifically designed for the iPad. The OS is preventing the iPad from becoming a productivity device, not the size of its screen. As long as iOS doesn’t positively differentiate the iPad, it will remain a larger (or, worse, a mobile TV screen) that does mostly the same tasks, but rarely better or faster than an iPhone would.

The PC market relies on upgrade sales. The plastic spoon market relies on upgrade sales. The pants market relies on upgrade sales. But a device as young as the iPad should not be relying on upgrade sales to this degree. If Apple thinks that the iPad’s sales are falling because of a long upgrade cycle, the implication is that the iPad has already reached a large portion of all people it’s ever going to reach.

Lukas Mathis

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