iPad 2: Thoughts on the Keynote

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The day after an Apple Keynote is one for quiet reflection on and consolidation of the giddy announcements of the previous eve. The excitement of the moment, when you know that you are one of many many people focused inside the Reality Distortion Field, has gone. The energy pumping through your body while you process and relish new features, has faded. Left are the cold specs, pics on Apple’s webpages, the Keynote as podcast to enjoy, leisurely this time and lots to collectively digest in the blogosphere.

While watching the Keynote for a second time with my hubby tonight, I couldn’t help but admire Apple’s not so subtle message this time around. Last year, they took a bold mighty risk in launching the iPad, to much derision of the rest of the tech world (remember the sanitary napkins jokes anyone?) 15 million iPads sold later (and no, not just sell-in) the rest of the gang have launched, or are about to start shipping, their candidates, hoping to get a slice of the now potentially gigantic Tablet Economy pie.

But note the message of the wannabes. We’ve got these better-than-iPad killer features, we’ve got Flash, we’ll beat them in enterprise, we’ve got a smaller/bigger/better screen. Blah blah blah. Notice anything about these pitches? They think (and don’t Apple’s competitors always seem to think) it’s about the specs. That even explains why some observers were let down, citing a myriad of things Steve did NOT announce yesterday. No Thunderbolt, Retina Display, still no Flash.

Apple’s message is that it’s about people, possibilities, and creativity. After spending the 1st half hour matter-of-factly listing new specs and accessories, their focus switches. They show a video to show the past (almost) year in iPad, showing people around the world, from all walks of life, using the iPad to enrich their lives: teaching, reading, playing, learning, communicating. And no, it’s not all marketing. Have you ever put an iPad in the hands of a child? It’s not all marketing. It’s real.

The rest of the event was all apps. They demoed 4 new apps (Facetime, Photobooth, iMovie and Garageband) as if to say: can you film, edit and share a personal movie on a Playbook? Can you record song ideas, learn to play an instrument on a Xoom? Can you create fun video moments on a Galaxy Tab? This is where the battle will be fought. Apps will determine the future of the tablets. Will they spurn innovative uses for tablets in education, science, or communication? Or will they simply go down in history as also-rans?

Near the end of the Keynote, Steve Jobs spells it out, for those who still don’t get it:

“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these Post-PC devices. And a lot of folks in the tablet market are rushing in and they’re looking at this as the next PC. The hardware and the software are done by different companies. And they’re talking about speeds and feeds just like they did with PCs. And our experience in every bone in our bodies says that that is not the right approach to this. These Post-PC devices need to be even easier to use than a PC, that need to be more intuitive than a PC.”

This is what a lot of us respect in Apple. A company that works hard to improve lives with their devices. It’s part of their vision. They walk the walk, leaving the rest of the pack, as Steve put it, flummoxed.

Feel free to share your thoughts on Apple’s Keynote message in the comments.


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6 thoughts on “iPad 2: Thoughts on the Keynote”

  1. Great article! I agree on the differing mindsets between Apple and virtually the rest of the tech world. It will interesting to see where those differences take us over the long haul.

    Despite the fact that Google’s Honeycomb tablet OS is definitely trending toward complexity, and all their hardware partners are blowing out the specs, there have been some tacit admissions of the effectiveness of Apple’s design prowess and philosophy. Google recently had to admit that their completely hands off approach to the Android Market was not working as they hoped, and that they were going to shift gears and do more active curation. This may not have seemed like a big deal, but it is a huge shift in philosophy from a company that makes loves to make claims of “openess” and purposely keeps its customers at arms length. Despite media and consumer complaints about how Apple runs the App Store, they are running rings around Google in sales and app profits, and Google had to acknowledge it. It will be interesting to see how far they go with their curation.

    The other event that points back to Apple would be Samsung’s new tablet. Samsung, which after the release of the 7″ Galaxy Tab and all their marketing bluster about how superior it was to the iPad, has now shifted to a 10″ platform for their latest creation. While it is possible that an updated 7″ version will be released with Honeycomb at some point, it stood out to me as an obvious about-face. This is especially true when you consider how their initial claims of great sales numbers turned out to be lots of shipped Tabs that sat unsold on various retail shelves.

    The 7″ form factor has its role. The Barnes and Noble Nook Color is a perfect example of that. However, 7″ doesn’t seem to be the preferred size of the power devices, which the iPad and the new Honeycomb tablets aspire to be.

    Anyway, again, great points all around in your article. Fostering the App Store, making the iPad friendly and easy to approach, and making top notch, easy to use software that sets the tone for 3rd party developers is the path to ultimate success. Apple easily covered all those bases yesterday.

  2. Great article. The interesting thing is this something that Apple has been doing for years and it’s gotten even better through iOS devices. I’ve been a Mac user for over 15 years and I’ve had the same arguments “it’s not just about the specs” way too many times with people who just never got it. Apple products inspire, they always have. I’m just glad that 15 million more users out there have learned this due to the iPad.

  3. It seems like Google’s blind trust of humanity and their anarchy-model of app sales is reaching its inevitable conclusion:
    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-android-users-malwear-apps.html

    They admit that some 50,000 downloads of legit apps that had been tampered with to add a trojan that would give all your data to whoever built the trojan. If that’s what they admit, what is the real story. Luckily, they reassure us that they are working fo find a cure for infected devices. Ideologues who worship ‘openness’ are dangerous dupes.

  4. I love Apple’s huge focus on creativity, especially with regard to the addition of iMovie and Garage Band. The iPad has so many features for the artist, photographer and the musician as it is and I doubt you’d find this group looking for SD card support or flash capabilities. Keep on keeping on, I’d say.

  5. Nice article!

    I’m actually interested in seeing what fresh ideas honeycomb brings to the table. Hopefully it will make Apple up their game, but I guess they always seem to go at their own pace, or in most cases set the pace.

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    http://www.tabletsector.com

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