I am quite convinced the quick ascent of the nascent Apple iPad will be a thundering earthquake that will change, in less than a year, the way most of us do our public business on the web and our private pleasures at home. Technological advances come in flashes and thunderstorms and not drips and drabs. The iPad is such a phenomenon that it will kill three things in rapid order:
1. Adobe Flash Flash is dead. Wrap it up. Bury it. Join the second line and dance on its grave. Flash is a bad programming nightmare and it kills Firefox on the Mac on a daily basis. After learning the iPad would not support Flash, I installed “Flashblock for Firefox” to see what I’d be missing and I’m not missing anything except fluff and bad menu systems.
The iPad will push the emergency employment — and universal acceptance of — HTML5 and that’s a good thing.
But concerns over the lack of Flash in the iPad and iPhone may be short-lived. Many online video sites have been experimenting with a new Web language that can support video, called HTML5. Unlike Flash, which is a downloaded piece of software that can interact with a computer’s operating system, HTML5 works directly in a Web browser. And although this new video format does not work in all browsers, it will allow iPhone and iPad users to enjoy more Web-based video content. YouTube announced this year that it was testing the new format for select videos. In the past, YouTube videos were encoded in Flash, but were re-encoded for the iPhone.The popular video-sharing site Vimeo.com is also experimenting with new platforms, based on comments from its online community. “We received a tremendous amount of feedback from our users saying that they wanted to have HTML5 as an option for their videos,” said Andrew Pile, vice president for product and development at Vimeo, an online video service. Mr. Pile does not see this new format replacing Vimeo’s Flash-video inventory, but will instead offer it as an option for its viewers. Other video sites, including Blip.tv and Flickr.com, Yahoo’s photo and video-sharing Web site, also hope to start experimenting with alternatives to the Flash video platform in the coming year.
2. Kindle I was a pioneer adopter of both versions of the Amazon Kindle. Then the DX came out two months after I bought Version 2.0 and, feeling burned, my want to spurn the kindle as I had been spurned by Amazon, grew. When Amazon then deleted content from the device, I knew it was time to start hoping for a new King of the Mountain.
The iPad, as our new King will demolish the Kindle because Amazon allowed Apple to catch up and now the Kindle will never recover. Forget the hoo-ha that the Kindle is “easier on the eyes” than an iPad for extended reading. Most of us spend more than eight hours a day looking at a computer screen that is less bright and less beautiful and less precise than the iPad screen. Ever tried reading a Kindle in bed? It’s impossible unless you have a direct light source for the screen. You can read an iPad in the dark and on a bright beach.
Amazon made three fatal errors with the Kindle: It was always too expensive, it never had color, the screen was not touch aware.
Amazon should’ve made the Kindle a loss leader and sold it for $99 from the start and hooked everyone into buying books for the device with a $200 book buying credit for each unit sold.
Now that book Kindle book prices are increasing — because of the iPad — and because Amazon is now hoping to add touch capacity to the Kindle — because of the iPad — we all now know what Amazon has known for at least a year: The Kindle was merely a stopgap — a mere way station — on our the way to the iPad.
On Sunday, Amazon alerted customers that it had bowed to pressure from publisher Macmillan, which insisted on charging $12.99 to $14.99 for its books sold at the Kindle e-reader bookstore rather than Amazon’s standard $9.99.The pricing reflects terms agreed upon by five of the six top publishers for selling e-books on Apple newly unveiled iPad multimedia tablet, the New York Times reported. Amazon has long touted low prices and selection as its primary appeal to consumers, who helped push Amazon’s revenue up 42 percent in its most recent fourth quarter.
Book pricing has been key to pushing growth of the Kindle since its launch in 2007, but has also put Amazon at odds with publishers. Major publishing houses have complained that low prices on digital versions of its titles will cannibalize sales of higher-priced hardback copies.
3. iPhone The biggest killer surprise of the iPad will be found in the demise of the iPhone. People may think they want duplicate content on their iPhone and their iPad but they really do not. Once you use a Google map on an iPad, you won’t want to touch it on an iPhone. Once you play a high resolution game on the iPad, you won’t play it on a tiny iPhone screen. The iPhone was always intended merely as a stopgap — a mere way station — on our way to the iPad.
Apple knows the eye wants excitement and you get there will color and a glowing brightness and, so far, the iPhone has offered us that entertainment; but the iPad will quadruple the delight of the iPhone and many of us will never look back for the same functionality in the iPhone and that is actually a grand thing for Apple because it allows them to reimagine the iPhone in a smaller form factor with a longer battery life as it becomes more of a phone and comms system and less an entertainment device.
For the iPhone to get better and faster, it will have to lose some functionality. Apps will become more associated with the iPad and not the iPhone: Games, Photos, Calendar, Address Book, Documents, Presentations, Web Surfing will all be pushed over to the iPad and you won’t mind a bit because the experience will be better.
We know the iPad is the new mobile data device due to the pureness of simple economics: People don’t want to pay twice for the same functionality. How many mainstream people will want to pay a data rate for both an iPhone and an iPad? Not very many. Apple knows the bet is on the non-contract, big screen, iPad and not the iPhone for data slurping. Forced to make a choice of data platform devices — people will always let the eye decide — and the iPad wins that entertainment convenience in every way.
The iPhone will one day be the size of an in-the-ear-canal hearing aid and so “carrying two devices” becomes a non-issue as your iPhone is preternaturally carried in your ear and your iPad will be forever blended with your hip. There are already hearing aids made today that support Bluetooth so you can use your aid with your cellular phone.
If you’re out in the real world and you need quick information, you will either use an enhanced SMS service on your future, tiny, voice-command, ear-insert iPhone — or you will find a quiet corner on a busy street and yank out your iPad to get more detailed information. Your iPhone is for instant communication with people. Your iPad is for consistent information streaming in a long flow format that will work for you and update for you while you think about other things.
This transition from iPhone to iPad may take a year or so — and that’s okay with Apple as people get used to the idea of changing modes of thinking from hand to hands to hands-free — and, for awhile, there may be more enticing feature sets on the iPhone, but as the iPad gets refined and resolved, the push from Apple will be to make the iPhone “just a spectacular ear bone phone” and the iPad your everything else.
I don’t imagine Apple would ever want to include voice with the iPad because they always want you to have both an iPhone and an iPad, but as the communication meme changes from voice to visual communication, the iPad will become your device of choice for video conferencing and multi-tasking group video calls.
The only thing holding Apple back from making the iPad an iPhone demolisher right now is the weak data backbone of all cellular providers
— but when that backbone muscles up, so too will the capabilities of the iPad
— and that will bring you even better and smarter iPad enhancements as the line between the self and the online experience become grey and then fuzzes and then glimmers into a reflexive dyad that will replace the notion of needing to go online because we will always be online and there will no longer be a public facade to present or a private self to protect. There will only be the “us” of us together, tethered, and stronger than ever.