[NTLK] Who here thinks the iPad is a worthy replacement for the Newton?

Tony Douglas tonyisyourpal at netscape.net
Fri Mar 19 17:06:12 EDT 2010

I've avoided weighing in on this topic on the grounds that very few of the list readership will actually have *used* an iPad yet, so most commentary is based on what people think/believe/want/have seen in the ads/have heard Steve Jobs say, rather than anything that actually *is*. And let's face it, if Chairman Steve stood up and pitched a product and *didn't* leave huge numbers of people wanting to buy it on his say-so, that product would have to be a complete clunker. Whatever you might think of him as a person or as a businessman or as a company leader, he's one heck of a salesman. Let's wait and see what the product itself is *actually* like, when put to use out in the "real world". The devil is always in the detail, and what seems like a wonderful feature in broad strokes marketing might actually be a bloomin' nuisance in day to day use, or worse, a novelty you go "cooo !" over the first few times you use it, then switch it off after a couple of days when it has become genuinely irritating. Equally what seems like a "so what ?" feature might actually be the thing that makes it an absolute winner. Until we see it/use it, who knows ?

That said, when I read writings that talk about what "most people" do, or what "everyone" gets up to, my hackles immediately go up. Who *are* these "most people" ? Who *is* "everyone" ? Middle class white people with sufficient disposable income to buy gadgets ? Mid-level businessmen keen on the latest piece of executive jewellery ? (Blackberries are soooo last decade !) What about those of the same chronological age as genX or genY who haven't used a computer as yet for geographical and/or economic reasons ? Or seniors who would rather do anything than get involved in that computery stuff ? Are we including them in "everyone" or "most people" ? (It's similar to the "Microsoft have won the desktop" argument. How many desktops have computers on them ? Now, how many desktops *don't* have a computer on them ? Then ask again, have Microsoft really won the desktop ?)

That said, I reckon the iPad might well be a game changer at the consumer level in the same way that the Newton ought to have been a game changer at the professional level. It's hard to explain exactly why, but if you have an eMate and a MessagePad handy, try using a piece of software on the MessagePad. Then try using the same piece of software in the same way, using the stylus, on the eMate. That darn keyboard really gets in the way, doesn't it ? Imagine what might happen if more people get their hands on a device that gets the keyboard out of their way....

But I'm imagining, and that's the very thing I started off complaining about others doing. Suffice to say, I won't be buying an iPad, because so far I haven't seen that it does anything I want or need another gadget to do. I can see it being a real winner with people who *haven't* currently got a computer and don't really want one either - the aforementioned seniors who don't want a computer, but would like to be able to do a bit of email, a bit of browsing and so on. But not for me, and not for a surprising number of other tech-heads I know who would normally be gasping to get their hands on some new Apple shininess.

While I'm at it, HWR is excellent in meetings too. After you get past the initial "what on earth is that ?", other people forget you're scribbling on an electronic pad rather than a paper one. There's nothing worse or more distracting than someone doing a Liberace and clattering away on a keyboard in the corner when you're trying to concentrate on what's going on in a meeting I find. Not sure how well speech recognition would do with multiple people chattering away, often over each other, and I've never used a virtual keyboard I'd look forward to using again with anything approaching happy thoughts...

- Tony

-----Original Message-----
From: Ryan <newtontalk at me.com>
To: newtontalk at newtontalk.net <newtontalk at newtontalk.net>
Sent: Fri, Mar 19, 2010 8:35 pm
Subject: Re: [NTLK] Who here thinks the iPad is a worthy replacement for the Newton?

Interesting the resistence to the iPad on here. I think in this day  
and age it comes down to what is the most efficient input method for  
each appropriate environment. From an evolutionary standpoint, each  
organism is trying to be as efficient as possible.

In private, speech is bar none the most efficient with a trained user.  
In public environments, a full physical keyboard takes top spot. On  
the go in public a virtual keyboard takes top spot with trained users.  
In private, on the go speech is pretty good...

When the Newton launched in 93 a lot more people were not touch  
typists, including executives. Apple wanted to appeal to the world in  
terms of giving them somethimg they were familiar with, which was  
writing.  But they also designed the notes app to take just a terse  
bit of text. The message was clear. HWR was to jot things down, not  
write lengthy prose.

Now, most people in generation x and y are touch typists. And everyone  
uses a computer. A lot of us don't write with paper near as much.  
Letters have been replaced by Email; hard copy journal articles with  
electronic ones... It actually seems like in this day and age, people  
identify more with a computer than with a pen and paper.

So things have changed. These preferred input methods have reconciled  
themselves with consumers.  It was just a natural progression to the  
way things are today.

I do see HWR as useful for certain quick tasks. It does have utility.  
And Larry's software is really amazing.

But it won't take top spot because of the competing input methods like  
keyboards, virtual keyboards and speech.  If it was a better fit for  
the lifestyles of people today, the whole world would be using it.

Where a stylus would really come in handy is for graphic design on the  
iPad. But separate Wacom tablets that don't obstruct the artist's  
screen are now standard.  So consumers have spoken.

That's why I'm excited about the iPad because it will allow for all  
three preferred input methods. For this reason, it should serve the  
people of today's world extremely well.

Thank you,


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