Linked by Kroc Camen on Thu 28th Jan 2010 17:29 UTC
Web 2.0 Wolfire writes: "Today, Apple announced the new iPad and humbly claimed that there will be a "gold rush" of native apps for the App Store. Sure, but what I find more interesting is that Apple also ironically created the most promising open web app platform, which may eventually undermine the App Store itself. [...] The iPad is the first mainstream device which combines all of the following factors: reasonably powerful hardware, a (potentially) huge user base, a mature WebKit implementation, and constant 3G internet capabilities. All the dominoes are in place, and I think that the iPad will knock the first one down."
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Apple's plan...
by JonathanBThompson on Thu 28th Jan 2010 20:19 UTC
JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

Software by Apple is just a means to an end to sell their hardware: it is the value-added proposition that they want to be known for, the total user experience. If they can gain enough force of numbers to get some other software (which tends to make a system look bad due to unreliability and being very suboptimal on anything but Windows, and even on Windows, I'm not so sure about reliable) to bow out of the race and not have to support the whole mess, all while supporting their own, that's all the better: then people don't have nearly as much logical reason to avoid buying their hardware.

If Apple were all about the software, and that was their main focus, why would they have gone out of their way to make it feasible for people to install Windows on their Macs of the Intel era? Ultimately, if people buy their hardware, even if only to run Windows, Apple wins, because they make a high-margin hardware sale, compared to a typical commodity PC maker: the OS doesn't matter in this case, as the Mac has always been fairly open, with no AppStore. On the other hand, the model Apple has taken with the iPhone and now the iPad includes a tight control of the software ecosystem like that which is done by many other small systems (game consoles and many phone makers for various, though not all, models) because that's a selling point for a large enough group of actual and potential customers that aren't geeks and extremists: something that works in a predictable manner, with a desired user experience. Clearly, it won't appeal to all the tweaker-geeks and those that want things that Apple doesn't allow: is this any different from a game console in that respect?

The iPad is most probably going to be a commercial success for exactly the reasons that a lot of the tweaker geeks hate it: because it has a certain amount of flexibility and power, but not so much that it requires a tweaker geek to make it remain functional, combined with the form factor for casual use, largely on the couch, with no concern about blocking off air vents or anything like that, or looking for outlets all the time, and for a price lower than a lot of the more powerful laptops, though more than most netbooks, but without the management overhead of having more power than most users know how to manage, or simply want to manage.

If it started at $999, especially in these economic times, Apple would have a flopper on their hands, almost certainly, but the price is sufficiently low that they're likely to make inroads into the market in a meaningful way, not only because of what it already does out of the box, and not even just because it does it at the price it does it, but also the other big reason: even if 99% of the available apps are crap and of no conceivable use to any single person, there's still (as of yesterday's announcement) over 140,000 pre-existing applications to run on it, as-is, that are designed for a touch-based GUI from the start: while Android and Palm's WebOS do that to some degree, as of yet, they simply don't have that many applications available that are already known about, and they're also not as easily found by the casual user for site (iTunes AppStore has SO MUCH it's a mess to navigate!) precisely because there are other places you can/must get certain applications, and, because there are so many available with a single store via the AppStore, so much of the available software is somewhere between dirt cheap and free: Apple may get a lot of revenue from the AppStore, but likely make a rather small amount of profit directly from it, as, again, it exists... to sell hardware. If that weren't the case, what would be the logic of Apple releasing iWorks for the iPad for a grand total of $29.97 (before tax) for Keynote, Numbers and Pages? Surely Apple isn't going to make a meaningful amount of money on an office suite for $30 if that were the purpose: it's there to sell hardware, and, perhaps, undercut Microsoft from being able to compete in terms of software price. Sure, Microsoft Word and Excel are more powerful word processors and spreadsheets than Apple's offerings, and there are things I know how to do with both that simply cannot be done with Apple's: but how many people use enough of the more powerful features to justify their price?

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