Apple iPad Criticism and The Experience

Much of the criticism surrounding the iPad has been focused on the technical characteristics of the device. Its inability to run Flash, its lack of video conferencing capabilities, its non-existent USB ports, its closed system. Its interesting no one is attacking the iPad where it counts; squarely in the usage experience. A lot of tablet manufacturers are about to find out you can stuff all the hardware do-dads in a device they want but if the user doesn’t enjoy using the device they aren’t going to buy it. Gizmodo has an interesting article today that delves into the user experience of the iPad and how that is the only selling feature that matters.

The mission statement of the iPad experience can be summed up very nicely in an earlier Gizmodo review of the iPad’s industrial design:

The iPad functional objective was to make the product as invisible as possible, a simple, elegant stage for the real important actors: The applications.

The iPad isn’t about the hardware as an intermediary to some other experience, the experience of using the computer. There are no input devices to get in the way, no worrying about screen resolution, operating systems, or capability. You turn it on and use the input devices nature gave you to interact with it. While most of the fretting on the PC side of the ledger is about hardware specifications, input devices, and operating systems; on the iPad side all of that falls away in favor of the applications used on the device.

Such an emphasis on simple end use and not all of the issues that get a user to end use is one of the secrets, and misunderstandings, of the iPad. Many have said Steve Jobs ignored the “wish lists” of users. Those people are absolutely right. Apple had no interest in creating another computer that required keyboards, mice, large monitors, and a plethora of ports to operate. Instead of complicating the experience, they sought to simplify it. I’ve heard it said a couple of times already that the iPad is the first computer that “gets out of the way” of the user. No complications or concerns. Simply charge the device and go.

I think then much of the criticism centers on the iPad hardware instead of the iPad experience because it’s the only frame of reference a lot of users and pundits have. We like to compare things to previous experiences and on first blush the iPad is “just another computer”. When you realize the iPad isn’t about Gigahertz, Megabytes, Megabits per second, or any of the other empirical measurements many in the tech media use as a ruler, you open yourself to the notion it’s about the experience. And to Apple, this is all about the experience. If you grab an iPad in an Apple Store and are thoroughly blown away by the experience, you won’t care how much internal memory it has. That is the genius of the iPad and that is the genius of Apple.

Have you had a chance to partake in the iPad experience? Were you impressed by it without the need to ask about technical specifications? Do you find Apple’s tendency to focus on the user experience to be a positive or negative? Leave us a comment and let us know.


10 Comments on “Apple iPad Criticism and The Experience”

  1. ok, the iPad is at first glance impressive….

    but it’s totally impractical. Why spend five hundred dollars on it when you could buy a laptop for a bit more and do more on it… Really? The iPad is a giant iTouch that can download books. It’s a toy.

    As far as the software goes, what’s new? Apple didn’t go out of their way “for the customer” the wi-fi capabilities are nice, but pricy if you choose to have it anywhere.

    one last thing, (reminder actually) it seems unreal to spend so much money on this thing when one could buy a laptop…. Much more bang for the buck.

  2. Yes!!!! Anyone that hasn't used an iPhone or iPad always complains about hardware, and for apple it's not about that, it's about the software and experience! Which is marvelous, it just works

  3. After having used the iPad for the last week, I have to agree with the author. It's been a joy. If the quality of some of the apps available on day one is any indication, the iPad has a very well thought-out set of APIs for developers to leverage, and the coming months should see a fair amount of innovation.

    I bought the iPad mainly with work in mind (ssh, VNC, and snmp clients, and access to C++ reference materials), but was surprised to find myself absorbed in many of the apps focused around information and entertainment.

    @ JoeT. Agreed. The iPad definitely is better on a moonlit night 🙂

  4. This article really boils it down to the relevant point! I'm really looking forward to the experience, especially the new experience the iPad might provide for already known game concepts – which is why I'm currently developing a two-player Pong clone. Check out

  5. I only have one criticism of the ipad having actually seen it in person. The screen. It is utterly useless outdoors. On a sunny day it turns into a $500 mirror. Good luck trying to read an ebook by the pool.

  6. Some people just don't get it…. the pad is not suppose to be a net book. It is for fast casual media consumption around the house. It is not designed for media creation beyond short e-mails. Plus the ipad has one great advantage. You don't have to install a Flash blocker. So you are spared endless distracting and CPU wasting Flash ads. Of course this also means you will miss Flash based videos and Flash games. But there are lots of other ways to see porn and there are plenty of App store games.

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