Three screens, that's all iWant
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iPad: What's next?
Journalist Grig Davidovitz says the iPad shouldn't be judged as a new device between the laptop and the smartphone, but as a semi-independent component of the future laptop. Done responding to office emails, and wishing to relax a bit while surfing the web? Not a problem – detach the screen and surf while enjoying a wonderful hands only UI.
By Grig Davidovitz
Is the iPad a good thing? Is it bad? Something is missing in the discussion on the quality of the new Apple product. The problem is that this week, in San Francisco, it was presented as - quoting The New York Times - “something between a laptop and a smartphone.” In the words of Steve Jobs: “It’s so much more intimate than a laptop, and it’s so much more capable than a smartphone, with its gorgeous screen.”
Television, desktop, laptop, tablet, ebook reader, music player, smartphone, camera – is anyone really thinking that in the future people will be walking electronic warehouses? The future has room for basically three screens only: the TV, a big screen viewed from a distance in a relatively passive mode, sometimes with other people; the laptop, an interactive station for consumption and creation of information; and the smartphone, the mobile extension of the other two, and the main communication hub. A stereotypic sketch of the consumer's position with each of these screens would show a person lounging on a sofa in front of a TV; an active laptop user, promptly sitting near a desk; and a smarthpone user interacting with the device while commuting.
What will happen then to the iPad? Like all the other devices on the long list above it will merge with its closest screen – in this case, the laptop. Imagine a laptop screen that can be disconnected from the “mother ship” and can operate independently , very much like an iPad. Done responding to office emails, and wishing to relax a bit while surfing the web? Not a problem – detach the screen and surf while enjoying a wonderful hands only UI.
Apple already made its first step in this direction when it introduced together with the iPad a keyboard kit that can theoretically turn the iPad into a laptop. But for now they have still a long way to go: the iPad connects to the keyboard vertically (see picture) while the normal screens are horizontal; basic ports like USB are missing (they can be connected to the keyboard, like to the iPad itself, with a connection kit sold separately); the iPad's operating system can not multitask; and finally, connecting the iPad to the keyboard adds nothing to its storage capabilities that sum up to a modest 16 to 64 Giga.
All these problems can be easily solved, and some of them may even solve themselves. Take the storage capability, for instance. These very days Google is working on a new Operating System that will move much of the data storage and the CPU capabilities to the “internet cloud”. If this will be the case, then the personal computers can go back to being simple terminals, like in the “main frame” days. Their most important quality then will be their input/output abilities – how they present information and how they receive it.
On this battlefield it will be extremely difficult to beat the iPad concept.
Grig Davidovitz is a journalist and new media consultant, specializing in developing journalism in the new media age firstname.lastname@example.org, www.twitter.com/grigdav