Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My pessimistic/realistic apple tablet predictions

So I wanted my next blog post to be a little less controversial but I think I'm about to kick the biggest hornets' nest yet: apple fan-boys. But the next apple announcement is around the corner and I don't have much longer to be a wet blanket.

Note, that I'm basing these predictions completely on apple's track record with first gen devices. This isn't what I want to see happen, just the pattern I'm used to from apple. Also be warned; I'm a bit rant-y.
  1. The product will be too expensive. What did the iPod, iPhone, apple speaker and appleTV all have in common on day one? They looked fun but they were way too expensive to consider actually buying under normal circumstances. In each case multiple hundreds of dollars to expensive. Now, they come down in price eventually (assuming the product isn't discontinued first). And they can get away with the high price because there is a cluster of consumers at the high end of the demand curve that are sufficient to buy all of their initial supply, which is usually pretty small. But I don't think it makes sense to expect a sane price.
  2. Most developers will be locked out, except perhaps in a ridiculously restrictive way. I've heard various predictions on how developers should be excited because they will have a whole new way to make a ton of money. But apple has never let developers make money on their products on day one. And when you are allowed it has to be exactly on their terms. When the iPhone came out it was just assumed that anyone who was buying one would jailbreak because apple had locked it down so much. This is still true with the appleTV. This is the company that made an iPhone that had a recessed headphone jack so the vast majority of third party headphones wouldn't work with it. And the company that disallowed the iPhone podcaster app, allowed it, then re-disallowed it, put it in a three month penalty box, then re-allowed it again.*
  3. Content channels will be incredibly locked down. In fact all content will go through apple. This one seems obvious to me. The appleTV is really the only set top box left that can't stream netflix in the US. Neither the iPhone nor the appleTV have an approved way to play divx files. Their may be a crack in this lockout similar to podcasts on the iPod. But if you want to charge for your content you are going to need to go through apple to get onto their device. And then you'll have to wait (and as I understand it, wait and wait and wait) to get paid by apple. So I expect predictions that this will be the perfect universal content device to be very very wrong.
  4. There will be some incredibly obvious feature that is inexplicably missing. The appleTV doesn't have a tv tuner, and no approved way to add one. The iPhone has had bluetooth from day one but no way to use an external bluetooth keyboard. The iPhone took multiple generations to get cut and paste. The apple mouse still doesn't have a simple second button. (No, that doesn't count. I said a "simple" second button.)
So might these predictions be wrong? Sure, and I hope they are. But if they are wrong it's because apple has decided to alter their behaviour. There are those who expect this to be the perfect universal device that can be crafted into whatever they need a tablet for. I have no idea why they think such a device could ever be a first gen apple product.

*Ok, I need to rant about this a little more. Let me be clear: apple hates developers. I used to think they were generous because they gave away xcode. But then I realized that they aren't giving away xcode, they are exclusively bundling the only IDE that can develop for their platforms with their computers. So as a developer, you are allowed to develop for the iPhone, but to do so you need to buy one of their computers, only develop on that computer, and then seek approval for what you've done to get it into the store. There, I'm done ranting.

No comments: