Ben Thompson: The Tragic iPad https://stratechery.com/2020/the-ipad-at-10-the-ipad-disappointment-ipads-missing-ecosystem/: 'John Gruber is disappointed in the current state of the iPad.... "I don’t think the iPad has come close to living up to its potential. By the time the Mac turned 10, it had redefined multiple industries. In 1984 almost no graphic designers or illustrators were using computers for work. By 1994 almost all graphic designers and illustrators were using computers for work. The Mac was a revolution. The iPhone was a revolution. The iPad has been a spectacular success, and to tens of millions it is a beloved part of their daily lives, but it has, to date, fallen short of revolutionary…. Software is where the iPad has gotten lost. iPadOS’s “multitasking” model is far more capable than the iPhone’s, yes, but somehow Apple has painted it into a corner in which it is far less consistent and coherent than the Mac’s, while also being far less capable. iPad multitasking: more complex, less powerful. That’s quite a combination..." I could not agree more with Gruber’s critique. In my opinion, multi-tasking on the iPad is an absolute mess, and it has ruined the entire interface; I actively dislike using the iPad now, and use it exclusively to watch video and make the drawings for Stratechery. Its saving grace is that it is hard to discover.... There are, needless to say, no companies built on the iPad that are worth anything approaching $1 billion in 2020 dollars, much less in 1994 dollars, even as the total addressable market has exploded, and one big reason is that $4.99 price point. Apple set the standard that highly complex, innovative software that was only possible on the iPad could only ever earn 5 bucks from a customer forever (updates, of course, were free). This remains one of Apple’s biggest mistakes.... Being a great platform for developers is about more than having a well-developed SDK, or an App Store: what is most important is ensuring that said developers have access to sustainable business models that justify building the sort of complicated apps that transform the iPad’s glass into something indispensable. That simply isn’t the case on iOS. Note carefully the apps that succeed on the iPhone in particular: either the apps are ad-supported (including the social networks that dominate usage) or they are a specific type of game that utilizes in-app purchasing to sell consumables to a relatively small number of digital whales. Neither type of app is appreciably better on an iPad than on an iPhone; given the former’s inferior portability they are in fact worse. A very small number of apps are better on the iPad though: Paper, the app used to create the illustrations on this blog, is a brilliantly conceived digital whiteboard that unfortunately makes no money.... Garageband and iMovie are spectacular, but neither has the burden of making money.... To be fair, would that we all could “fail” like the iPad; it was an $11 billion business last fiscal year, more than double the size of the Mac. That, though, is why I did not call it a failure: the tragedy of the iPad is not that it flopped, it is that it never did, and likely never will, reach that potential so clearly seen ten years ago...


#noted #2020-02-29

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