The One Thing That Even Techies Haven’t Figured Out About The iPad

Jun 15th, 2010 | By | Category: Apple iPad

Beta News’ Joe Wilcox is eating his words today, saying “I was wrong about Apple iPad”.

He was a vocal critic of the iPad when it was announced, like most tech analysts, arguing that the world doesn’t need the iPad or any other tablet.

After using it though, he’s come to a different conclusion:

The iPad is a remedy for distraction while letting users reap the Internet’s benefits. Apple marketing material makes audacious claims: “iPad is the best way to experience the Web” .

I initially dismissed these claims as marketing fluff, but on reconsideration actually see meaning to them. There is something immersive about consuming content on iPad that does change the Web experience — and that of other media.

Wilcox is brave to announce his change of opinion on the iPad. But, like a lot of people, Wilcox is still missing the bigger picture.

With the iPad, Apple is forking the Web. It’s not just creating a new “way to experience the Web”, but a platform that competes with the Web itself.

The iPad Forks The Web

The iPad’s raison d’etre is forking the Web.

The iPad offers a good Web browser with Safari. But even with Safari, Apple is insisting on forking the Web, making it Flash-free!


The iPad isn’t about Web-applications – it’s about Internet-enabled applications.

Instead of the one-size-fits-all approach of the computer Web browser, Apple is creating a platform of dedicated apps that do one thing really well.

This means:

  • The BBC News app is a wonderful mashup of newspaper, Web and radio on the iPad;
  • Google Maps on the iPad is tactile, interactive, more map-like and gorgeous;
  • Reading USA Today on the iPad combines many of the best features of both print and the Web;
  • Watching YouTube on the iPad is faster and more immersive, because the dedicated app adapts to the context of your actions; and
  • iBooks combines the readability of books with the instant gratification of the Web.

Apple’s also addressing people’s most common worries about the Web:

  • It’s making the iPad porn-free, unless you actually look for it;
  • It’s offering an alternate Internet platform where you can forget about anti-virus software, malicious applications and crapware; and
  • It’s presenting the Internet in a way that’s less scary and confusing than the Web.

Apple is even developing it’s own ad platform for its alternate Web.

Can Apple Fork The Web And Create An AlternaWeb?

Ten years ago, people said that you couldn’t compete with free music on the Web – that digital music stores would never work. Yet Apple created a store that competed with free through innovative design, attention to details and usability.

Now Apple’s competing with the Web itself.

Can Apple really create an alternative to the Web?

A million iPad buyers a month say that Apple’s already doing it.

Is this good or bad for the Internet? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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5 Responses to “The One Thing That Even Techies Haven’t Figured Out About The iPad”

  1. Jonathan kim says:

    Hrm.. U r wrong. You consider iPad competing directly with web. That’s not how you should look at it at all. iPad is creating a content space that publisher can price their contents and exact the cost to the readers. It is different than directly competing. Publishing industry never had that space on the web and they failed miserably to create that space. iPad is one of that space. It will dominate that space. But there is no competition. iPad is designed to interact with both space. Web was designed to be open from the start as such there was no economy built into the space. Without such space that accommodates financial tasaction with content, Market that rejuvenates the industry and keeping it healthy can’t exist. IPad barely managed to open up that space. Web and paid content space will co-exist. Free stuff or ad-paid model are not self sustaining model. What google is doing is very troubling where’s what apple is doing is is future building. But competition will make internet healthier at the end. None the less what google is doing is troubling. It turned evil. It is doing exactly what it will said it will not do. And no apple is not evil yet.

    • James Lewin says:

      Jonathan – Not sure if I follow your logic.

      Apple is creating an independent Internet content platform that offers free and paid content. How is that not forking the Web or competing with the Web?

      And how can you say that ad-supported content is not sustainable, when nearly all commercial Web content is ad-supported.

  2. Having seen one in the flesh I’d say no. When there are say a billion (in US money, or 100 million to everyone else) of them spread around then yeah…but until then it’s still a really niche product with a very noisy support/promotion group. Ditto iPhones/iTouches etc. iPod is the level of ubiquity we are talking…iPad would need to reach that level to even get near what you’re talking about, and in the phone/consumer electronics world 1 million is smallfry.

    iPad = CD-Rom circa late 1990s, it looks very like that. Touch is a nice spin on that, but the content is similar not-that-interactive D&K touch-and-click stuff, apart from the sketching stuff. I think content-creators like newspapers think it’ll save their bacon…having been here before I’m really doubtful.

    Interestingly I’ve been monitoring the useragents for my blog and feed, and it’s single figures for iPhone/iPad OSes. I find it slightly odd people are stressing about HTML5 support for these devices…get 15-20% of my browser agents and I’ll support it and make sure the flash stuffs which are a non-critical part of my blogs work for them…Until then, I just don’t see the audience.

    • arjun says:


      Some good points – but if you think the iPad is like CD-Roms in the 90s, you’re missing the point.

      Apple’s iOS is already a big deal. The platform has 100 million users already. Compare that to the 230 million Internet users in the US, and it’s no wonder companies are taking it seriously.

      What’s probably more important for commercial sites, though, is that the people using iOS devices are a fantastic demographic – high-income first-adopters.

      I have to agree with you on the newspaper comment. Clay Shirky wrote a great article on this last year – basically saying that most of the functions that newspapers provide aren’t valuable anymore. The iPad won’t change that.

  3. Pat says:

    Yes, it does make your web experience better, I believe. It’s not just something you use on your spare time, you can use it everyday as part of your daily life. 🙂

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