What Does the iPad 2 Mean for Publishers, Exactly?
When it announced the latest iteration of its market-leading tablet device yesterday, Apple did what it does best—take a cool device and present it to the world with an air of excitement suggesting we are being guided to a new, heretofore uncharted shore. (It helped that CEO Steve Jobs was unexpectedly back at the helm.)
But has the world really changed for publishers in the wake (to continue the nautical imagery) of the iPad 2? (The short answer: Not really.) Publishing Executive Inbox asked Jennifer L. Jacobson, director of public relations for consumer electronics shopping website Retrevo, for her take on the tablet.
INBOX: With its slimmer size, lighter weight and faster dual-core A5 chip—as well as new hardware and software capabilities—some are calling the i Pad 2 an important leap forward, while others are saying it's not that big a deal. What's your opinion?
JENNIFER JACOBSON: While Apple did make the new iPad lighter, and gave it the ability to project, it's still not a complete tablet computer. There's still no way to store files outside of an app on the device, and it still lacks wireless sync. There are additional improvements Apple could have made, like better resolution, more storage and more ports. All in all, the improvements made to the iPad hardly merit the title of Second Generation for the device. It's more like the "iPad 1.5."
While I'm sure these upgrades will entice some newbies to jump on the iPad bandwagon, I don't anticipate many iPad 1 owners to upgrade. I anticipate the iPad 3 to have far more to love as well as unique apps that won't run on the iPad 1.
INBOX: Your colleague at Retrevo, Andrew Eisner, believes Google's Android OS for tablet devices, Honeycomb, has a multitasking edge over Apple's Tablet OS because it features a multitasking bar, which makes it easy to check in on other apps. Does the iPad 2 address any of those multitasking deficiencies?
JACOBSON: The iPad 2 does not address any of the multitasking abilities; it will simply do what the iPad 1 does, but faster. The sdk [software development kit for app developers] is still written for one CPU [a single core processor]. It will still have the same "pause" functionality for all but a few functions including background downloading, messaging, voice, audio, etc.
INBOX: You've said of the iPad and other tablets, "Be a Real Computer. Get A Real OS. Let's face it, having an app for 'settings' is a little over the top. Let's give the iPad an 'app free' way to store files ... like a real computer." So I guess the iPad 2 doesn't really address this?
JACOBSON: When it comes to current tablet computers in the same price range as the iPad, there are still great improvements that could be made toward making the devices function more like traditional computers.
INBOX: Up to this point, Apple has driven the tablet market. What's one thing other tablet makers need to do to make it worth publishers' time and money to develop apps for them?
JACOBSON: At this point, manufacturers of full-fledged tablet computers (like the Dell Latitude, typically costing between $2,000 - $3,000 and weighing a little more than the MacBook Air) could benefit from focusing on the enterprise space. Medical professionals, for example, don't need a device that's great at surfing the Web and playing Angry Birds. They need a real computer in tablet form.