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back to article Apple iPad – the 'Tickle Me Elmo' of 2010

Apple will sell 12.9 million iPads before the end of this year, according to the market watchers at iSuppli, upping their earlier estimate of 7.1 million "magical and revolutionary" devices. "The iPad is shaping up to be the 'Tickle Me Elmo' of the 2010 holiday season," said iSuppli's Rhoda Alexander in a statement, meaning that …

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Simple?

"Note that simple is neither revolutionary nor magical."

Revolutionary and magical is PRECISELY what simple is. "Simple" means taking something overcomplicated and bloated and reducing it to its core essence. Doing so takes a lot of skill and hard work.

It's very easy just to throw together every feature you can imagine. The difficult part is understanding the underlying requirements and having the insight (and courage of your convictions) to disregard what everyone else is doing to come up with a new and simple way to achieve your goals.

Good design and aesthetics has nothing specifically to do with Apple or iPad, by the way. The same principles apply to any product, whether hardware or software, mass market or niche.

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I like the Tickle Me Elmo comparison

Big fad for about a year, luxury (as in not essential) item that serves pretty much no purpose.

The iPad isn't as irritating as Elmo, however that role is fulfilled by S.Jobs and fanbois.

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Joke

I would buy an iPad if...

I would buy an iPad if Apple brought out a 'Tickle me Steve' app for it!

hehe, you give him a tickle on his belly using the touch screen and he says "hehe haha hoho please stop! It doesn't have reception problems honest! hehe haha hoho you're holding it wrong! hehe haha hoho Please stop! Mind the new liver, please stop hehehehehehahahahahahaha" and so on!

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Anonymous Coward

What about the Adam?

is it just me who has an eye on the arrival of the Adam later this year, or is there something about that which I've missed?

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It's not the form factor

Let's face it, any tablet suffers from similar problems. Can't prop it up, can't place it easily on a lap, input can be tricky, no real keyboard etc etc. So why is the iPad (to my surprise) flying off the shelves? One word.

Design.

Apple do not own the whole hardware stack, they buy in components anyone else could from Intel, LG etc. What they do own is the software stack and they seem to operate under the ethos of "If <thing> cannot be integrated seamlessly and elegantly, then <thing> will not be offered".

So, sure, you get a device that has no USB, no video out, no SD slots etc. But what it does have just works. The Apps Store works flawlessly (although the Law of Jobs and the Walled Garden approach do rankle me), but a user can be pretty sure than anything they install will just work.

MS cannot do this as they need to be all-things-to-all-people, they end up going for the lowest-common-denominator in every area and then cludging together the integration. Apple simply drop the feature.

Open Source may make very good tools (arguably the best in many cases) but with no overriding vision the tools fail miserably to integrate, leaving the user to hack around with config files. Fine if you are a techie, not acceptable if you are a consumer. When someone does enter the Open Source arena and attempts to provide a single vision (e.g. Shuttleowrth, Google[sort-of]), they get torn to shreds for "dumbing it down" by the elite geeks who simply do not understand the real world.

Like 'em or loathe 'em, Apple are giving people the experience they want. They may not be satisfying the geeks, but then geeks are not their market - well-heeled consumers are. Computers are often an appliance (just like a washing machine) - deal with it.

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Bravo!

Well done, this is one of the most coherent and well written comments I've seen on one of these articles.

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Anonymous Coward

One word

Advertising

Relentless, endless, mind-numbing adverts. Everywhere. All the time

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@Anon Coward

You have 7 seconds to tell me why Apple advertising is mind-numbing.

Da-da-dah-da-dummmmm!

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A load of cobblers

"the iPad's future looks bright indeed: shipments of the device will soar to 36.5 million in 2011 and 50.4 million in 2012."

Assuming apple doesn't replace it for a slightly upgraded ipad every year for an extra $100 or £200 for us in Blighty

Buy a laptop for God's sake! It's cheaper and can do more!

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Why settle for a laptop?

For less money than that laptop you can get a much faster desktop with a bigger monitor which can do so much more.

Unless the form factor or some other feature unique to a laptop itself was what attracted you to it but from your own comment I'm sure that's not the case.

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Buy a laptop

I have both an iPad and a laptop and, indeed, I have a desktop.

They're different tools for different jobs (pun intended) albeit with a degree of overlap in functionality. The iPad is surprisingly versatile and has replaced about 85% of my laptop use, but I still use my laptop when I need to do detailed/lengthy content creation, and my desktop when I need the power/speed for compex content creation (rarely - it''s more often just an excuse to get out of the living room and into the study).

IMO a notebook would be useless for me as it can't do the role of a laptop and has none of the advantages of an iPad.

So, all this fuss about "get a notebook/laptop" and "iPads can't do x, y or z" is actually pretty irrelevant and could more usefully be replaced by "choose the right tool for the job and if device x doesn't do the job you want it to do, don't buy it."

It's all a little bit like a having car and a motorbike - you wouldn't necessarily want to use the latter for a long journey with three passengers on a cold and wet day when a car is the clearly more suitable option, but you might want to use it for a quick, unencumbered country spin on a nice sunny day when you have no passengers.

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RE: why settle for a laptop?

Since going from desktop to laptop, i can't believe i didn't switch before

It's easier to transport and doesn't need a load of plugs

It hasn't restricted me in any way from doing what i usually do =]

Basically what im saying is if it costs more than a phone and laptop but can't do as much as either then why buy one?

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@Buy a laptop

I think you confused your terminology somewhere along the way.... a notebook is completely useful to you, as it is a "laptop" - just the more modern name for them. However, a "netbook" would not serve the role of a notebook, as it doesn't have room for an optical drive built in and does not have the performance capabilities of a decent notebook either.

The other option then becomes a Tablet, which takes a smaller notebook/netbook, and adds a flippable display and touch-based input (via either pen or finger, dependant upon the device in question).

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Those sales figures look mighty optimistic to me

I own (and love) an iPad. I used to own (and love - though slightly less) a tablet PC. Both fulfilled a requirement that I personally have, the iPad slightly better, so I'm happy with it.

The reaction to the two amongst people who see them isn't that different. Most non-geeks were/are completely unaware of the existence of the tablet PC, so seeing one of those in the wild used to get almost as much interest and 'what the hell is that what can it do' reaction as the iPad does now. The difference is people have heard of the iPad.

However the reaction is similar in another way. Most people have a little play, and make happy 'shiny-toy' cooing noises, but don't really see an application for themselves that justifies spending any money. So I've spoken a few people who are tempted by the iPad, but probably can't/won't justify spending the cash, and mostly people who quite like it, but don't really see the point. Very similar to my old HP tablet.

Thus I doubt they're going to be selling hundreds of millions of these over the next couple of years. After all, to most people the iPhone is 'free'. The iPad isn't. And it doesn't replace something they already have, it's not a phone, and it really isn't a laptop replacement. So my feeling is the iPad will go down well with Apple fanbois, frustrated tablet PC fanbois, some road-warriors and lovers of shiny tech with cash to spare. That's not going to generate 50m sales in a year!

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@I ain't Spartacus

My experience is similar, though with slight differences. My family, friends, and co-workers who have seen an iPad for the first time typically react in much the same way as you described: "ooh, it's so pretty and futuristic! but what can I do with it? Oh, I already have a laptop/computer/pda/phone/etc."

However, in conversations, it comes up that (being laymen) most of what they use a personal computer can be accomplished on the iPad. Indeed, some have even ventured to purchase one only to come back the next week to extol all the wonderful things that they did during the week-end, while sitting on their couch--and didn't even had to boot-up their PC! These comments are bandied around for a few weeks, and eventually others catch on.

So far a handful of them have bought iPads, but they all the device. I hear their stories of how they use it for simple things, like web browsing and photo management, which is exactly what they used their computers for in the past.

I tell you, a few months of these types of comments going around, and most everybody will end up buying one. At first with trepidation, not knowing what it can offer, but as the mind-share expands into the mainstream, people will just check it out.

It will be big, mark my words.

-dZ.

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@DZ-Jay

Shame on you for using the word 'mindshare'... ;o)

You could be right, your experience is different to mine. I've only had the iPad a month, they've only been out in the UK a couple of weeks longer than that, and I know hardly anyone who's got one. I've met only one person who uses it for business, at a meeting last week, and we had a bit of an iPad love-in. I occasionally fire it up for work stuff, but it's really a tech toy for me.

Even our iPhone evangelist at work (he's still scarred from his WinMo experience bless him...) doesn't see the point in the iPad.

I've got one friend who played with it, and asked me to take it away from him before he succumbed to temptation, as he's not got the cash at the moment, and no one else has shown an interest.

Oh, apart from my Mum. She's in her 70s and not a tech lover, though she does have a PC and an Acer Aspire One (that she never uses). She's had a long play with an iPad, and is tempted, and you're right it would serve her needs of email/web/photo rather well. However she could barely operate it, everyone else just picks it up and plays away with minimal instruction, Mum was really struggling...

So I agree, for her, it's better than the PC that she struggles even more with. But the killer is photos. By not putting a USB port on it, not having an even semi-accessible filesystem and tying it to iTunes, Apple have ruined this market. Email and web people can do, but they can't use it to replace their PC, only to avoid using it, except for their photos, and at that point can they justify the expense?

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@I ain't Spartacus

Sorry for saying "mind-share" comment; I've been too long surrounded by corporate wienies.

Anyway, I don't think the USB port is an issue, specially with the digital camera hook-up kit, which basically allows for any USB device to get connected (but, more importantly, the ever important digital camera).

As for not being able to replace their PC, I know some people for whom the iPad has done just that. Oh, they still own the PC, they just tend to not use it anymore.

My parents are looking to purchase iPads for their grandchildren (my sister's kids). My Mother, specifically, saw one at the Apple store and fell in love with it, yet was confused when she heard comments from friends (non-iPad owners all of them) saying pretty much the same thing you did: It's pretty, but it doesn't do anything that your computer doesn't do already, so it's just a waste of money.

She then called me and I asked her to list the things she uses the computer for: browsing the web (for recipes and online tabloids, of course), online banking, and amazon purchases. That's it. (The grandkids play video games on the computer when they visit, too). I told her that those exact things she can do with an iPad, from the couch, easier and better. Plus e-books (which she was considering looking into), and video games for the grandkids, plus--remember that nifty electronic photo frame you got for Mother's day with the pictures of the kids? that too!

That, and her own experience at the Apple store convinced her. She has a Mac Mini at home, so she's already accustomed to using iTunes, so that won't be a problem.

I hear much the same comments from at least one non-techie lady at the office. She purchased an iPad with trepidation after being told by many people "what's the point? you already have a laptop", and discovered what others have: that it is indeed easier and better than doing those things on the PC, and much more fun. She loves it, and talks to all her friends about it.

Make no mistake, this thing is going to take off, big!

-dZ.

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Tickle me Elmo joke

The HR manager at the "Tickle me Elmo" factors offers a job to a new young lady and then explains here duties to her. She starts the next day.

Well the next day comes and within half an hour of the start of production the foreman is up complaining about the new girl. The whole line has come to a halt because of this girl.

"What's wrong with her?"

"You had better come and see."

The foreman leads the manager to the production line which indeed all backed up. At the front is the new employee with a pile of red velour and a bag of marbles which she is slowly sewing on to each Elmo.

The manager looks stunned for a moment and then bursts out laughing. It is a couple of minutes before he, gasping, regains the power of speech.

"No, no, no" he wheezes. "I told you to give them two test tickles."

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Happy

Groan!

That made me groan but I up-voted it none the less!

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@DZ-Jay

completly agree, other half has a macbook which she uses to use the net, listen to music on itunes and watch films. The only thing she can't do on the ipad is watch dvds, everything else and an ipad is perfect. And she wants one.

Of course, I want her to get one, as I want her macbook..... I mean that with a grin, but in truth I would much rather have the macbook and her the ipad. And it REALLY doesn't matter to her that the macbook can do more.

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@digstar

>> "The only thing she can't do on the ipad is watch dvds, everything else and an ipad is perfect."

My wife has an iPad and she uses it for almost everything--except for playing WoW.

Regarding DVDs, we use Netflix and can stream movies from their site. Also, there's a nifty app called "Air Video" which streams anything from your computer through Wi-Fi, including DVDs!

-dZ.

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application ecosystem?

I love my iPad, but what made me pay the Ferrari price wasn't the applications available for it.

Or rather, it was but the applications were iBooks, Mail, Calendar, Safari, iPod, etc...

I really don't want a different application, each with it's own illusions of great modern design,for every newspapers/magazines/tv channel/comic book publisher I follow/subscribe.

There are some valid cases,like GPS, Office Productivity, Games, etc but it's getting to the silly side when you see application after application that is just a different interface to a web site.

How many applications do we have on average in a PC?

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iSuppli spouting fatuous bs again

Someone really needs to cut off their oxygen suppli.

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