Wednesday, August 11, 2010

With PC Sales Down, What Does iPad Need To Spur Its Downfall

A couple of independent reports out says that the PC market isn't benefiting from the back-to-school rush. On the other hand, Apple's products are still selling well and the recent refresh of its Mac line should continue to spur the hto streak of double digit growth.

What's amazing is that there are indication the iPad is hurting netbook sales and even hurting some low-end laptops. So, what does Apple need to do to make the iPad even more appealing and further cannibalize PC sales?

I'm sure if we sit down and discuss this, we can think of a few things. Multi-tasking is one of them. Right now, the iPad is still stuck on version 3 while I jealously covet the ability to switch between tasks and apps. Oh and the folders are sweet.

But all that will come when Apple decides the time is right to bump up up to iOS 4. However, when the time comes, I love to see a few features that might make the iPad stand out ever more than the various vaporware tablets as well as further cannibalize Windows PC.
  • Printing - Steve Jobs had said that it's coming. Well, it needs to come now. For business users, the ability to print wireless is a must. Oh, and students can send in their papers over e-mail, not all the teachers and professors are as up-to-date on the latest tech, even if it's as simple as opening an attachment.
  • Split screen - this is multitasking of a different nature. The iPad screen is big enough for us to split the screen to allow two or more apps to run in tandem. I can think of a few uses for this.
  • A new keyboard layout - I like something more of a split keyboard layout that allows me to type more easily with my thumbs. Sometimes, I feel I can type faster and more accurate on the iPhone. I love to be able to do that on the iPad. However, in portrait and especially landscape mode, it's a bit hard to do that. I lack freakisly big thumbs.
  • Ability to display status for various information on the tool bar. Right now, the tool bar is pretty bare. Time, battery indicator, the word "iPad", the wireless connection (WiFi strength, or the 3G bars if you've got a 3G iPad). There is plenty of room for users to touch and have drop down menus. On the Android, you can drag down the whole bar to look at the indicator but that isn't necessarily. I rather have a touch-and-drop menu
  • I like to see the "Reader" function on the mobile Safari as on the desktop version. Honestly, until the current version of the Safari, I tend to just scan post headlines and rarely finish an article because it can get so distracting. With the Reader feature, I'm reading the whole posts now. This is necessarily a killer feature that the iPad must have to vanquish the PC but it's one that I think students or anyone who goes onto the Web to retrieve information can appreciate.
  • Though Apple cannot do anything about this version of the iPad, I love to see a few hardware changes and add-ons with the next iPad. I can go on and on about what I want. Camera for Facetime, a less restrictive USB support, etc. But what I really want is an even longer battery life. I have yet to find the 11.5 hours I generally get on my iPad lack but it is always better to get more out of it. 12-15 hours would really blow away the competition.
  • Widgets. I love to see them for the iOS devices. But on the iPad, I like to be able to have some information stream on the desktop. My RSS and Twitter feeds. They have become indispensable assets to my work and staying updated on the latest news. For others, they might be interested in Facebook updates. Widgets might come later when HTML 5 becomes more mature. Nevertheless, this is a request I like to make now.
  • Expose. Anyone who has a Mac knows what I'm talking about. The Expose combined with apps and widgets would be a powerful tool for anyone who uses their iPads for productivity.
I've mentioned a few that quickly comes to mind. I think the most important one is also the first one I mentioned. The iPad has Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi. To be able to print out documents like contracts, invoices, or homework will go pretty far in getting even more mobile warriors to appreciate the kind of mobile computing experience the iPad provides.

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