I will disclaim that I am a fan of almost all products made by Apple. I often try not to read any information on the days of product launches and instead wait until I can get the video and actually watch Steve (Jobs) sell me on why I need the next big thing. However, when I watched the iPad launch, I felt… well, underwhelmed.
Time has since passed and having used an iPad I can definitely see a use for it. It’s convenient, intuitive and most of all necessary. Ok, I probably had you right up until necessary right?
Most post I’ve read are arguing about the convenience of this device vs a laptop or even a smartphone, that the lack of multitasking kills the usefulness, or that they can’t adapt to the keyboard. That’s well covered everywhere else and I don’t have the background to weigh in on those concerns.
For the average user (I’m going to put that number at 80-90% of people using some personal computing device) whatever they have for a pc or laptop does far more than they need. The openness of those systems, flexibility, the power to meet most any need make it challenging for the casual user to maintain and have meet their needs. Power users will have specific applications that require more advanced hardware and in doing so, they sign themselves up for the challenges of maintaining that device. Netbooks were the first (dare I say feeble) attempt to fill this market space. They were something inexpensive that gave people access to the Internet and allowed them to send and receive email. Good concept, poor execution.
Along came the iPad. After giving it some thought, I think the iPad is exactly what we need.
Allow me to digress… Every day I learn something. Being in Information Security, usually that’s something that makes it more difficult for me to sleep at night. Vulnerabilities increase, threats become more aggressive and better at defeating security measures, and I begin to wonder if we aren’t fighting a losing battle.
Which makes me wonder… What if… What if the iPad really is what we need?
A constrained device (yes this is a good thing), with controlled application deployment (yes still a good thing), where all applications have very limited access to the operating system? I say, yes. Absolutely. PLEASE! There is a tremendous market for this (which Apple certainly knows). Many more tech savvy users are screaming blasphemy as their screens as they read this, however having a PC with unlimited capabilities, interfaces, and expand-ability is only a requirement for a percentage of users (and I dare say that percentage is probably lower than most initial guesses). Even those users, as intelligent and well intentioned as they may be, tend to do things that allow themselves to be compromised everyday. Trust me, I see it.
The majority of users want a simple device that works and can offer some level of assurance of stability and data protection. Remember “it just works!” 🙂
No more OS patches that break applications (well not the ones that Apple is allowing on the device anyway), no more security applications that accidentally break the operating system (hello McAfee? hows that XP thing going for you?), just a highly controlled computing environment that’s set up to meet the needs of most users. Most users are not aware of these issues anyway and honestly don’t want to be bothered. They often only find out about much of this once they’ve experienced a significant system issue and even then, they don’t care, they just want their system back and working.
Will these devices eventually become as much of a target as “normal” systems? Probably. But I believe they are well suited to be managed more easily and better protected from threats. They will be more limited in function than a PC, yes, but the end users will express a higher satisfaction rate regardless.
While everyone will continue to argue over the size, shape, wether or not it has a camera or can be a giant phone. I say they’ve missed the point. We really do have a game changer here.