Revisiting the iPad checklist

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the future of the iPad. Last Wednesday, for example, Thomas Brand over at Egg Freckles linked to no fewer than four ruminations, ranging from doom-and-gloom to now-wait-just-a-minute.

All of this was spurred, no doubt, by the 16% drop in sales year-over-year reported in late April.

iPad sales table

Tim Cook explained the drop as an quirk of accounting and supply but still considered the quarter to be flat. Whether flat or down, a slackening of demand1 for iPads shouldn’t have been surprising to anyone who saw the S-shaped sales curve Cook showed back in October.

iPad S curve

So maybe the iPad won’t take over all of computing the way some people were saying a year or two ago. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a success, and it doesn’t mean it’ll go the way of netbooks. For millions of people—my wife, for example—the iPad is the perfect computer.

When he introduced the iPad four and a half years ago, Steve Jobs said there were seven tasks it had to be better at than either a notebook computer or a smartphone:

Seven tasks

With the iPad’s value in question, and with four years of iPad experience under our collective belt, I think this checklist should be revisited. Is it better at these tasks? Are these even the tasks we should be looking at?2

I, of course, am not the person to be making this assessment, as I’m not an iPad user. I decided in 2010 that there wasn’t room in my life for a middle ground device, and nothing (not even Editorial) has led me to change my mind. While the iPad may be better at many of these tasks, it isn’t enough better.

But I am curious about what others have to say. Federico Viticci, for example, never tires of telling us how he prefers the iPad to the Mac and usually includes specific details of his own use. Jared Sinclair, in a relentlessly negative post,3 mentioned all of Jobs’s points. I’d like to see more like this—discussion of the pros and cons of the iPad as it is used—and fewer half-baked speculations on the future of computing.

  1. I’m not sure what the best term is for a negative second derivative of sales, but that’s what I mean. 

  2. Music seemed like a dubious entry to me even before the iPad was released

  3. Except when it comes to assuring his Unread customers that he really thinks the iPad is great for reading.