Apple’s new iPad seen as a game-changing ‘breakthrough’

The Apple 'iPad,' a new tablet computing device, is shown in this publicity photo from Apple released to Reuters on Wednesday.

The Apple ‘iPad,’ a new tablet computing device, is shown in this publicity photo from Apple released to Reuters on Wednesday.

Photograph by: Apple Inc. handout, Reuters

VANCOUVER — Apple’s new iPad is a game changer for publishing, education and other sectors, including Canada’s wireless carriers that could find consumers snapping up the device that Apple is selling without having it locked into any network service.

It could take some time for the full implications of the new device that Apple CEO Steve Jobs described as “so much more intimate than a laptop” and “so much more capable than a smartphone” to be felt, but experts and industry watchers say it could change the way we work and play just as the iPod brought MP3 music to the masses and the iPhone catapulted smartphones into the mainstream market.

While Canada’s major carriers were mum Wednesday when asked if they have plans to introduce the iPad on their networks, Richard Smith, professor in Simon Fraser University’s school of communication, said Jobs’s move to end the subsidy model that locks consumers into long-term contracts with wireless carriers could change the way Canadians buy wireless devices.

“Apple is disrupting their business model which is to lock people into three-year plans,” said Smith. “There is no subsidy; Apple is just selling it as it is.

“It is very disruptive. It could be a year from now people will say, ‘So you have a contract with your phone, what’s that all about?’ People will wonder why did you ever bother doing that.

“It is very scary for phone companies.”

Not scary for Anthony Lacavera, chairman of Globalive, a newcomer to the wireless market with its Wind Mobile that is taking on the incumbents by giving consumers the option of no-contract, unlimited mobile voice and data service. Lacavera sees the new iPad as a potential win for his company.

“I think it’s another breakthrough for Apple,” he said. “I think it is an amazing device.

“One of the things that is fantastic about our offerings is we are out there with truly unlimited data plans. One of the reasons we designed our plan and our network to be able to handle unlimited data was because of devices like the iPad.

“We obviously want our customers to be able to use devices like the iPad without worrying, ‘Am I going to get a $300 bill.’”

Lacavera said he expects Wind service to be launched in Vancouver in March or April. It was launched recently in Toronto and Calgary. Lacavera said he can’t confirm whether or not the 3G version of the iPad will work on the Wind network, but he expects it will.

“We believe that it will, it certainly will at some point,” he said. “Apple has not released details on that that we can find. They did say any network.”

Wind’s unlimited data offering is $35 a month, considerably lower than other Canadian carriers. However, that only applies to Wind coverage areas, so outside of those centres Lacavera said roaming charges would apply amounting to 30 to 50 cents per megabyte.

Canadian pricing hasn’t been announced, but Apple starts releasing the first of its iPads — the Wi-Fi model — in 60 days, starting at $499 US for a 16 gigabyte version. Jobs said the 3G model will come another month later, with the top 3G-enabled iPad to sell at $829 US. Google’s new Nexus phone is also being sold as a stand-alone without being locked into a carrier contract, and Lacavera said some Wind customers are already reporting they are using it on the Wind network.

While unveiling the long-awaited device, Jobs suggested that since it wouldn’t be locked into any carrier, the 3G iPad could be sold to people outside the United States.

A year or two from now Wayne MacPhail, journalism professor at Ryerson University and president of the marketing and communications company w8nc, said he expects to see his classroom full of iPads.

“I think in a year, two years’ time I’m going to look out to a classroom of students who all have these things,” he said.

“They have done an outstanding job on the price.”

MacPhail is among those who see the iPad as a Kindle killer.

“As I said on Twitter, the Kindle looks like a one-trick pony on its way to the glue factory right now,” MacPhail said.

Jobs also took a shot at netbooks in his presentation — “the problem is netbooks aren’t better at anything,” he said, evoking laughter from the audience. MacPhail said the iPad “kicks a hole in the netbook market.”

“The experience of running an iPad versus a cheap netbook running Windows XP — there won’t be any comparison,” he said.

Apple’s addition of the optional keyboard to go with the iPad is the final blow for netbooks.

“If you can throw a keyboard on there you have basically a baby iMac, so there goes the need for a laptop,” said MacPhail.

Power user and self-described “Apple fanboy” Warren Frey wasn’t overly impressed by the highly hyped release. Even though he bought an iPhone in the U.S. before it arrived in Canada, unwilling to wait for the device to be offered here, and he has a MacBook Pro, he’s in no similar rush to get an iPad.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he said, adding that while the new iPad seems to be all about bringing content in, it is less about creating it.

“As a content producer myself, I do a lot of high-end video for the Web,” said Frey, whose company Freyburg Media is a video production boutique in Vancouver’s Yaletown. The iPad isn’t up to the high end video editing that Frey needs, and since he already has an iPhone, he doesn’t want to pay for another in-between device,

“I can do a lot of this stuff on the iPhone,” he said of the iPad functions. “It’s not ideal but it’s also not another 600 bucks out of my pocket.

“It’s by no means a bad device, I just don’t know if I’m the target for it.”

Alfred Hermida, a professor who leads the integrated journalism program at the University of B.C.’s graduate school of journalism said while there may have been too much hype around the release of the iPad, its impact will be long-term.

“We have a tendency to underestimate the long-term impact of these kinds of devices,” he said. “What Apple does really well is combine form and function.”

It’s not only the device but what people will be able to do with it that will deliver the long-term impact from the iPad.

“It is less about the hardware and much more about the user experience,” said Hermida. “One thing is the delivery system, the technology and the other thing is what we do with these devices.”

Just as the iPhone has much less impact than the iPhone combined with Apple’s app store, it is the e-bookstore, iTunes, the app store and other potential functions that will make the iPad transformative for behaviour — and not just a cool-looking device.

“I think is where the game changer is coming,” said Hermida.

Content producers, whether they are in the business of publishing newspapers — one area that is looking to Apple’s new innovation as a saviour from diminishing revenue and readership — or in the business of books, will have to adapt if they are to maximize the potential of the iPad.

For textbooks, Hermida said that means transforming them into dynamic multimedia products that can be updated and enriched with content that goes beyond basic text.

“It is not about replicating the print experience but about creating new experiences,” he said.

Pete Quily, an adult ADHD coach, who is a longtime Apple fan and who once sold Apple computers, said aside from the name — which he predicts will elicit jokes for some time before people stop laughing — the new iPad “is pretty amazing.”

“The future really is something like this,” he said. “It’s kind of a game changer.

“Yes you can surf the web on your iPhone and it’s cool, but this is 10 inches of real estate versus the screen on your iPhone.

“Apple has really thought this out. They have worked with content providers and anyone who is producing long-form content really wants to get a handle on this.

“The smart media companies will want to take a long hard look at this and what can be done with it.”

CourseSmart, an e-textbook publisher, is already anticipating the iPad will make e-textbooks the norm.

“We have seen there are lots of students out there interested in e-textbooks; our sales in 2009 were 400-per-cent higher than in 2008,” said Frank Lyman, executive vice-president of CourseSmart.

“I think this device will really take that to the next level, this will take that to a whole other group of people out there who will say, ‘Why aren’t my textbooks digital.’”

Lyman said the Kindle “user experience just isn’t what college students want.”

“This is going to unlock a whole new group of students who aren’t already using e-books,” he said.

gshaw@vancouversun.com

Read Gillian Shaw’s blog at www.vancouversun.com/digitallife

Posted via web from Toronto Real Estate News | Blog

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