Not since the IBM PC was developed has a computer hit the market that can change the way we view the world. While people talk about Apple’s Tablet PC, the iPAD, being a competitor to the notebook, there are larger implications. The iPad is the first computer that can change the way we view documents. It combines the visual appeal of print and the interaction of the web together in a way no product has done before. The iPAD is the first step into a paperless world where all documents are viewed as data.
In the first 28 days since its release, Apple sold one million iPADS. This figure is even higher than iPHONE sales when it was launched. The iPAD succeeds where previous products such as Amazon Kindle have failed, but it was not greeted with universal approval when launched. “Isn’t it just a big iPHONE?” was the most common remark, whilst others tagged it ‘iLAME’. The popular Dom Jolly mobile phone sketch has even been recreated, using the iPAD. The iPAD name, which Apple purchased from Fujitsu, has also been the butt of jokes on twitter, where users made fun of its resemblance to a feminine hygiene product. One twitter user posted “I am already going through 4 – 5 iPADS a day due to my heavy workflow”. However, Apple have a loyal following in desktop publishing with the Steve Jobs/Jef Raskin Apple Mac, and the iPAD appears to be exactly what Apple fans have been waiting for.
The tablet PC has been around for a while. Bill Gates’s Microsoft made the term popular in 2001 when it launched Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. HP-Compaq developed the TC1100 series. In 2007 Axiotron produced a Modbook, this was a heavily modified Apple MacBook Tablet. Frontpath manufactured a Linux based tablet called the ProGear.
The iPAD is the start of a new era that will see the transition from Print to Pixels, bringing the worlds of print and web publishing together. Impressive pages can now be created using interaction, animation and video streaming. Typography and design will no longer be compromised. Notebooks don’t offer the same portability of the iPAD, and the iPAD is the best in the field for screen based reading.
Printers and Photocopiers could become a thing of the past in a few years with less and less output to paper. Books, newspapers and magazines will be completely reinvented online. By changing how we read documents, Apple have created the next big hardware battle. Already Chinese manufactured iPAD clones, working on Google’s Android Software, have started to appear. Microsoft will soon be releasing Microsoft Courier, a seven inch dual screen booklet that will propel Microsoft further into hardware manufacture, following on from Zune and Xbox.
The battle for the Screen Based Reader audience is unlikely to be defined by the operating system but by the hardware itself. Imagine a iPAD that is wafer thin and you can roll up and put in your back pocket like a magazine. That is what the future holds.
Flexible display technology is close to production with a team in Ireland close to a touch screen prototype. Samsung unveiled their 7 inch flexible LCD screen in 2005 and Fujitsu have a 3.8 inch flexible LCD panel that does not require a power supply. The flexible screen technology that will soon be available to us will be the tool that finally turns users away from paper based publishing. Apple have won ’round one’ of the screen based reader and have brought their product to market before Microsoft’s Courier, but this hardware battle has a long way to run. Google have already produced the Nexus One, an internet mobile dubbed the Google Phone, and the Android operating system may yet enter into screen based readers as well. Amazon potentially have the most to lose if the iPAD continues to grow, with Apple’s iBOOKS directly competing with another part of their core business, following the success of iTUNES, so presence in the screen reader market will be essential for Amazon.
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About The Author
Jennifer Robinson writes for Online Connect UK, suppliers of document management systems and photocopiers visit their website at http://www.onlineconnect.co.uk