I think I’m right about iPad killers: there aren’t any yet

Reviews of the various so-called iPad killers have been disappointing. I think I know why.

manufacturers appear to be looking at the wrong things. They’re like musicians who think buying a Gibson Les Paul will turn them into Jimmy Page, or that being a big gobby pain in the arse makes them Bono.

What makes the iPad special isn’t the hardware. It’s the software.

My esteemed colleague Craig Grannell agrees with me and adds something I really wish I’d thought of:

It’s telling that most of the top-selling apps on Android are admin tools, whereas on iOS they’re games, entertainment apps and productivity tools.

11 thoughts on “I think I’m right about iPad killers: there aren’t any yet

  1. mupwangle says:

    >>It’s telling that most of the top-selling apps on Android are admin tools, whereas on iOS they’re games, entertainment apps and productivity tools.

    I can’t agree with that at all. You can’t argue that applications which either add functionality, change functionality or allow customisations that are banned on the iPhone are all “admin tools”. There’ll be at least one power management app, I grant you, but the majority will be wallpapers/skins, alternate launchers and keyboards, etc. The fact that these are not big sellers on iOS is misleading as I wouldn’t be surprised if they were high sellers if they were allowed. It annoyed me that I couldn’t customise the iphone other than moving icons around. The folders thing only became available in iOS4 – that sort of thing could have been added by 3rd parties, if they were allowed. Using the same data it’s arguable that Apple are being deliberately obstructive as the market must want to be able to play around with this sort of stuff. If you look at the most downloaded PC and Mac applications they will include compression tools, skinners, wallpapers, screensavers, anti-virus and the like. Apparently these must also be admin tools. It also shows that people like to express some sort of individuality on their computers by not sticking to the same wallpapers, colours, keyboard and everything else that everyone has.

  2. Gary says:

    > The fact that these are not big sellers on iOS is misleading as I wouldn’t be surprised if they were high sellers if they were allowed.

    I’m treading carefully here because we’ve fallen out about this before. However, that’s something you have no way of knowing because they *aren’t* allowed. The Android side says that’s because Apple control freak blah blah bla, the Apple side that they’re not needed blah blah blah :)

  3. mupwangle says:

    >>I’m treading carefully here because we’ve fallen out about this before.

    Don’t be silly. We fell out because you were in a bad mood and I took offence. Totally different. :-)

    >>However, that’s something you have no way of knowing because they *aren’t* allowed.

    Exactly my point. You can’t criticise one platform for a fair proportion of it’s apps being of a type that’s banned on the other platform. There is no way of telling that android users want these apps more than iphone users when they aren’t available to both. Personally I would have liked the ability to change certain non-critical parts of the UI, but if Apple don’t offer it then they see it as impinging their IP. I’m not an android fanboi, nor an apple one. I see the flaws in both (the dealbreaker for me with the ipad is lack of removable storage – it’s ideal application is photography, for example, yet you can’t upload pictures to it or offload them onto removable media. And for no obvious reason – it also annoyed me about the iphone, but it was less important and much cheaper too) and android’s biggest issue (despite techradar commentors pretending it’s not true) is that it’s power management is woefully crap.

    Android is getting there, gradually. It’s fragmentation isn’t doing anyone any favours (and that, to me, is the OEM’s fault since the source code is available). Android 3 will be optimised for tablets and should be better.

    At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if iOS or Android are actually any good. In the same way that the iPhone made companies like HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Google et al up their game a bit, the presence of Android makes sure that Apple (Despite probably wanting to) can’t rest on their laurels. iOS will push Android into new cool stuff and vice versa. Everybody wins. Unless you’re stuck with an iPhone 3g or one of the Android 1.6 phones, in which case you should probably stop readin tech blogs. ;-)

  4. G24 says:

    It’s definitely the software – iOS and apps – that make all the difference between the ‘pads. Not size, specs or tinkerability. iPad is mighty useful without any apps but when you start loading up, it really takes you to another level.

    I’m not easily wowed, but I still find apps which do just that – leave me thinking ‘wow’. This month’s corkers include TuneIn Radio and the truly fantastic Aweditorium music discovery app. Before anyone points out that you can – kind of – cover the same ground elsewhere, like on web sites or desktop apps, that’s not the point. These apps take it to another level because of their interfaces, the iPad form factor and overall UX.

    As for iOS being locked down, well that’s proving to be a good thing. It’s not what some of us want, but for the vast majority, a consistent and stable UX is far more important than novelty customisations. Android is badly fragged and still some way off being the tablet OS we want to see nipping at Apple’s heels. iOS by contrast is remarkably consistent across a range of different devices (ok, all Apple), the monetisation options are thoroughly sorted and all this makes it a great platform for apps.

    You can debate why Android and iOS app stores have a particular bias, but the end result is slightly different regardless of the reason. Apple is doing some filtering for sure yet a lot of weak apps still get through so they’re not totally controlling. What they have managed to do is keep the really dodgy crap out, encourage a consistently good standard and provide a platform for real innovation.

    Are there parallels to be drawn between Windows vs Apple in the 80’s and Android vs Apple/iOS in the tenties? Could Apple continue to dominate despite the more open competition looming? The masses want great consumer products – Apple has been plugging away it that since the early days and now they’ve joined up all the dots and embarrassed some big players. Or, a wider choice of slightly cheaper hardware with a massive choice of crapware to run on it – is that going to win out again this time around?

  5. Gary says:

    > iOS will push Android into new cool stuff and vice versa. Everybody wins.

    Yes, that’s true and important I think.

    You’re right about the lack of storage on the iPad too. It’s something that becomes a problem more quickly than you’d think because you start using it for more things than you’d expect. My one’s a sixteen-gig and it’s stuffed already.

    It’d be nice to have the iPad as the centrepiece of a home media network. That’s where it’s heading, but it isn’t there yet. What I’d *really* like is for Time Capsule to be a home media streamer to iPad, Apple TV, whatever.

  6. Gary says:

    > As for iOS being locked down, well that’s proving to be a good thing. It’s not what some of us want, but for the vast majority, a consistent and stable UX is far more important than novelty customisations.

    One of the things I’m finding incredibly annoying is how crashy some apps are – not the Apple ones, of course. It’s a reminder that closed might restrict choice, but it does guarantee a certain level of experience. You can’t stuff Mobile Safari with plugins, so it stays solid in a way Safari-style apps (and desktop safari) aren’t.

  7. mupwangle says:

    I would agree were apple not so intent on making it hard for rivals to their own applications to be available.

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