As much as I love esoteric computer languages and UNIX, I don't consider those to be the paragons of the promise of computers.
EDIT: "We would like the Dynabook to have the flexibility and generality of this second kind of item[paper or clay], combined with tools which have the power of the first kind[cars, television sets]." I'd say they were aiming for inspiration AND power. I'd also argue that inspiration without power is worthless...
When I look at a shitty netbook what am I supposed to be inspired about? Tinkering with Linux is no future of computing- it's nigh time to get out of that pipe dream.
Though, I expect and look forward to Linux to be installed on the thing within two weeks of it getting to the stores ;)
People still need more heavy-duty computers to do those other things as well as for non-leisure stuff. The advantage of an iPhone was that it was extremely portable and you could just pull it out on the bus to pass the time.
The iPad is barely more portable than a laptop, and much less functional. I guess reliability of the machine is greater since it's so stripped down. Other than that, I don't see what's so special.
I heartily disagree. There's a big difference, huge difference between "can barely" and "does it really fucking well". The iPad shoots for the latter (we'll see if it hits), the netbook's mere existence is predicated on the former.
If your definition of "can do the same" means "someone willing to bang their head hard enough and willing to live with a substandard user experience can do it", sure. But IMHO we need to strive for a higher standard than that.
After the iPod, the Mac, and the iPhone, I don't think geeks still get why Apple is successful: they build devices that normal people actually want. I think there is some collective head-in-the-sand in the geek community because what people apparently want is not at all like what geeks want. The average user doesn't want freedom, doesn't want an open kernel, doesn't give a shit about standards, they want to have a slick, usable, and intuitive user experience, and so far netbooks are failing hard at it.
The average user doesn't want the ability to hunt down zip files on obscure websites, downloading the file, and being able to run whatever app is inside. They like having a central place where all apps in the universe reside. This may or may not be good for the industry as a whole, but it is what our users desire.
IMHO the constant spec-based wankery is why nobody has yet caught up with Apple. I'm seeing a lot of internet chatter about how netbooks do more (does more, poorly), how the cost is too high, how the CPU is too slow, blah blah blah, but conveniently ignores what is IMHO the one defining reason Apple has succeeded in the last decade: user interface.
"My Android phone isn't locked down!" <-- Your Android phone also crashes all the time, emits strange cryptic messages that only developers understand ("a process has been forced to exit"?)
Just saying, but having an open kernel doesn't prevent Apple's user experience. If Apple were to post their source code to apple.com right now the iPad's user experience would not take an immediate nose-dive due to the universal law that "open source != good user experience." Please don't act like freedom and good user experience are mutually exclusive.
For example, I just read a most interesting exchange on a board, where one guy was going on about how the video experience sucks because there's no DVD drive - it's completely missing the forest for the trees, getting hung up about a single insignificant detail that's at the very best a nice-to-have. This sort of tunnel vision prevents the broad view required to execute this sort of device.
I had an epiphany (albeit a minor one) when thinking about this problem. I asked myself, "Why do I have such a problem with Apple's closed app store?" The conclusion I reached is that a core part of my geek personality involves resisting authority figures that I didn't choose, whether it's manifest through running Linux instead of Windows or starting my own company instead of pursuing a traditional career. I suspect that, to an enterprising and independent geek, accepting Apple's way is like giving up the fight for independence from unwanted authority figures.
No they don't, that's probably why everyone on this thread is saying the same thing as you ..
> the constant spec-based wankery
The way you actually transform platform openness into spec-based wankery is beyond me.
How many users actually use all the functionality?
My sister bought a 15" MacBook Pro for Xmas. She checks work e-mail via Outlook Web Access, occasionally works with MS Office documents for the office, uses an IM client, YouTube, browses the web for vacation ideas/planning, iTunes, iPhoto and... that's it. Not a luddite. Quite savvy and bright. Only 30. Yet that's all she does with a $1700 laptop.
Granted, you could do the same with a netbook, however, the iPad has nothing to really "mess up". There's not much to configure. There's not much updating. It's instant on. It has better battery life. For her intents and purposes, it does 95% of what she wants. I can say this for my parents, and either most of my friends, or their spouses.
For these types of users the lack of a full-blown OS is actually an advantage. There's nothing "to mess up". There's very few things to configure. No boot times. Longer battery life. Easier to carry around. Cheaper than a conventional laptop or desktop. Can be always online (WiFi or 3G). Presumably a very simple "restore" or factory default reset process. I would also assume you could get a MobileMe account and have all your data backed up in a data center somewhere for easy restore.
I, personally, am not sold on the device. I already have an iPhone, and I have different computing needs as a developer. However I won't ignore the fact that it'll cut the mustard for a large number of users as an "occasional" computer, if not a primary computing device.
Mind you, I'm not saying it won't be cool, and I'm not saying it won't sell many units, (although I have my doubts). I'm just saying this isn't the logical conclusion to the personal computer revolution. A personal computer is, by definition, a general purpose computing device, which this most assuredly is not.
Edit, reply to following comment: How is "it does what I tell it" a narrower definition of enable than "it does what it's allowed to do by the people I bought it from"?
I'm not trying to be flip; I think it looks very sexy. However, it's just a narrow tool, not the end-all of computers.
Oh, so programming it is the only thing that Apple limits? Wow it's more open than the iPhone! I can wait to install the iPad version of Opera!