1: Critique against mouse and keyboard rings hollow. It's stuck around so far because it "just works" for a large number of apps. Touchscreens not similarly proven.
2: Limitations of the hardware is touted as a "great opportunity". Opportunity how? An opportunity to unleash gosh-darned ugly hacks to get around said limitations?
3: Written by Miguel de Icaza, known troll/closed source afficionado. Notably, nothing is mentioned about how hard it is to develop on an entirely closed platform (see iPhone troubles). Considering who the author is, not surprising in the least. Generally i try to avoid ad hominem but in this case the author's own bias gets ahead of dispassionate analysis.
But there are a large number of apps where it doesn't. Also, the "workstation" form factor is inherently stationary, and it soaks up all of one's interaction -- to the point where it's often easier for a computer user to "interact" with someone else sitting in the same room through an IM client.
Limitations of the hardware is touted as a "great opportunity"
I think he's touting the new interface possibilities. What "limitations" specifically are his new "opportunities" and where does he say that? Seems like a stretch for glass is half-empty from a text about the glass being more than half full.
As for the 3rd part of your post, I find it ironic for some reason.
The iPad has high speed wireless connections and so at least potentially could act as a very powerful input peripheral client for many desktop apps talking through a server running on a "real Mac" (or even Windows).
I think there's huge potential in this:
I note that they have an SDK and what looks to be a whole bunch of PC apps. The iPad could communicate with your home Mac or PC to a USB dongle which acts as hardware interface.
Another thing that might be a hit is multiplayer games. I was playing an air hockey game with my son on his iPod Touch and it was surprisingly good. With a bigger screen that could really be an interesting thing to watch.
Lots of board games might work pretty well on something like the iPad as people could sit round it.
Not to mention 75M people already know exactly how to operate it.
So either they will have to convince those 75 million people to carry two devices or find a new market.
I'm seriously confused here. Is this the same guy who thumbed his nose at Microsoft and instigated the creation Mono?
If so, isn't he at least a little conflicted about the closed nature of the platform?
Well, as deep as as a quid pro quo seeker might feel, anyway. He certainly never came off as an idealist.
But he has plans for it http://monotouch.net/iPad (found on HN)
In the Summer of 1997 my friend Randy Chapman invited me to interview at the Microsoft Internet Explorer for Solaris on the SPARC (because of my background in the Linux/SPARC port). I went to interview to Microsoft that summer and met both Randy Chapman and Nat Friedman for the first time in person. We had known for a long time from the LinuxNet IRC network.
At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately. Upon my return to Mexico Federico and I started to design a GUI control infrastructure for Unix that we code named `GNOME'.
I was underwhelmed initially by the iPad as well. Then I remembered this painting program I wrote back in the '90s for my Mac IIsi, and how cool it was (geometrical forms with palette animation) -- and then I started thinking about a touch-based version of this program -- maybe with networking -- and then I turned to my wife, and said, "You know that new thing Apple just came out with?"
No keyboard, no mouse, only a multi-touch capable screen and this will somehow liberate software development?
I really don't get it. If it was in addition to the usual input suspects, then sure, that would enable lots of stuff.
But to be able to type, use the mouse for precise on-screen pointing without getting your hand in the way of what you're doing, those are things we already had.
Now you lose those and in return you get interaction with your hands on a relatively small screen.
On screen keyboards are nice, but even a lengthy email would be pretty cumbersome that way.
Choice is good, lack of choice is not 'fascinating', it is limiting. Limitations will drive creative people to come up with ways around those limitations but for now this is what you've got to work with.
Another thing I don't understand from the article is this sentence:
"but the specter of having a small user base for my experiments always discouraged me."
Why does that matter? Not everything is about how many people adopt it. If you can make a small group really happy that counts for something too.
But there's that keyboard dock. That should make composing long-emails (or using the iWork suite) less of a painful experience. Since it doesn't allow connecting a mouse, I will wait until there is emacs ported to it ;-)
I've read that in several places now so I'm assuming that it is true.
If you're a developer or a similar tech-savvy mind, it should take you all of about 30 seconds to come up with an alternative for precision pointing in multi-touch. (It would have to be app-specific at first, of course.)
Depends on the size of the user base, and its composition. Having a small, unimaginative, not-savvy, highly conservative user base is no picnic. Been there, done that.