Pads ARE Next

They’re being called “Media Tablets,” I call them the future.Post’s Permalink

Announcing my new “Pad-oriented” Twitter Account: @SGpad
I am splitting my Twitter Tweeting into two separate accounts: @SGgrc for non-Pad notes, thoughts, comments, observations and news… and a new account: @SGpad for Pad-specific content — And I don’t mean only “iPads,” I mean ALL pads. If the industry’s new “media tablet” computing phenomenon leaves you cold, please do not follow me at @SGpad — I don’t want to worry that I’m annoying you with endless drivel about which you couldn’t care less. But if you ARE as interested in the birthing of this truly significant new computing paradigm as I am, please DO follow me at @SGpad — and I won’t worry about pad oversharing. 🙂

It is so rare for us to be present to witness the birth of a major new computing paradigm. But we are at the beginning of one today. “Pads” are no more a passing fad than the Internet. A portable, long battery life, instant-on, color, responsive personal tablet that’s always connected to the Internet makes so much sense. Apple has demonstrated a new product category and most of the world has “gotten it” instantly.

Whether you’re a staunch Apple advocate who waited in line to be among the first to acquire an early iPad, or if you are holding out to see what’s next from Google with Android, RIM’s Blackberry pad, Hewlett Packard’s WebOS pad, or who knows what … pads are happening.

My previous posting “The Obvious Genius of iPad” outlined why I believe the “pad” paradigm represents a major breakthrough for the personal computing industry. You have likely heard by now that Apple sold more than 2 Million iPads in less than the first two months of the device’s availability. Analysts are now scurrying around revising their “numbers” (way upward) in the wake of that news. And we’re seeing a stream of articles by people who, after using their iPads somewhat skeptically at first, have confessed their conversion (much as I did after a few hours).

(I initially purchased the cheapest iPad since “Jobs was not going to get me.” But after playing with it for three hours, I jumped online to pre-order the most expensive one since… “this thing rocks!”)

Again, note that when I say “pad” I am deliberately NOT saying “iPad.” My intention is to use the generic term “pad” to refer to any long battery life (all day), instant on (very long standby), cellular connected, thin (pad-like) portable device which is more oriented toward consuming Internet media than producing it.

Although Apple showed the way with their iPad, this new product category will be getting very crowded very quickly. There will inevitably be many failures along the way, with companies throwing anything they can cook up against the wall to see what sticks. (And, believe me, there will be some real stinkers.) But don’t let the many failures confuse you; this is a bona fide new personal computing category that everyone wants in on, and there will be room for as many players as there have been for laptops … if not more.

I have spoken my peace on the topic for the time being, so I won’t be belaboring the point endlessly here. You know what I believe. If you do want to follow along with my future discoveries and observations, my new Twitter account @SGpad, will make that easy.

Whatever happens, and however it all shakes out, I know we’re in for some great fun!

Steve's Sig

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42 Responses to Pads ARE Next

  1. The Monster says:

    Can we credit Star Trek with another invention?
    Automatically-opening doors based on small radars
    flip phones look an awful lot like ST:TOS communicators

  2. John Wallace says:

    Steve, I agree completely about the new Pad computing platform. I’m writing this reply on my iPhone because my wife is using “our” iPad to play “We Rule”. I’m waiting to see what other pad products will become available before deciding, but I believe I’ll be purchasing another iPad because of the many apps that are available. I’m also waiting to see what WWDC brings on June 7th. I’ll be anxious to hear what iPhone OS 4 brings for iPhone and iPad. It’s good to see you on Twitter. Love the Security Now podcast too.

  3. pinoy-at-sydney says:

    We’re with you Steve …wherever you are… I got this Ipad for my high school son even if cash is hard simply because of the same idea that I want to let him in to this new way of “computing”.
    Simply as a dad (not too hightech/ geek) it will be a very big help if I have someone like you who we can walk together in exploring this new paradigm.
    Thanks Steve.

  4. Anthony Hocken says:

    Look forward to hearing what you have to say on “pads”. Especially the iPad.

    I’ve been quite surprised that so many tech experts/nerds fail to see the benefits of this form factor. It has become my new benchmark for separating the clueless from the visionaries.

    I suspect it’s the same group of people who failed and still fail to see why the iPhone became so popular. As a developer on a competing platform at the time the iPhone launched there were those who got it and those who hadn’t a clue. They literally couldn’t see why a UI for touch was radically better than a pokey UI you prodded with a stylus.

    Now we’re seeing the same rehashed logic with the iPad. Only now it comes with Apple haters and Google worshipers too. It’s turning into a religion for many it seems. So my only request Steve during your coverage is to stay rational and balanced. And turn a blind eye to the rabid haters of which you’ll bump into many. If you see why a platform or device is a game changer, make no bones about it and speak your mind 🙂

    It’s funny how on Star Trek you don’t see anyone squinting at a screen and prodding it with a stick. Fast forward to today and people express with anger how the iPad is nothing but an oversized iPhone and people are Apple zombies buying it because master Steve told them to. All gets so tiring and those people are clueless. The lot of them. Once Android pads hit the market they’ll change their tune maybe. I would be just as enthusiastic for this form factor if it was Microsoft or Google who pioneered it (assuming the software and hardware had the same polish).

  5. Lance ==)-------------- says:

    I was a very late adopter of mobile phone technology, and I will likely be a late adopter of pad technology. Although I am concerned about having another way for the Web to suck up my time, I guess my chief concern is the cost-benefit ratio. I’d like to be able to pick up and browse with the same immediacy as pulling a paper out of my pocket to continue reading a printed article, but how much are the recurring costs of pad data service? It’s easy to see how much acquiring the device will cost, and in short order there will be slightly used, perfectly acceptable pads on eBay and Amazon, but how much am I gonna end up paying to feed this thing once I have one?

    BTW, overall lifetimes of batteries seem to have made a major leap in the past few years (I’ve had terrible luck with rechargeables wearing out in the past); do we have any indication how durable batteries in the pads (as they come on the market) will be?

  6. dusanmal says:

    Yes, Pads are the new computing format made possible by technological advances. Here are two caveats… One for Apple (with possible wider consequences) – iPad may fall quickly if Apple does not relax control over every aspect of it, particularly when it is at customers account (ex. lack of standardized USB port vs. identical functionality with proprietary hardware connector, recent limits on apps’ developers about manner in which they produce apps,…). General consequence: this may fail the whole segment… Second from A.Hocken comment “…I’ve been quite surprised that so many tech experts/nerds fail to see the benefits of this form factor. It has become my new benchmark for separating the clueless from the visionaries….” – benefits of this form/usage factor are not for everyone. It is not new benchmark, it is new form for people whose life/work-style calls for it. That is the other factor of fail-or-not future for ‘pads: after initial over-enthusiasm, will there be enough customers who really need it.

    In my case, I am not yet “biting”. Second generation (or competition) must provide customer-first hardware and software for my needs or I am not jumping on this train.

    • Anthony Hocken says:

      I didn’t say the benefits are for everyone. My point was about those who fail to see what the benefits are. Basically those saying the only people who buy this are Apple fanboys, that it’s nothing but an oversized iPhone, and all that dismissive nonsense.

      • @Anthony, you seems to be in such a defensive position. Someone tries to commit an act of war on you? To me, “pad” format, whether from Apple, Google, or Palm has very specific and limited “passive” and on-the-go usage. And who knows who is really “clueless” and who is “visionary”.

  7. head sling says:

    steve – i think you are making a mistake splitting your account into two – don’t do the filtering for us.. let us do that. gruber tweets about baseball all the time, a subject i have no interest in but i simply skip over the posts that look like baseball to me. once in a while he’ll say something interesting about baseball and so i read that. i don’t know if i want to read your pad posts until i read them.. splitting your stream into two is confusing – keep one stream and let me decide which posts i want to read and which i don’t; it’s only 140 chars after all.

    • Steve Gibson says:

      Here’s my thinking:

      If someone DOES know that they want to hear about Pad-related stuff, it’s simple, easy, and fast for them to follow that channel also. They need not bother with whether it comes from @SGgrc or @SGpad. Twitter takes care of that for you. And you get everything from me.

      But if someone knows that they do NOT want to hear about Pad-related stuff — and I have a sense that there are such people — then I’ve given them that choice. They can still get my non-Pad channel while not being subjected to my Pad-related content.

      And I, in turn, can feel much more free to post stuff that I believe Pad-interested people will appreciate without concern of “over posting” things that grumpy non-Pad people don’t want to read. I had already been feeling that concern.

      Given that it’s SO EASY to add a Twitter channel, which is done once then takes care of everything, whereas filtering-out unwanted annoying Tweets is an ongoing and continuous chore, the idea of dividing my content into such channels seems the logical course. 🙂

      • Headsling says:

        Steve – this is not the common mode for Twitter usage. I want to follow you. Period. Folkes look at Twitter as people streams, not Peoples channels
        as describe them. This ain’t your real-time net news feed. If you want to talk about pads all day – go for it. If you want to ramble on about 8bit computers do it. Don’t complicate peoples choice of following you ! And I agree with Anthony – if you keep thinking of Twitter as channels then you’ll be forking every other month 🙂


        • Dimitri says:

          Actually I agree with Steve. I’ve added his third twitter account SGpad to my iPod touch and now when I turn it on I see all his posts anyway. Only his picture is different, hat / no hat … :o)
          It’s a bit harder for Steve, now he has to think which account to type it from instead of JUST type.
          I see people who may follow only 1 or 2 out of his three accounts – it make sense.

        • Caleb Millar says:

          What if Steve started a Twitter list that had all his accounts in it? So that people can follow all of them in one click.

        • Dale Diertich says:

          I completely agree with head sling. This is not the normal way Twitter works. I want all of Steve in one place. Managing multiple follows for a user is a pain and, for us trying to keep our follow counts down, like me at @daledietrich, it’s especially a pain to have 3 follows for one person.

          How about this Steve. Download a WordPress poll widget (there are lots) and poll your followers. With this question:

          Do you prefer to reciece all my Teets through one comprehensive Twitter ID or do you prefer my tweets separated by topic which requires you to follow multiple Twitter IDs?

          – one aggregsted ID please
          – multiple segregated IDs please

          Count me in for the first option 🙂

          FYI I’m love’s my iPad too – for all the reason’s Steve expressed and more.

          … Dale (@DaleDietrich)

  8. gourdcaptain says:

    As someone who admits he has the attitudes of a cranky old man at the age of 19 (and is a Computer Engineering major at college), I admit I still don’t quite get why everyone is raving about the iPad and other portable devices. This can probably be based on several facts.

    1. My weird latency with new stuff. I still don’t have a FaceBook/Twitter account or analogue. I didn’t even use instant messaging/text messaging until last year when some friends dragged me in kicking and screaming.
    2. I really don’t like touch interfaces much. Mostly the lack of a tactile feedback mechanism or reliable button placement.
    3. I tend to evaluate whether I’ll pick up a PC/PC like device under the following rules – 1. Can it run MPlayer or VLC. 2. Can it run Snes9X.
    4. I really can’t get myself to spend the money to get one, and the demos have failed to impress me so far. I’m still using my Netbook.
    5. The app factor just baffles me. Sorry, but I’m not sure what parts of these replace a competent computer and a browser, or other such programs.

    Yeah, I’m grumpy and probably will continue to be.

    Keep up the interesting blog Steve,

    • Steve Gibson says:

      I COMPLETELY respect and understand your position. I think that it’s about need and application. For example, for me, the iPad *precisely* meets a set of needs that I absolutely have. If it didn’t, I could care less. But it does, so I’m in love. (And I’ve been VERY careful to differentiate the “Appleness” from the “Padness” since, while I love what Apple has done, many ex-girlfriends can testify to my fickleness!)

  9. I agree about pads, Steve, but I don’t think splitting your twitter account is a good idea. Haters are gonna hate, and there will always be haters of various kinds, no matter what you tweet about. By splitting your pad tweets out, you’re letting the terrorists pad-haters win. Especially considering the larger point you’re making here — that pads are a huge part of the future of computing — trying to dance around the issue to appease a few vocal grouches just doesn’t make sense to me. And what happens when the next big controversial issue rolls around, and you tweet about it, and get some negative feedback? You’ll be forking your twitter stream till the cows come home.

  10. Kyle says:

    Steve, in less than a month you’ve gone from zero Twitter accounts to three, PLUS tacked on two blogs. For someone who was “dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century,” you seem to have acclimated very well. 🙂 Just to throw my two cents in, I also agree that it’s a little silly to split your accounts up between SGGRC and SGPad, but it’s also completely trivial to just follow one more account and add it to the list. If it’s just as trivial for you to post under separate accounts, I don’t see what the big fuss is for some of the other commentators.

    Oddly enough, I’m in roughly the same boat as gourdcaptain: a 19-year-old university student majoring in a computing field (Computer Science, though) who is baffled by the iPad’s hype. Having tried a couple of demo units, I’ve been impressed, but there’s no personal need for it; it still feels like an accessory which needs to be occasionally tethered to a full computer at a price comparable to a low-end laptop which can fill all of my niches (except for amazing battery life). With that said, the more you talk about this stuff, the more optimistic I become that someday before I graduate, I can hold a $499 pad in a lecture and use it for notetaking. If not a pad, by your definition of “consume more than produce”, then a tablet computer that steals so many good/futuristic ideas from the pads. Hopefully someone finds a way.

    I’ve been listening to Security Now since the start, when I was 15, and saying “Thank you for the podcast” would never adequately express my gratitude for it. The show (especially the newest “Fundamentals of Computing” series) has played a significant part in putting me well ahead of the introductory classes for my major.

  11. CVi says:

    And this comes from the guy who just recently “was reluctantly forced to join the 21st century”
    They are not really “the future”, just merely a part of it.
    But they are the next big hype…

    • Steve Gibson says:

      I suppose the differentiator between hype and happening is sales volume… and if what we’ve seen so far keeps up, the sales volume will be there. I’ve never carried any device that continuously generated so much excitement in everyone who sees it. I wish it didn’t, since it’s just annoying. But it really does. I believe that this form-factor perfectly hits a mark, a previously wanting, unrequited and unfulfilled mark … and nothing about that feels like hype to me. Time alone will tell.

      • CVi says:

        And that is my key, Time.
        In 3 years, when the initial hype is over with (new products always have a “next big thing” hype)
        Will the numbers match those of a single class of computers (netbook, ultra-portable laptop, laptop, media laptop, desktop computer)

  12. Steve, first of all: I enjoyed watching your last TWIT “Operational Systems” podcast. It was such a nice refreshment for me – active practical Web developer.
    Are you considering adding Google Buzz account? It differs from Twitter and is more suitable for conversations due to its threaded nature.

    My comment on your post:
    Emerging a new computer paradigm? Really? While I’m going to buy a decent Android and/or WebOS tablet once one is released, I see them as passive consumer device not very suitable for content creation (no keyboard, not enough power, not enough screen estate). A companion device for checking emails and socializing “on the sofa” (what I’m doing a lot lately using Nexus One due to health problems), reading books, watching podcasts, using on the go, in a car – yes. But programming, editing pictures, extensive writing, even watching movies in really good conditions – No.

  13. puppetj says:

    Sorry to cut in here but who or how do I contact someone in grc about spinrite 6.0; is having a few issues

  14. RCIX says:

    I guess I don’t understand why you seem to be so eager to see a non-Apple iPad. I’m an “on the bench” Apple fan (don’t own any of their products but love them), and understand exactly why the iPad will likely own the market (in order of importance):
    1. the iPad has a great, smooth, polished UI. Not quite perfect, but light-years ahead of such UIs as the new Windows Embedded Compact 7, Android OS, WebOS, etc. Emphasis on smooth.
    2. the iPad has a massive backing of apps and developers, which I don’t see as much for any other similar platform. Maybe i’m just in the wrong area of the internet?
    3. The form factor and heft and such is just right. (I tried one in a Best Buy once)
    4. “The Steve” has “sold” me on it. While the zombie aspect of Apple’s followers is definitely there (causing a good bit of guaranteed sales, I’m not an Apple nut by any means), a good marketing campaign is essential to a successful product.

    • vkelman says:

      1. I strongly prefer to use open devices on which I decide what and from where to install or not to install.
      2. While there is no decent Android and WebOS tablets on the market yet, Android 2.1 is excellent and very convenient OS. Less restrictive and more capable than current Apple OS. “light-years ahead” are just senseless words. And I just cannot see that persevered “non-smoothness” of Android UI. It’s a legend from Apple users who didn’t manage to learn different paradigm.
      3. Android also has a massive backing of apps and developers.

      While I don’t own iPad I played with it *a little*, my impressions are here .

      Regarding WebOS – I never tried it, but I was intrigued by 100% positive and enthusiastic responses about it (not about existing Palm phones). Everybody seems to tell that WebOS UI is much better than either Android or Apple. So, I though, I need to understand why people are saying that.

      • RCIX says:

        Hmm, I guess I’m not as much of an “open source nut” or whatever term you might use to describe it, which seems to be one of the main pulls to non-i Pads. Though a technical user and a programmer, I’ve long not liked *nix type OSes due to the fact that it always feels like some part of my system has an “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” or “POTHOLES AHEAD” sign on it.

        Regarding apps/developers, it might just be that i don’t own any android products to see the apps, but from the glimpses of the app world on your side, i see a small number of unpolished products. But then, i haven’t done any investigation into the number and quality of apps that the android marketplace equivalent has 🙂

      • RCIX says:

        Sorry for the double post, i often reply to parts of a post then realize there was more 😛

        Regarding smoothness, i admit to not trying Android/WebOS/etc. Perhaps it’s a personal preference of the Apple way for touchscreen devices. I’m a windows user born and bred though.

    • Mateusz says:

      nonj prendete mai sul serio gli sconeeshort!! peggiorano sempre la grafica di un gioco. ripeto mp3 dagli screen. sembrava un gioco n64.i trailer dimostrano che the conduit ci far rimanere a bocca dai fino a poco tempo fa era impensabile. il wii abbastanza potente, la colpa stata delle terze parti che graficamente non l’hanno completamente sfruttata. sembra che quest’anno le cose stiano cambiando

  15. Paul says:

    I like that you have three accounts, don’t change that just because that’s “Not the way it’s done!” Know what else isn’t the “way it’s done”? Writting code in assembly!

  16. Ronc says:

    Your definition doesn’t include screen size ” the generic term “pad” to refer to any long battery life (all day), instant on (very long standby), cellular connected, thin (pad-like) portable device which is more oriented toward consuming Internet media than producing it.” Consequently, the OQO with its 5″ screen and thumb keyboard falls within that description. But it can also become a production device when docked to a large monitor and keyboard. Not sure I’d call it “thin” but I can fit it into my shirt pocket even with the double battery. And no 10 hour battery life but it’s long enough for me for an afternoon’s use. It’s instant on if you sleep it before leaving. These days some are running Windows 7 on it. I’ve put Windows 7 on the 2+ demo version, sometimes available on eBay and still featured on the website .

  17. Some times ago a friend tolds me about this. And we had search for a good iPad application and have this one hxxp:// , what do you think?

  18. JohnP says:

    whatever-Pad computers (my term) are simply too restrictive for my use, but I don’t usually require a very powerful system either. All these “Pad” systems are missing is a keyboard that is suitable for touch typing.

    I’ve had almost everything I wanted since 2007 in a Nokia N800 ($219 then). All the things it does well are too many to list here. Thousands of free Linux apps have been ported thanks to Qt and every shell program I’ve looked for was already ported too. Writing code for this line of portables AND for Linux, Mac, and Windows is easier with the free Qt Creator tool.

    The main things for improvement are a touch-type friendly keyboard and the physical screen size. The screen resolution of 800×480 and 16M colors was fine, I just wanted a larger, 7″-8″ screen. I bought and traveled with a bluetooth keyboard to use with the N800 and it was ok, but the BT connection couldn’t keep up with my typing speed. It both dropped and repeated characters even with fresh batteries. Also, small portable keyboards use odd layouts so entering a number is an odd Fn+key keystroke. The 4″ screen is just a little to small to comfortably use while typing.

    The ARM CPU, disk (2x8GB SDHC), RAM (128MB) were all fine. Today, I’d want double the RAM to run the Linux based Maemo or newer Meemo OS, but everything else was fine.

    I don’t really blog much about the N800 anymore, it *just works* these days, but here’s a non-commercial link to 20+ articles that mention tips, complaints, and accessories for the device. It is especially good for people who want a small Linux computer, but are not interested in a smart phone that requires monthly data plan costs.

  19. Phillip Jubb says:

    Hi Steve,

    it’ll be great to hear your thoughts in developments in pad technology.

    Long time listener and now Twitter follower.


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