Archive for Bill Atkinson

iPad and the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2010 by spinoza1111

I almost got sucked in. I was going to buy one. But then I realized that the iPad won’t multitask and is an appliance, not a computer at all.

Moreover, the iPad won’t have something that works to the benefit of the iPod: the repeat business kiddie market that has consistently shored up sales of the iPod.

The iPod is engineered to break. For example, like many American cars, it is poorly engineered precisely at the point where the rubber meets the road. For the same business reasons auto manufacturers don’t take responsibility for tires, a serious safety issue, Apple’s iPod comes with a ridiculous, and unhealthy ear bud: a foreign object stuck in a child’s ear guaranteed to cause an infection.

And even if this is replaced by safer and more comfortable earphones, the earphone system is poorly integrated with the earphone jack, and as a result, the sound is liable to kick out at any time, or come through only one speaker.

However, the iPhone is addictive enough that when it fails the child (and many adults) won’t be willing to mail in the unit or take it to Outer Slobbovia for warranty repairs, instead, the child or Inner Child will clamor for a replacement unit.

This has, I believe, nicely shored up Apple’s profits.

Likewise for the iPhone, another Apple product that adults will willingly buy, replace and upgrade for children.

But the iPad as a product aimed at an adult market including potential developers is not itself a true computer in the sense that it’s completely inadequate as a development machine.

This product will end up in the rathole as neither fish nor fowl with no child base to its market. It’s a Speak and Spell for Yuppies, but probably without the fascinating hidden features of the 1980s Speak and Spell which my kid discovered.

Which is a pity. We badly need to replace the keyboard, the last moving part in a computer in which the hard drive is replaced by memory, with a soft keyboard that could be transformed with a single click into a Chinese typewriter or a piano keyboard.

This could be a separate screen on the flat part of a laptop or it could be integrated, as it is on the iPad, with the screen. But to get this we shouldn’t have to sacrifice multitasking, and we need to develop new applications while staying on the iPad.

Jobs has made this mistake before. The first Macintosh was not programmable in that there were no compilers, and it was released with only two applications. It’s all very well to be a minimalist Artist, but Jobs seems to be a child with regards to what a computer is, which is a machine for running our programs, period. Not a paintbrush.

Wozniak had the real vision. I gave up on Apple in disgust when Bill Atkinson (the developer of Hypercard) told me that he’d do a color Hypercard when he got around to it. Two years later, Microsoft had provided what I wanted in the form of VB 3.0: the ability to develop color applications in a windowed environment.

The iPod was a success for the same reason Starbucks makes money by labeling its smallest cup of coffee a “tall” and the next larger, and more expensive, a “short”. What John Kenneth Galbraith called, “the economics of innocent fraud” because you want the smaller, you ask for the short, they take your money. Except it’s not at all innocent to make money by means of whiny kids being trained in consumer solutions to their problems, and giving them ear infections.

Steve Jobs gets all the glory, which is his deal. Whereas a bunch of hardworking engineers at HP produced the marvelous HP Mini on which I write. The work of the world is done by the invisible.