The Apple iPad is a closed wireless mobile device. Like the iPhone, Apple seeks to control manufacturing, distribution, content and, with its acquisition of Quattro Wireless, advertising. It’s the perfect storm in closed systems as Apple morphs itself into a mobile computing device company.
Tim Conlon, writing in Popsci:
“You can do on the iPad only what Apple allows. And if you are allowed to do something, you have to go through iTunes or MobileMe to do it…Once we replace the personal computer with a closed-platform device such as the iPad, we replace freedom, choice and the free market with oppression, censorship and monopoly.”
John Batelle in Searchblog writes:
“…The iPad, just like the iPhone, is designed for vertical integration and distribution lock in. Apple is building its own distribution channel, just as it did with iTunes, and media companies are falling over themselves to make an app for that. Why? Well sure, for once, it’s sexy and cool and hip…But the real reason media companies love the iPad is the same reason I don’t: It’s an old school, locked in distribution channel that doesn’t want to play by the new rules of search+social.”
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal points out in the video below how Apple created a tablet computer that limits input and output, prohibits user battery replacement and restricts multitasking except for its own applications.
Printing from the iPad is possible but requires a third-party app to connect a networked printer. USB connectivity to a PC or Mac for photo, video, music and contact exchange is only possible using iTunes and MobileMe.
Microsoft Office docs require additional software. And, like the iPhone, the battery is inaccessible for replacement except through Apple ($107 plus shipping).
In other words, Apple’s iPad is a closed mobile device dissimilar to a PC or Mac computer. Apple has tethered users to its proprietary consumer electronics device.
One could argue that Amazon’s Kindle is also a closed wireless mobile device. But the Kindle is essentially an e-reader without apps that permits syncing Word docs, PDF’s, mp3 and other files via a USB connection to a personal computer. The Kindle is not a mobile computing device like the iPad, an oversized iPhone with the same operating system and similar content and distribution restrictions.
Compare Apple’s closed ecosystem with Google’s Android open system. Apple seeks total control of its devices end-to-end. Google, on the other hand, partners with other mobile and portable device manufacturers. Both companies seek profit. But the Apple and Google business models differ significantly from each other.
Will Apple’s closed mobile device strategy work in a world moving to open systems? Is the iPad a model for the future of mobile computing? Only time and consumer adoption will tell.