Apple tablet apocalypse averted -- for now

IT shops jump for joy as Apple delivers a real dud in the iPad

I'll admit it. I was sweating a bit while I waited for the Apple iPad event to get under way yesterday. There were so many expectations attached to this product. People were calling it a "game changer," a once-in-a-decade device that would redefine how we interact with technology. And what if they were right? What if my worst fears of an impending Apple tablet apocalypse came true?

Fortunately, it was all much ado about nothing. The Apple iPad arrived, and the IT community sighed collectively in relief. This was no game-changing device. This was no paradigm-shifting über-product. This was an iPod on steroids -- a glorified multimedia player complete with single-tasking OS, limited connectivity options (sorry, Verizon fans), and virtually no traditional I/O capabilities.

[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman thinks Randall C. Kennedy is way off base on the iPad. | Read InfoWorld's ongoing coverage of the iPad. ]

Talk about dodging a bullet! Apple could have hit one out of the park if it had actually innovated with the iPad. Instead, it rehashed a bunch of iPod/iPhone bits, spread them out even more thinly across its much ballyhooed industrial-design surface (so long, iPhone camera!), and offered them up as something new and different.

Anticlimactic doesn't begin to describe the feeling! One blogger quipped that Microsoft executives must be bashing their heads against the walls up in Redmond, but I think that he/she/it got it all wrong. The Microsofties are more likely high-fiving each other. Not only did they steal Apple's thunder with a variety of compelling tablet demos at CES (that HP tablet looks like a winner), they did so with a solution that is head and shoulders above anything the iPad can deliver.

Seriously, can anyone really compare the creaky, rigid-looking iPhone OS 3.2 to the flexibility and functionality of a full-blown Windows 7 device? Can you say "multitasking"? How about compatibility with the range of enterprise and consumer applications? Connectivity? The realistic capability to replace your desktop/laptop/netbook?

Indeed, this is a glorious day for IT. Faced with the rumor of annihilation, we stood firm, faced our fear, and found the enemy wanting. Now, when those idiot masses come streaming into your office with requests for iPad support and acceptance, you can laugh them right out of the building. After all, these same users wouldn't think of asking to replace their primary work PCs with an iPod Touch. So why take them seriously when they ask to do the very same with a device that is nothing more than a supersized version of yesterday's glorified multimedia toy?

Of course, some of them will make just such a demand, at which point you should feel free to point them to this blog entry (assuming they haven't read it -- Apple fans already flock to my blog for regular doses of angst-venting therapy). Then sit back and smile. The crisis is over. The threat is gone. The emperor has no clothes (if you don't count the greatest collection of turtlenecks this side of Finland).

The iPad is no threat to IT. It's not even a threat to or Sony. It's a sad, pathetic joke -- and this blog entry is the punch line!

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