The iPad questions Apple won't answer

As the smoke clears from Steve Jobs' iPad demo, missing details suggest there's less to Apple's tablet than meets the eye

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The iPad is a natural device for playing back Flash files, both on the Web and as native files. Apple should let Adobe release a Flash Player app and Safari plug-in, and if Adobe screws it up, Adobe gets the blame. I suspect the issue really isn't about Flash performance issues, but instead is about blocking a video-delivery conduit that Apple doesn't control and can't charge for. Whatever the truth is, Apple won't say.

If Apple won't say, maybe you shouldn't buy
I'm as guilty as any other writer in getting swept up in the iPad's promise. And my 18-year history of dealing with Apple means I know all too well how the company withholds information, thus creating a vaccuum that allows rumors and speculation to run rampant, while keeping Apple top of mind at no cost to the company.

I also know firsthand that Apple typically makes better products than its competitors. I have no doubt the iPad will be compelling to some users. But I now have major concerns that it will fulfill the potential beyond being an iTunes delivery screen that I and other industry observers saw. I can't blame Apple for not delivering on promises it hasn't actually made, but I can be fed up with its lack of candor on its products' basic capabilities.

It's to Apple's advantage for us all to assume the iPad can do whatever we want it to do -- that's likely why Apple won't say. But it's not to your belief to believe the iPad fulfills your own desires. Within a few weeks of the iPad's availability this spring, we won't have to speculate about the iPad's actual capabilities, limits, and sleights of hand. We'll actually know. Then we can make rational decisions of whether and where the iPad makes sense. Ultimately, we users get the final say.

If Apple can't take customer questions seriously, maybe we shouldn't take its iPad hype seriously. No one should buy an iPad until we really know what it can do and what limits Apple has set on it. Maybe it does all the things Apple is silent about. But maybe it doesn't.

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