How the iPad Became Apple’s Most Gloriously Successful Failure

Just how important — or irrelevant — has the iPad been to the evolution of mobile technology?

⭐ Robert Jameson
Marker
Published in
9 min readJan 20, 2020

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The iPad Pro at an Apple store in Shanghai on January 12, 2020. Photo: SOPA Images/Getty Images

10 years ago, the internet was abuzz with speculation that Apple was about to unveil a new tablet computer. And I, for one, was super excited about it. I couldn’t just sit back and wait for its arrival. I spent many hours reading people’s hopes and predictions regarding what the new device might be like. And when the iPad finally arrived, I wasn’t disappointed.

Mobile computing before the iPad was basically crap. Laptops couldn’t be used away from a wall socket for very long, as you’d be lucky to get two hours of use out of the battery — even when it was brand new. And, despite the name, you couldn’t really use a laptop on your lap for more than a few minutes. It would literally burn your legs.

But then came the iPad. And that wasn’t crap at all.

Utilizing a highly-efficient ARM processor, a power-sipping display, and a non-Windows operating system, the iPad offered a genuine 10 hours of battery life, even though it weighed only a fraction as much as a typical laptop. And unlike laptops, it ran silently and vibration-free, because it had no need for either a fan or a hard drive.

It offered a paradigm shift — a true revolution in mobile computing.

And then there was all the fun and user-friendliness of its touch-based interface, which could be customized for each individual app. It was so simple and intuitive to use that toddlers and Grandma could use it without requiring any training. Even your cat could use it — as witnessed by numerous YouTube videos.

There had been some tablet computers before the iPad, but hardly anyone bought one. And the iPad made them look comically archaic.

The iPad wasn’t just an improvement on previous mobile computing products. It offered a paradigm shift — a true revolution in mobile computing.

Nevertheless, when Steve Jobs first unveiled the iPad on January 27, 2010, there was no shortage of people with scathing criticisms to offer. It didn’t have Flash. It wasn’t widescreen. It wasn’t a…

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⭐ Robert Jameson
Marker

Tech Writer. Philosopher. Economist. Basic Income Advocate.