Editorial: The iPad Phenomenon

Much to nobody’s surprise today, Apple announced its new cash cow innovation in mobile technology, the iPad. Images of the device had been leaked all over the internet for months now, and the only real mystery surrounding today’s media event had been what the device would be called (I was a proponent of the iSlate). We already knew that it was going to be an iPod Touch that fell victim to a steamroller.

Over the years I have watched with shock and incredulity as the iPod Touch and iPhone became more and more mainstream. What began as a relatively high-end device marketed to tech geeks and busy professionals is now the favourite plaything of spoiled children and bored housewives. The App store and its plethora of well-made and enjoyable games is largely to blame for this, much to my chagrin every time an angry mother moans about a cracked iPod screen and how they should be more durable for children. Now I am wondering what fate has in store for the iPad. Will “iPad games” become almost as commonplace in our gamer world as “DS games” or “PSP games”?

Eat your heart out, PSP.
The fact that the cheapest iPad is still going to cost a whopping $499 smackaroos should keep it out of the hands of most plebes, but it is only a matter of time before the price point lowers to a more manageable level and more people purchase them. When that happens, I think it will be a new day for portable gaming. Personally, I think that the iPad and other tablets of its kind will herald a new way of looking at portable consoles. The fact of the matter is that the iPad plays games darn nicely. Existing iPhone OS games are already compatible, and many developers, including EA, plan to release special iPad-centric versions of games. These iPad versions will take advantage of the larger screen and more diverse control options available on the new device. The iPad (and other tablets) will be able offer gaming experiences comparable to other portables, while still offering the myriad of other features that come installed.

What do you guys think? Do you think that portable gaming has become so commonplace that quality games are now necessary for a successful portable device? Do you instead think that there will and should always be a distinction between gaming portables and other, more “serious” devices? Personally, my experience with the iPhone tells me that we should expect the worlds of PDAs and portable consoles to further collide.

0 comments

  1. @Oyashiro, it has a home botton and some buttons along the perimeter, but like the iPhone will be controlled mainly through on-screen interaction.

    I really like the iPad. I think it is incredibly cool, incredibly sleek, and incredibly useless. Clearly, these devices are not targetted at me.

    I have a great home computer and an iPhone. When I am at home, I use the computer. When I am away from home, I use the iPhone. Why would I buy a larger, more cumbersome iPhone-like-device? Sure, it can do a few things (a very few things) that the iPhone cannot do, and it is a lot easier to see/use on account of its size–but is that worth losing the incredible convenience and portability of the iPhone for? Hell no.

    For my part, if I needed more than an iPhone, I would buy a laptop. I wouldn’t simply buy a much larger iPhone. I’m not certain who the iPad is targetted at, but I am certain that it is not targetted at me. My iPhone is exactly what I need. The iPad is not.

  2. No buttons, no thank you. Its the reason I hate gaming on the iPhone.

  3. Around the office today we decided that the iPad is what you get when an iPod Touch and a Kindle make babby.

    I’m kinda wondering if it’ll be possible to incorporate the peripheral keyboard into game controls. That would make playing certain games a lot easier and more natural. I guess the point of the thing is to be multi-touch, though, not multi-keystroke. =/

  4. Personally, I was hoping the iSlate (agreed, Ginia, that’s a much better name) would be more like a fully functional computer with a touch interface instead of a mouse/keyboard. Some of the features are cool and all (especially the month-to-month data plan), but there’s nothing that makes it more appealing to me than an iPod touch (in fact it’s much LESS appealing just because of the cumbersome size). Apple says they’ve created this product that’s in between a phone and a laptop, but it seems like they’ve just made laptop-sized phone.

    I think I’ve figured out the target audience for this, though. It’s my mom. not “your mom” or “moms” in general, my mom specifically. She’s wanted something like an iPhone but with a larger screen for a while now, so she’ll probably be one of the people to get this once it’s out. I guarantee she won’t care about a lack of multitasking or openess of the platform or any of those other things that are deal breakers for power users like us, and she also doesn’t care about games, and I’m completely OK with that. Like Oyashiro said, I’d much rather have good old digital buttons than touch controls or waggle controls or anything that involved moving more than my fingers.

    One thing I find hilarious, though, is just how much internet hate Apple is getting from all this. I’m not really an Apple fanboy or hater, really, but it seems like there’s always a pretty good number of people out defending their products, whatever they may be, and that’s just not the case this time. Has Apple finally used up all it’s internet clout?

    I say good luck to them when they release the iPad (that still sounds like iPod with a Boston accent to me). I don’t think it’ll be nearly as revolutionary as they’re expecting, but I think the best part of this may be the “iPad competitors” that start coming out a year and a half down the road. For now, if I were going to get a Mac tablet, I’d probably go with one of these:

    http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=modbook

  5. So … I’m guessing these were created with the same brilliant design philosophy as the DS-XL …