Apple's iPad weight, size and usage mode places it at risk for a higher rate of accidents, according to Rapid Repair, which publishes an online teardown of the electronic devices it repairs. While the iPad's larger screen presents a bigger target for accidental collisions, and generates more force in falls, Apple's engineers have likely used data from the iPod Touch and iPhone development to improve the iPad's design choices. Competing devices may not have access to such data. Between its April 3 release date and April 8, Apple claims, some 450,000 iPads were sold, along with 600,000 iBooks downloaded and 3.5 million apps.
Apple's iPad may be adept at displaying multimedia content
and e-texts, but it'll have a harder time dealing with gravity and sudden
blows, according to Rapid Repair, which regularly publishes an online teardown
of the electronic devices it repairs.
"The weight, size, and novel ways of using these devices
will put them at risk for a higher rate of accidents, which are more damaging
than what we are used to," Aaron Vronko, co-founder and service manager of
Michigan-based Rapid Repair, wrote in an April 9 e-mail to eWEEK. "As a result,
we expect 5-10 percent of these devices to fail from accident-related causes
Vronko added: "Physics are not in the tablet's favor. While
the fragile parts of the iPad are no less durable than their iPhone
counterparts, a 10-inch and 24-ounce device is just a much bigger target for
accidental collisions and generates many times more force in a fall."
While the iPad may be vulnerable to the slings and arrows of
daily life, however, tablets from competing manufacturers may find
faced with equal-or possibly worse-potential for damage, according to
Vronko: "Most of the design teams who will be releasing a competing
device this year
won't have had Cupertino's advantage of a couple hundred million test
i.e., iPhones and iPods, "sold over the last nine years to help refine
their design choices."
Vronko suggested that the iPad may have a bigger issue to
confront. "If users wanted to take issue with Apple's hardware, a better target
might be its component selection which sees only marginal improvement over last
year's iPhone 3GS," he wrote. "While certainly capable of satisfying all
advertised uses, tablets based on the all-new Nvidia Tegra2 processor platform,
such as the Adam from Notion Ink, are likely to boast markedly better
performance in hardware intensive apps like 3D games and longer run times for
video playback and editing."
Since the iPad's April 3 release, a variety of videos have
circulated online showing the device subjected to various indignities,
including beaten "Untouchables"-style with a baseball bat. Blendtec's popular "Will It Blend?" series posted
a video segment showing the iPad cracked in half before being shoved in a
heavy-duty blender, where its painstakingly crafted components proved easy work
for the spinning blades. The result: a small hill of gray powder with some
larger chunks mixed in.
"This kind of negativity really upsets me," Fake Steve
Jobs-the alter ego of journalist Dan Lyons-wrote on his eponymous blog, captioning a video of
three kids smashing an iPad to pieces.
The real Steve Jobs mentioned during an April 8 presentation
at the company's Cupertino, Calif., headquarters that his company had sold some
450,000 iPads by that date, along with 600,000 iBooks downloaded and 3.5
million apps. Apple had previously announced that the iPad had sold some
300,000 units by midnight on April 3.
By the end of 2010, Apple will face a wider variety of
competitors in the tablet space, including Hewlett-Packard, which has been
diligently releasing official blog posts and videos that position its upcoming
slate device as a direct counterpoint to the iPad. On April 5, Engadget leaked
what was purportedly internal HP presentation showing that the slate would
retail for between $549 and $599, and feature a combination of inward-facing
VGA Webcam and outward-facing 3-megapixel camera for video conferencing and
image-taking. The iPad lacks a camera in its current iteration, something HP is
taking pains to emphasize.
Nokia is also developing a tablet competitor for release
later in 2010, according to recent online reports, and tablets running a
modified version of Google Android will also make their debut in the same
timeframe. But the most burning question is, will any of them survive the
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.