10 Issues Apple Needs to Address Before Releasing the iPad

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-07

10 Issues Apple Needs to Address Before Releasing the iPad

Now that Apple has finally set a release date for the iPad, it's time to prepare for its launch on April 3. Undoubtedly, some folks will be happy with what they find in the iPad.

They will enjoy using it as a mobile companion when they head out on the road. They might even like to use it when they're sitting on the couch, surfing the Web, checking e-mail and seeing what some of their friends are up to on their favorite social network.

But what about those folks who might not see such value in the iPad? Apple's tablet is still a big question mark for some people. Apple has stayed tight-lipped about the tablet's future development path, opting instead to offer as little information as possible. It's a strategy that has worked in the past. But it also lends to a general feeling of uncertainty in the marketplace.

That's where we come in. There are some issues with Apple's iPad that the company has yet to address. But if Apple wants its tablet to be successful, it better fix them before the iPad hits store shelves next month.

Let's take a look at those issues.

1. Where's the 3G iPad?

Apple announced that the WiFi-only iPad model will be available on April 3. We still have no idea when the 3G-capable iPad will be launched. Apple has only said that it will be made available in "late April." Numerous reports released prior to the announcement suggested that the 3G version will be delayed, so a later release date seems to make sense. But Apple should still provide an exact date to allay the fears of those who wonder if the 3G version will be ready for widespread use at the end of April. After all, Apple's track record with first-generation products isn't stellar.

2. The 3G pricing conundrum

Whether or not customers really want to pay $30 for unlimited 3G data or $14.99 for 250MB of monthly data is up for debate. Even AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said earlier this week that he believes the WiFi-only model will sell better, since folks don't want to pay for another subscription. I understand why Apple is offering a 3G model, but 3G pricing is an issue.

3. We need Flash

What good is a tablet that can be used to surf the Web if Flash isn't supported? Yes, Apple wants to protect us from all those Flash security issues, but in the process, it's also limiting access to many major sites across the Web. Apple should offer Flash support before the iPad hits store shelves.

4. Displaying iPhone apps

Some customers might be disappointed when they start adding their favorite iPhone applications to the iPad, since many apps won't fit the iPad's screen. Apps need to be full-screen on the iPad. If they're not, the experience of using the device will be diminished. That's a result that Apple simply doesn't need as it attempts to make its iPad a viable alternative to so many other tablets on the market.

Uncertainty About Accessories Could Slow iPad Sales

5. Accessory pricing

Since the iPad lacks a USB port, users will be forced to buy accessories that can only connect through its dock. Unfortunately, Apple has been mum on accessory pricing. How much will that physical keyboard cost? What's the prospective cost of other useful accessories? The company should let consumers know before the iPad is released.

6. iPhone OS 4.0

Later this year, Apple is expected to announce a new version of iPhone OS. In previous years, those updates only affected the iPhone and iPod Touch. But now that the iPad is available, it could also affect Apple's tablet. Apple needs to reassure those potential customers who worry that the iPad's software will be obsolete in just a few months that any updates to the iPhone OS will also be made available to the iPad. It might sound obvious to some, but a novice user might be concerned.

7. The Kindle competition

Although Apple is marketing its iPad as a replacement for the Amazon Kindle, the company still needs to be worried about Amazon. A backlit screen is not the best way to enjoy books. And although Apple's iBooks will offer color-a major omission in the Kindle-speculation abounds over a new version of Amazon's e-reader that will compete more effectively against the iPad. Apple needs to figure out its strategy for taking Amazon down before the iPad is released. Any missteps could see book lovers run back to the Kindle.

8. Connectivity

Apple's decision to forgo USB, FireWire or any other kind of connectivity is a major issue. Apple wants the iPad to go along on trips or be used for those moments when users want to perform basic tasks. But what about those moments when users want to transfer files from an iPad to an iMac with the help of a USB key? It won't work with the iPad. That's a shame. Apple needs to find a way for users to connect peripherals they already own as soon as possible.

9. AT&T's network

Apple's decision to partner with AT&T for 3G connectivity is suspect. AT&T has had trouble accommodating all the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS users that have pelted its network. The company is currently investing heavily in infrastructure to address those issues. But with some iPad owners connecting to that same network, it might be tough for AT&T to keep up. Hopefully Apple has worked with AT&T to ensure its network is ready for the iPad 3G.

10. No camera? Really?

Apple's decision to not include a camera in the iPad is a major omission. Part of the value of the iPhone is its ability to capture stills at moments when users don't have a camera readily available. Considering Apple is marketing the iPad as a mobile product, a camera would seem like an obvious inclusion in the device. And yet, it's not available in the iPad. Apple needs to find a way, likely through peripherals, to bring camera functionality to the iPad. It's a must-have that consumers will be missing.

Rocket Fuel