One recurring theme in defense of the closedness of the iPad is that it gives you access to the web and that's the most open thing around. Maybe, but if I want the web there are much better and less expensive ways to get it that don't compromise on flexibility and the ability to run other software. In other words, if you want the web and only the web, iPad would be a poor choice.
Yet I am concerned that it will get a flow of great apps from people who are willing to compromise on their freedom and users' freedom. They may say they're not doing it, but I don't see it that way. I wouldn't want to do anything to discourage them from developing cool apps for iPad, as long as they're not pumping their creativity into a platform that can't be competed with because of patents. If that's the case, it's a very unhealthy situation. Not one a developer should support unless they know for sure that other platforms can challenge Apple. I suspect there's a problem because Google is not releasing their multi-touch technology very widely.It could be that it's not ready, I hope that's the reason. But it may also be that Apple has a patent.
Another question that comes up frequently is why worry about limitations in a platform from Apple when we haven't expressed similar concerns re those from Nintendo, Sony, etc. The answer is obvious -- we depend on the Macintosh being one of two or three serious and open development platforms. At some point Steve is going to get up on stage and tell us it's the end of the road for the Mac, because the iPad/iPhone OS has sucked all the energy from the Mac. That's something he and Apple could seriously influence. Sony and Nintendo don't make the Mac, therefore there's nothing to worry about. One way Apple could alleviate these concerns and, at the same time, blast a big hole in the side of Microsoft would be to fully open source Mac OS. At that point, I'd be very happy to keep working on it, and wouldn't give a whit about the iPad, knowing as long as there's demand we'd be supplied with new versions running on the latest hardware, by someone, if not Apple.
Re the need for simplification, I've watched a close relative struggle with the multiple layers of user interface on today's computers, I recognize the need for a fresh start. Current GUI technology is 40-plus years old. Mac and Windows are equally confusing messes. User interfaces can be vastly simplified. I thought Apple would have done much more in this area by now. It's already been three years since the iPhone's introduction. And I don't think Android has the same commitment to a fresh start, it's more of a hodgepodge. And while Google is a patent offender just like Apple, so has no moral advantage, at least there's no barrier to what developers can put on the Android platform, so Google doesn't have the ability to control what goes on Android as Apple does with the iPad. In the worst case, you can route around Google totally because Android is open source.
Another thought occurred to me -- iPad looks rushed. It seems possible that Apple pushed it out sooner because it got wind of a competitive product. Could it be that Google has a DroidPad in the pipe? One thing's for sure, Apple's competitors are not scared of iPad. Let's hope they make some decent offers to developers. If any of them want my help, I'm here and ready to roll up my sleeves. I want to be sure there are lots of choices, the sooner the better. I can help get developers to pay attention to what you're doing.
The stakes are much higher than with the iPhone. No one should underestimate the potential of iPad. That's why I said, ironically, there's no doubt I will buy one as soon as I can. For the same reason I bought an iPhone. You have to understand this product if you want to stay current. But we, as an industry, must have choice. Now is a crucial moment for that.