Now that the dust has cleared, I wanted to address something that I’m surprised nobody is blogging (that I’ve seen) around the iPad because I think it’s rather obvious. I’ve seen many of people disappointed with that fact that a Camera on the iPad is not mentioned as a feature and yet that there is rather strong evidence that one almost made it into the device. Why would Apple do this? I’m betting that this was 100% strategic!
Is this an iPad Killer?
No, the lack of a Camera was disappointing to many consumers but I believe that the iPad will sell very well regardless of whether a Camera was present or not. Yes, this limits the potential applications and uses for the iPad but hardly is this a make or break of the success of the device’s core purpose.
So what is this Core Purpose?
That’s been a question that many have been debating in their articles but I believe that the ultimate answer is that the iPad needs to cover many types of needs. It needs to be a possible eBook Reader, a Casual Web Browser/Social Media Tool, a Casual Gaming System, a Video Player AND also be a productivity tool that can be used for Work and School-related activities. It essentially needs to be something that fills the need of a Work/Life Balance not much different than many view their Cell Phones.
OK, So Why is There No Camera?
I believe that the lack of a camera is so the iPad has a solid chance of becoming a universal productivity tool. Believe it or not, there are still many places that do not allow or highly discourage Cameras on Cell Phones. The ability to violate security — whether it is of individual, company, or classroom — is likely to have impact on where cellular phones and camera phones are allowed.
Many jobs within Government Services do not allow cameras due to breach of security clearance concerns, especially if you’re doing work for the Department of Defense. If you get caught with a Camera in these locations it is treated as a Federal Offense, not only do you lose your job, you lose your clearance and a lot of bad things can happen. The Government can impound all of your Computer Hardware at home because there is no way of telling if you took photos and then brought them home, then collect external hard drives, just about everything, not to mention you could go to prison.
Cameras aren’t allowed in courtrooms in many locations. So, in an age of heightened security and terrorism alerts, when officers are busy screening courthouse visitors for guns, knives and other potential weapons, they’re adding camera phones to their list of items to watch out for. Procedures for dealing with camera phones vary from courthouse to courthouse.
Many Schools have strong issues and policy concerns with Camera Phones. Cameras could be used to take photos of exams, take pictures of students changing clothes in gym locker areas, and so on.
I believe that Apple really would like to see the iPad be used in all of the above scenarios because the iPad certainly can be a valuable tool for all of them. The iWork demo solidifies that Apple really would like to have this viewed as a productivity tool and not just a cool gadget. Apple is willing to disappoint the Fanboys for the chance of selling millions of these devices to the Government or to businesses that have these security concerns. This is an untapped market that Apple may have a legitimate shot at capturing.
Newsflash: There is no such thing as the perfect device and it’s not all about the consumer
The nirvana of a perfect device is impossible. It’s not that Apple doesn’t care about its consumers, it’s that a device like this is not designed for one specific niche need. Note that I said consumers, not customers because there is a big difference there. A customer could be the US Government while a consumer is one single person (or sale). Because of that, sometimes you need to “dumb it down” to reach the wider audience. Has Apple served an open invitation to competition to fill the gap with their own product? Well yes but those devices will still be compared to the iPad now. Call it arrogance, call it Apple’s magic, but Apple once again set a bar that everyone else will be trying to reach. Will someone reach that bar? Most likely yes but Apple will simply move it again. You see, the iPad is not magical but the power of influence that Apple always seems to create is.
From this point on, Technology can only move forward and the iPad is a step in the right direction. You can’t have everything at once being a consumer even though we believe we deserve it. They held back on copy and paste in the iPhone for two years but it didn’t seem to stop sales. When the iPhone 3G released, they released it with a 2MP camera so the 3GS would look better when it came out a year later (the technology for a 3.2MP was definitely there at the time of the 3G release).
So what about the Future?
Well by not selling a version with a camera upfront, they obviously have left a place to grow the product line. BUT what it also does is cause potential double sales. The disappointed Fanboys are still most likely going to buy the first release of the iPad. Let’s be honest, they didn’t get what they exactly wanted but it’s still shows enough good stuff to make them drool. So next year Apple can easily release a new version with a camera and create a new sale with that same exact customer.
Steve Jobs is not a fool, he knew what he was doing by omitting a camera from the initial product line. The lack of camera doesn’t seem to be hurting the iPod touch sales by much. Based on that, I believe that there is so more upside to selling “cameraless iPad” units than by satisfying the consumer on day one.
It’s all marketing strategy that someone such as Apple has the luxury to do versus a startup. Plus, for the time being, it keeps the cost of the iPad down a little. Is it disappointing the individual Fanboys, of course but I believe the overhype was going to do that regardless of what feature was missing. If Apple ever decides to include one, that’s up to Apple and the camera rumors will continue to fly until that day.