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Dejá Vu

February 10th, 2010

Seeing all the negative talk about the iPad brought to mind the early days of the iPhone (not to mention the early days of the iPod or even the Mac itself), in which so many people responded by saying, “ahh, it’s not so great as all the hype, it won’t sell, and certainly I wouldn’t want one.” I figured that it would add perspective if we looked back at early 2007 and saw what people were saying after the announcement but before the release. So I went to Gizmodo, checked out page 175 of their “iPhone” tag, and found lots of comments that sound like they could have been about the iPad. Here’s one person complaining that the real thing didn’t live up to the imagined hype:

I think Apple may have overshot the mark with the iPhone. Everyone was expecting an iPod Nano-sized device, which was an iPod and a phone. People were also expecting a widescreen full-sized iPod. By combining the two devices into one, they’ve created a device that everyone thinks they want, but in reality and in the cold light of day a lot of people will realise they don’t want a phone they can’t fit in their pocket, or a widescreen iPod with only 4 or 8GB of storage.

People were dismissive of the initial model’s sparse specs, and thought that existing devices would do a better job:

The iPhone is useless as a video player now because of the small hard drive, I already have an ipod video, and I use a cheap ass pay as you go phone that’s small enough to fit in my front coat pocket with out me realizing it’s there. Also, I’m worried about the scratches and smudges on this iPhone. If it’s anything like EVERY OTHER ipod, it’s dead to me. I’m tired of having a nice clean iPod for a week, and then all of a suddenit’s crapola. NOW if it doesn’t scratch/smudge and they cut out the phone part/increase the hd, then i’d probably get it, but until then… :-\

Oddly enough, some complained that having multiple separate devices was better–and this guy even combined that now-defunct preference with a complaint that the one device took up too much pocket space.

I prefer mutiple devices that’s focusing on their functions, rather than just gathering them up and have an average performance… Besides, most of the devices can’t really muti task well… plus, in consumes the overall total battery life… As for iPhone’s function… I can find most of them on Sony Ericsson and other phones… I don’t want to pay extra hundreds of dollars for something I already have. Besides, there are other MP3 players that’s better and cheaper than iPod anyways. For ex. Creative… Heck, even Sony is cheaper than iPod sometimes.

Being big, clunky, expensive and with no new innovations except the multi-touch screen I would say the claim that this bloated iPod will “revolutionize” the cell phone market is slightly dubious.

However history has shown that when enough people want to appear “different” and “special” by buying the “it” gadget of the day the company that makes said gadget has the last laugh. Such is the case with the iPod and there is a chance it will be the case with the iPhone as well.

However (point 2) the iPhone is both big, expensive and will be up against some extremely well established and aggressive competition not to mention that any owner will have to purchase an expensive pouch/case/skin accessory to avoid scratching and/or cracking that huge unprotected screen.

And I doubt it’ll sell well in Europe – the competition is far worse there, not to mention Asia where it won’t sell at all.

Did I mention it’s huge? I don’t have pockets that big in my pants.

That was a recurring theme: no way it’ll revolutionize the smartphone market, much less cell phones in general. A major oversight: future versions of the device. Few were able or willing to look a year into the future.

It’s gonna revolutionize the whole phone industry the same way Duke Nukem Forever was supposed to revolutionize gaming. Sorry, but a phone without 3G and no third party apps is nothing to get excited over.

I’m glad that I followed my instincts and not guys like this for stock advice:

This whole phone from Apple thing is a bad idea. Sure, fanboys want it real bad, but they will have to pay through the nose to get it the way they want it. Everyone needs to realize that the existing market is “FAT” with cell phone diversity to meet the public demand for different needs. It is foolish to even think that a cool looking phone that costs 3 or 4 times as much to purchase/operate will make a dent in the current market. If you just bought Apple stock thinking you will have a hold of one of the cash cow’s teats for a big drink, you’d better do some quick selling now. A dry teat gives no milk for sure.

Many thought it would die because it was more expensive than perceived alternatives, was only appealing because of hyped “coolness,” and would always be too expensive:

I have said it before, and I am an obnoxious fool that will say it again: The reason there is not a consumer smart phone on the market is because Joe Consumer can not afford them. You can bet that Apple will sell every iPhone they can make in 2007 because it is ‘cool’. In 2008? That is when the iCrap hits the iPhone as consumers realize that it is not something they can afford.

Ironically, 2008 is when iPhone sales started to really rocket.

Others just couldn’t understand it at all:

Do people still want this thing?



This commenter didn’t see anything new in the product:

i hate everyone on here that act like they’ve never seen the features on the iphone before.

this is going to be a debacle just like the ps3 was. lets make sure they everyone on here who talks about getting one of these phones true to their word. this will never ever work out because i guarantee the price of the 1st gen iphone will never go down because apple has no stake in the money that cingular makes from the service and cingular has no stake in the phone whatsoever. cingular will come out on top with a few extra customers while apple will be sitting on a pile of unused iphones.

Some were closer to the mark, but again seemed to believe that prices would never fall:

Yeah, a few users will be able to justify the cost, and a few will buy it just to have the “latest and greatest” – but the vast majority will pick it up, and go “Eh. It does some neat things, but nothing I need to spend $600 and sign up for a $2400 contract for.”

And that’s why you won’t sell 10M units.

Others expected it to be a handheld PC:

Also, let’s talk about application support. WinCE is essentially an open platform. I could buy a Blackjack or Motorola Q and play Super NES on it right now. While the iPhone is supposedly running OS X, it won’t support regular OS X applications, I guarantee it. So, where does that leave application support? Even the Sidekick has more apps than the iPhone will for a long time.

Boy, was that guy off the mark. Unless by “for a long time” he meant “less than two years.”

Once again with the “nothing new here” theme, who just couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea of “gestalt”:

Almost every mobile phone available can play MP3s, download email, take pictures. There are already phones out that integrate with iTunes. There are phones with a touchscreen, phones that run Linux, phones that run WM. Other than a snazzy interface and OSX what am I getting with my iPhone? If this were three or four years ago when we first heard buzz about an iPhone, I’d say sure 10 million. I just think it’s too little too late.

The “10 million” references Apple’s prediction that it would sell 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. They hit that mark and passed it, selling 13 million by Q4 2008. Today, the total stands at 42 million and counting, with Apple selling 8.7 million iPhones in the last quarter alone.

So, will the iPad repeat this success? Not exactly. It’s a different kind of product; most people need a cell phone and figure why not get an iPhone if I’m paying for the contract anyway? In contrast, the iPad is a new product line Apple is trying to create a market for, a harder thing to do. But there are a lot of parallels–people unimpressed by what is seen as a paucity of features or capabilities, few seeing the potential of future improvements, and so on–where the comments made about the iPhone compare very closely with why people say the iPad will fail.

To wrap up, here is a comment by someone in early 2007 who saw the future with stunning accuracy:

People need to relax. Dont worry, in three years everyone will be iChat’ing on the various iPhone models about how lame the 2010 MacWorld keynote was and how the new iWare will never cut it.

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