iPad: The Better Webbook

Remember when I wrote about ChromeOS and Litl, somewhat over a month ago? It was all about the next generation of Operating Systems and the many, many devices and different types of devices that we’re progressing towards; ChromeOS and Litl stood out because both are completely browser-based Operating System, which is similar to Palm’s WebOS but even more to the letter. To identify the Litl’s uniqueness in particular, I wrote:

Leave it to David to make Goliath look the fool; an innovative and ballsy approach at making a brand new computer, complete with its own Operating System. A total break away from the traditional mold of computing devices and operating systems.

In my mind, I started referring to ChromeOS netbooks (as yet unannounced, hardware-wise) and the Litl computer as “webbooks”. They’re not really a netbook, the way we think of netbooks today, and they’re certainly not tablets. “Webbook” seems fitting, if admittedly not a great name.

The iPad, out of all announced and existing devices I can think of, reminds me most of the ChromeOS netbook (concept) and the Litl, except better. For one, the iPad drives a lot of its value through the built-in Safari web browser, which means that it is capable of doing many of the same things ChromeOS and Litl do. Unlike the two of them, it lacks Flash but it compensates that tremendously by being so much more than just a browser-based OS: it is the iPhone OS on steroids, and with more potential (and much more powerful hardware).

Another observation from my earlier piece applies here, this time about Google and ChromeOS:

First they came with Android, now Chrome OS; the two platforms appear not to share any code or frameworks, so Android developers are at no advantage whatsoever when it comes to developing apps for Chrome OS.

The iPhone kickstarted as a platform by leveraging the Cocoa framework, reinvented for a multi-touch interface instead of a mouse and keyboard. This meant that all existing Mac developers—who are responsible for a large number of fantastic products with great UI—were able to quickly get started building apps. The iPhone’s popularity and monetization potential, along with the really great SDK, meant that many more people got started building apps for it.

Now there’s the iPad, and it builds on top of the iPhone SDK and CocoaTouch frameworks. I haven’t yet explored the iPad SDK but you don’t need to in order to realize that every iPhone developer is now also a well-prepared iPad developer. And there are over a hundred thousand iPhone developers already (whilst a much smaller number are published app creators, that number is still larger than for any other mobile platform).

The iPad, as a result, is the “webbook” that really delivers. It offers all of the potential that those other devices have to offer, but adds on top of it a wealth of existing applications that already work on it, a legion of developers ready to expand their skill set and product line, and a much more powerful layer of applications that have yet to be created for it.

There’s so much more to be said and is being said about iPad, but I felt this particular aspect was being overlooked thus far.

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