The best thing about the iPad is iTunes. There have been many reports of people walking out of the Apple store with their shiny new iPad, sitting down on the curb, only to find that the thing will not work until it is connected to iTunes on a Mac or a PC. The Apple store will actually do this for you in the store if you want. Many people have called this a shortfall of the product, but I propose the connection to iTunes is one of the things I like the most about both my iPod Touch and my iPad. Here are the reasons:
- Nothing to Lose: Since the iPad is just showing me the things it got on the last sync up from iTunes -- my stuff is always backed up. No worries -- I could run the thing over with the car and be out the iPad, but not my data or apps.
- Easy Restore: Reinstalling an operating system on a PC is a week long exercise. Sure I can wipe and reinstall the OS in a matter of a few hours, but then it takes me a week to find all of the other applications and files. And I remember each application just when I need it and don't have time to install it. I can wipe and restore my iPad with one button push and about an hour.
- Online or Offline: The above listed backup and restore benefits sound a lot like the thin client benefits that have been championed for over a decade. The difference is that once synced, the iPad can work connected or not connected to the network. A thin client or a web OS type machine could not do that.
- Lower Expectations: Sure there are many things my desktop or laptop computers can do that my iPad cannot do. But I never expected the iPad to do those things. Steve has made the iPad do the things it does very well, which also means that the things not well suited for the device are not even attempted. This is a much better user experience.
PC makers could apply some of these lessons and create a much better PC experience. Did Steve say that Apple was working on reducing the iPad's dependency on iTunes? I think that would be a mistake.