Release Candidate One with Chris Clark

Understanding How Apple Innovates

The iPad, despite being nothing new, is still interesting, if only because Apple is making it. Apple may miss some fairly obvious features, but Apple never—absolutely never—half-asses anything. And some of those features will appear over time, as always.

Paul Thurrott

While I’m not going to toe the party line and suggest that the iPad is an entirely new product category, Thurrott’s assertion that the iPad belongs in the same category as netbooks confuses the hell out of me. Since when were netbooks anything but small, cheap laptops? “Smaller and cheaper” isn’t a product category, it’s an inevitability of consumer electronics.

And despite Thurrott’s recognition of the fact that Apple doesn’t half-ass its way through products, I still don’t think he appreciates it at all. I almost sense resentment in that realization. iPods, iPhones, iPads… they’re not “missing” obvious features in the sense he implies—that these features were forgotten or neglected—they were excised. Make no mistake that people inside Apple want these features too, but on the timeline and budget of a 1.0 project they usually can’t be done well enough to justify their inclusion.

People often look at a piece of shitty software, or even a badly-done feature on a piece of good software and say “it’s better than nothing.” But if it’s causing frustration to your customers and harm to the brand, then no, it’s not better than nothing. “Missing” features are as good as your imagination makes them. Missing features inspire anticipation. Bad features inspire hopelessness and disappointment. Cut them out.