3G and GPS are technologies that can turn an Internet device into a mobile internet device. While tethering and MiFi are great ways to mobilise your PCs, having a built-in 3G module makes a huge difference and of course, GPS enables navigation, local search, location-based social networking and other mobile-focused applications.
But you can’t just throw these two components into a device and expect to have the same on-the-go usage as a device specifically designed for mobility. You need to have the right form factor, the right input mechanisms and the right OS and software.
Take my Touchnote Netbook for example. It has 3G and a convertible touchscreen but I don’t use it when on-the-go. It’s portable, yes, and works extremely well in conferences and expos but it’s not something that you can USE WHEN MOBILE. It’s not designed for it.
With its size, weight and lack of mobility-focused applications I’m wondering just how the iPad will take off in mobile scenarios. Gizmodo has me worried too. They appear to be experiencing this for the first timeâ€¦
â€¦nothing quite beats the feeling of ubiquitous internet on a device like this. [Ref]
Nothing, that is, except a device that’s designed for mobility. Like a smartphone perhaps? Or, if you want to GTD while on-the-go, a clamshell/slider UMPC. I’d argue that the Wibrain i1 was way better suited to mobility than the iPad. It looked ugly and the OS wasn’t touch or GPS-friendly but it was designed with two-handed mobility in mind and nothing I’ve tried since has beaten it for use in that scenario.
The point is, adding 3G and GPS doesn’t magically turn a device into a mobile device.
Once again, form has won over function. From our perspective here at UMPCPortal, it’s a real shame. It’s sad to think that hundreds of thousands of customers will learn about ‘mobile computing’ for the first time through the iPad 3G.
If you can afford it, 3G and GPS are nice to have and I’m glad Apple give the customers the option. We’ll have to wait to see if any mobility-focused applications rise to the surface but based on the design and user feedback in the last 24hrs, I don’t think it’s going to be a focus for developers.
Update: Warner Crocker has a similar view that the iPad isn’t a mobile device.
Related: 30 iPad productivity problems.