April 12, 2012
In a recent Switched On column about the iPad, I talked about how Apple can lavish “a level of favoritism that Google and Microsoft can never have for any given device running its licensed software.” Keeping the software consistent has been one of the hallmark’s of Apple’s iOS device appeal, but there is also something to be said about keeping the industrial design relatively consistent as Apple has done between the iPhone 4 and 4S and now between the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad. I don’t expect that this will be the last form factor revision for either device although Apple has stayed very faithful to the current designs of the iMac and Mac Pro line for years.
Particularly for these mobile products, keeping a consistent form factor amplifies the advantage that Apple has versus competitors in the accessory-rich tablet and smartphone markets. Obviously, every case-maker breathed a sigh of relief when it saw the dimensions of the latest iPhone and iPad did not stray from the previous generation. But there are also a large number of keyboard clamshells, stands, mounts, clips, docks and all manner of other accessories. By preserving continuity across iDevice generations, Apple may forfeit some excitement that comes at the differentiated shape of a new thing, but it gains in preserving the consistency of the platform (in the broadest sense) with a device that hits the ground running in a ready-made accessory ecosystem, one where the hardware may even be optimized ahead of the third-party software.
Tags: Accessories, Apple, continuity, ecosystems, form factors, industrial design, iPad, iPad 2, third-generation iPad
February 5, 2010
Few people know that I had a cameo appearance in one of the live reports covering the launch of the iPad. The reporter sitting next to me recorded my loud cheer when Apple showed off the keyboard dock. I have been calling for dock and Bluetooth input support for the iPhone and iPod touch for years. It certainly makes sense to introduce this functionality on a larger device, particularly one for which Apple is developing a version of iWork, and hopefully it will trickle down to Apple’s handhelds.
Now that we’ve seen the first Apple accessories for the iPad, here are some third-party products that would complement Apple’s slate in descending order of practicality and potential:
- Headrest strap. One of the iPad’s less obvious opportunities is in the vehicle, particularly as a rear-seat video system that could serve as a 21st Century successor to the portable DVD player that has seen so much use in vehicles.This accessory could function similarly to those portable DVD cases that can wrap around a headrest – simple, inexpensive and functional.
- Clamshell enclosure. This one is the most fascinating to me. Essentially, such a product would turn the iPad into the equivalent of the detachable tablet that is part of the Lenovo U10, which was certainly the product that received the most buzz at CES among computing devices, if not all devices. The Always Innovating TouchBook has a clamshell keyboard add-on for $100, and it adds battery life to boot. It would also be great if this product provided a way to swivel the iPad from landscape to portrait mode, but that could be challenging.
- Refrigerator mount/dock. How many concept and high-tech refrigerators have you seen with LCDs that don’t do much beyond serving as a digital picture frame. This idea is also inspired by the Always innovating Touch Book, which has a magnetic back for affixing to kitchen appliances. But it also draws from the Audiovox audio and video message boards that included a 7” digital picture frame and a long wire intended to go over the top and behind the refrigerator to an outlet that can power and charge the screen. The iPad could do a better job at providing all the great functionality of the iPod touch in the kitchen.
So, what do you say, Griffin? Logitech? Belkin? Kensington? Audiovox?
Tags: Accessories, Audiovox, clamshell, iPad, refrigerator, Touch Book
November 26, 2009
I’ve always gotten a kick out of how folks find that a case or container designed for one object works well for another, particularly when it’s a tech product, of course. I remember, for example, how someone discovered that small zippered book protectors (apparently no longer) sold at Barnes & Noble offered scratch protection (if not much cushioning) for the old NEC MobilePro handheld PCs. More recently, of course, there were the Altoid tins that could hold three UMDs. And I came across one myself a while back when a case designed for an old Palm VII was a great fit for the chunky Archos 5 portable media player.
Well, at the local Starbucks, they’ve been selling these packets of Via instant coffee in a nice little Neoprene pocket done up in seasonal red and green for about $13. It turns out that the pocket is a decent case for a small camera or iPhone, which is not surprising as it’s actually a slim “Hoodie” camera case by Built. I suppose it’s not a bad deal. You also get some bundled “ready brew” coffee, which is what the case will smell like.
Tags: Accessories, Built, camera bag