The internet blew up when Mark Zuckerberg claimed the iPad wasn’t a mobile device. He referred to tablets as a new form factor and thus requiring a different approach than either typical desktop or mobile development. Ben Parr of Mashable disagrees, going as far to insinuate Apple would disagree with Zuckerberg, too.
Ben is wrong. I doubt Apple agrees with him. The iPad has more in common with a computer than a mobile device.
The iPad IS a new device requiring a new way of interaction. It’s seldom used with one hand, as a typical smartphone is, and it’s also not usually used with a keyboard and input device, like a laptop or desktop. We already know that desktop and mobile design, especially input versus touch, doesn’t translate well. iPad is the next step in the evolution of computing devices, mostly as a proof-of-concept model to kick start more analog and touch-based interaction.
But the iPad isn’t a true mobile device.
1. It’s available without a wireless data plan
I know that 3G is available for the iPad, but any true mobile device would really have this built in. I know the iPod Touch doesn’t have a 3G plan either, but the iPod Touch is more of a poor man’s iPhone or an iPod with touch capabilities than a true mobile device.
2. You should be able to use a mobile device comfortably with one hand
This goes for any smartphone and any iPod, Palm (do they even make those anymore?) and anything I can’t remember. If you can’t at least operate it 80% of the time with one hand, it’s not a true mobile device.
3. It’s too big
Super hard to carry the iPad in a pocket or to use under a table away from sight. Not that it’s too big for what it does, but I can’t see me whipping out an iPad to use one-handed to send texts during movies.
4. It’s not singularly focused
Mobile devices are usually phones or calendar-type devices, or game players. They don’t offer TV programming, email, videos, music, games and whatever else you can do on an iPad. The iPad is many things, singularly focused it is not.
5. It’s too heavy
I can carry my mobile devices for weeks without worrying about their weight. Unless I’m carrying a backpack, big bag or computer bag, the iPad would be a not go unnoticed. Hell, I can barely justify walking around with my Kindle.
The iPad is certainly a precursor to completely touch or motion-sensing computing, a an entertaining piece of hardware at that. It’s made Apple and its developers quite a bit of money and I see nothing but good things coming with iOS 4.2 and future models of the iPad, but the iPad is a new way of computing.
Developers should treat it as such.