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Can anything or anyone stop Apple? There's no doubt Apple is the clear industry leader in mobile devices. It all started with the iPod, which turned MP3 players from geek to chic. That was further enhanced with the release of the ultra-slick iPod Touch which, perhaps more importantly, set the platform for Apple's best device yet: the iPhone. And how could you not be impressed by the iPhone, with its elegant styling, multi-touch screen and impressive range of software from Apple's online App Store?

Now there's the iPad, the new tablet computer, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs promises will be "a magical and revolutionary device". Basically, the iPad is a larger version of the iPhone, with a 9.56in screen and the key aim of providing a better visual experience web browsing, photo and video viewing, gaming and ebook reading. The latter is vital to the iPad's success, with Apple launching a complementary iBook store, going head to head with and its Kindle ebook reader.

Importantly, iPhone apps are supposed to be compatible with the iPad, but Apple has gone further by adding an iPad version of its iWork suite, including a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation program. Clearly, this is an ambitious device. As Steve Jobs said at the iPad announcement: "It needs to be better than a laptop and a smartphone, otherwise it's got no reason for being".

Some critics, on the other hand, are calling it "just a big iPhone". They point to Apple's previous failures, such as the Newton, its handheld computer of the '90s, and the AppleTV its more recent network media player, which hardly took the market by storm.

However, personally I think both the critics and Jobs's hyperbole miss the point. The iPad doesn't have to be better than a laptop and I don't mind if it's just a big iPhone. Adding a bigger screen to an iPhone is by default going to make it better for viewing books, web sites, video and other media. While some critics were disappointed by the screen resolution (1,024 x 768 pixels), I reckon it's fine for this type of device - I certainly wouldn't want an electronic reader/ viewer that's any bigger than the iPad (680g).

Initially, I was sceptical about ebook readers, but now that I've experienced the benefits of the Kindle first hand, I'm looking forward to life without bulky paper books and being able to carry my library with me. I'm excited by the possibility, sometime in the future, of producing an electronic magazine. The iPad promises to take this further as an all-in-one reader/viewer, with the added benefits of proper web browsing and the many iPhone apps available.

However, I do have one serious concern about what Apple is doing. I'm worried about Apple's iron grip over third-party applications for iPhones and iPads. In an App Store crackdown, Apple removed more than 5,000 apps and began rejecting apps with "overtly sexual content" or "with minimum user functionality" (see ban). There's nothing wrong with that as such-Apple has every right to do what it wants with its online store and who's going to miss some dodgy apps?

The problem is that mere's no alternative method of distribution. With PCs and previous Mac computers, we've been free to install compatible applications from anywhere. Even with iPods, we weren't completely locked into the iTunes store because we could still rip audio CDs. However, Apple's App Store is the only source of apps for iPhones and iPads.

It makes me wonder about some of the iPad's limitations, such as no USB port and no support for Adobe Flash or Java. While Steve Jobs says Apple doesn't support Flash "because it is so buggy" (see http://tinyurl. com/jobs-flash), he doesn't mention the other benefit to Apple: that Flash-based competitors to App Store apps can't run on iPhones or iPads.

Which brings me back to my original question: can anything or anyone stop Apple? Microsoft has recently announced Windows Phone 7, its new mobile operating system that has some pundits excited (, and there have been a raft of iPad competitors announced (see http://

However, it's Google's mobile operating system, Android, that is shaping up to be the most serious Apple competitor at this stage. Android has seen remarkable growth in the US (see] and Google's own phone, the Nexus One, is quite impressive (see our review on page 97). Already there are thousands of Android apps available and while it still lags Apple's App Store by a big margin, Google's more open platform is unlikely to discourage software developers from contributing more.

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Source Citation
"Apple's Next Revolution; Glenn Rees wonders if anyone can stop Apple from dominating the next big market - tablet computers." Australian PC User 5 May 2010. General OneFile. Web. 7 May 2010.
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