Happy Birthday, iPad! When You Were Born, Everyone Hated You!

"We want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes." - Steve Jobs (1983)

“We want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes.” – Steve Jobs (1983)

Today is the iPad’s third birthday. It was on this consecrated day that Apple shipped the original iPad with WiFi. It’s hard to believe that Apple has invented and popularized an entirely new market in only three years, but it’s the truth. Tablets just weren’t a thing before the iPad, and now they’re cannibalizing PC sales. As Apple calls it, we’re in a post-PC era.

A lot of people mocked the iPad from the beginning. Sure, there were the faithful believes, but many wondered why anyone would want to use a limited, 10-inch slab of glass over a full-fledged laptop. It just didn’t make sense at the time. The iPhone and iPod touch filled the need for portable computing… or so we thought.

The question was, as always with Apple, whether the iPad could live up to all of the hype. Looking back, the answer is obvious: yes. The iPad has seen—and continues to see—monumental success, and competitors are still playing catch up.

In honor of the iPad’s birthday, let’s take a look at some of its early critics. As it turns out, the iPad was rather hated during its infancy:

“Not the company’s next huge growth story. Not now, anyway.”

Randall C. Kennedy at InfoWorldWhy Apple’s rumored iTablet will fail big time (Dec 22, 2009)

Tablet PCs suck. They’re underpowered, only marginally portable, and awkward to use in anything but a traditional seated position, with a desk to support them. Microsoft and its cadre of hardware partners have been trying for years to create a compelling tablet computing experience — and consistently failed. Yet this year, persistent rumors of an Apple tablet — an “iTablet” — created a real buzz. But to believe that Apple can somehow succeed where all others have failed is to ignore some fundamental realities of tablet computing.

Anthony Ha at VentureBeatTablets will fail, Google will pummel Microsoft (Jan 4, 2010)

Tablet computers will fail to become the Next Big Thing — They’ll get lots of attention, for sure. Apple’s tablet, unless the entire Internet is wrong, will redefine our expectations for the quality of text on a computer display. But a combination of high prices plus lack of a must-have application will keep most consumers away from buying a tablet.

Dan Frommer at Business InsiderThe Truth About Apple’s iPad: It’s A Big Yawn (Jan 27, 2010)

But in the end, Jobs introduced something that is probably going to sell in the range of a few million units this year, much closer to one of the company’s Macs than its runaway hits like the iPod and iPhone. Not the company’s next huge growth story. Not now, anyway.

Apple fans hoping for the next revolution — or investors hoping for the company’s next iPhone — should be disappointed.

Dan Lyons at NewsweekWhy the iPad is a Letdown (Jan 27, 2010)

At the very least, we had hoped a tablet from Apple would do something new, something we’ve never seen before. That’s not the case. Jobs and his team kept using words like “breakthrough” and “magical,” but the iPad is neither, at least not right now.

Jeremy A. Kaplan at Fox NewsHas Apple Lost Its Mojo? (Jan 28, 2010)

The company once notorious for its ability to upend convention and revolutionize markets may no longer have what it takes, worry some technology journalists. Call it the iPad or the iPlod, but the message seems clear: Apple may have lost its mojo.

John C. Dvorak at MarketWatchHello, giant iPod Touch (Jan 29, 2010)

Now that the fizz has dissipated regarding the Apple Inc. iPad, we can objectively look at the device and conclude that it probably will not have the impact on the market that the iPhone had. It’s cool, but no cooler than it’s progenitor, the iPod Touch.

In fact that’s what it really is, a giant iPod Touch. If you’ve been looking for a giant iPod Touch, this is the machine for you.

John C. Dvorak at MarketWatch (again): The iPad faces industry backlash (Feb 12, 2010)

The Apple iPad is not going to be the company’s next runaway best seller.

“It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’” – Bill Gates

Jim Louderback at The Huffington PostiPad Killer: Truly, Really, I mean It (Jan 6, 2011)

OK, it may sound like I’m the boy who cried wolf – but Motorola’s new XOOM tablet is poised to become THE best non iPad tablet on the market when it ships later this year.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz at The Motley FoolThis Is the Only Real iPad Challenger (July 7, 2011)

Apple doesn’t want you to know the truth. It doesn’t want you to realize that Steve Jobs’ “magical” toy is really just a Margaritaville frozen drink maker. It’s a novelty at first, but then it becomes something that you just whip out when guests come over.

And then there’s the infamous Bill Gates comment from Feburary 2010:

“It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it.’”

And that’s just a few examples.

Fast Forward

It’s clear that no one really understood the iPad’s real potential during the early days. Even our own dastardly handsome and cunning Charlie Sorrell called it “little more than a giant iPhone.” Now Charlie does arguably more on his iPad than anyone else who works at Cult of Mac.

Over the past three years, Apple has managed to change the world with the iPad—that’s for certain. Here’s to the next three years!

  • bdkennedy

    Thanks for saving the best for last. That sucking sound is his fortune being sucked out of his pockets.

  • daov2a

    I still despise the original iPad. The iPad 2,3, and 4: awesome. The original was slow and clumsy and worst of all, had no camera! I was glad to be rid of it. Certainly a revolutionary product; sure wish Apple still made those.

  • michaelmckenn14

    Apple needs its Haters it makes us better!

  • Dave Stephens

    The iPhone was obviously inferior and less useful generally than the iPad – just try drawing on an iPhone and then try it on an iPad and DUH. Smaller is weaker. Smaller screen is less useful. Etc.

    As for the the folks who knew of the iPhone’s success and yet predicted failure for the more useful iPad, well, it is easy to be stupid and dismissive, isn’t it? Most haters are…

  • Market_Mayhem

    My favorite is, “The iPad will be nothing but a short-lived fad.” I guess many people are still awaiting the return of the Windows netbook.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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