I have been wanting an iPad for two years now, ever since I started looking at surface computing. Finally, here is the real platform.
Ordinary people, who are not called to think beyond consumer stuff, and this includes just about every mainstream tech writer, will not get it. But if on occasion, one is called to be a visionary or one is at the top of a stack of mature technology, then you may see some of what I see in the future of this new computing paradigm. I have been speculating for a few years about the classes of applications that this platform will serve and I'm very glad that Jobs has made this happen. It's going to be huge.
One can immediately and easily say and see how the iPad is a Kindle killer. It is not. It is simply the high end device that is getting about as high end as it is possible to get for handheld touch. Let's think about that for a moment - because Apple's pricing is phenomenal. When could the absolute highest end device for a brand new technology introduction be had for under 900 bucks? To tell you the truth, I think Jobs is actually rather amazed himself. The Kindle and other eBook readers will survive just fine. I have the basic G2 Kindle and at $250, it was an easy and worthwhile purchase. I'm having no regrets. I didn't expect for the Kindle to do web browsing, and it is marginally better than that old CLI browser, Lynx. But the free Whispernet is worth its weight in gold, as is the multi-day standby battery life, not to mention the wealth of 99 cent books. I haven't seen the marketing detail for the iBookstore, but the overview looks extraordinarily retarded and retro, like a screenshot from Myst. Wrong-o Charlie Brown. However, like the iTunes store and iTunes itself, a lot of maturity is on tap for the future. Apple will have to earn its way forward in the eBook world, and it will not kill the Kindle any more than the iPhone killed Nokia.
The bold and proper pitch for the iPad is the consuming experience which has never been quite distinguished from the producing experience. So far all personal computers have striven to be all things to all people. Surely product lines have emerged over the years to make distinctions between business computing, home computing, gaming and mobile computing, but here finally is the right device to do it. "IPod Touch on steroids" is truly a positive way of thinking about the machine. A year ago, when I was working the combination of the Treo and the Touch, I was extraordinarily grateful for the ability to browse on the Apple device. I was frustrated by the lack of free wifi, and so chose my lunch locations with that in mind. Getting the iPhone last summer cleared all that problem up. This Christmas, I got the Kindle and it's a great reading experience - all about the format - but not quite the browsing experience I'd want. So Jobs and Apple are right on in placing this product between phones and laptops. Three devices are not too many. The phone is always with you, the iPad goes to lunch, the laptop stays in the office until the weekend.
So all in all, Apple is correct in making this device a sweetspot between work production devices and smart phones. As an all purpose browsing and media consumption device, it is what people will want when and if they become mature sophisticated consumers of digital content. I'm not convinced that it will be a stellar gaming platform, but it certainly will do what slates before it did not.
Next time I talk about the Pad, it will be with an angle towards the kinds of applications touch will bring out in this two handed format. Beyond the content deals that are certainly being negotiated as Apple counts its pre-orders, that's going to be the next big thing.