While lots of analysts (see Forrester) and others complaining that the iPad doesn’t have this or that feature (e.g., multi-tasking, flash, etc.) and while people try to get their heads around how to think about the device — is it a netbook replacement or a big iPod Touch? — I would argue that it is in fact a revolutionary product that shows the way to the next generation of mobile computing.
It may however take up to a year or two to start to see that.
I’m not going to deny that version 1 is incomplete. But as with the iPhone, Apple will likely correct some of these things with software updates and the next hardware release (version 2). I, of course, could be wrong; the iPad could be another MacBook Air, a product with intense but limited appeal that sells moderately but does not become mainstream. The same is true for Apple TV, a product that should be better and doing better than it is.
I have argued that tablets and eBook readers are “frivolous” devices, unnecessary gizmos that are more fun than actually useful for most people. And that may equally be true here: I have a smartphone and a laptop, why do I need this?
But the larger screen, broad utility as a media player, and multi-function capability (in the kitchen, on the couch, in bed at night) makes this potentially very useful, as well as fun. People will need to hold and “use” it before they warm up to it. I have not held it in my hand; those who have remark about how fast it is. The speed of this device portends a much faster iPhone “4G.”
As a side note I was disappointed that the iPhone didn’t lose its AT&T exclusivity yesterday and surprised that for now the iPad 3G only works with AT&T’s network.
Other tablets have come before and failed, but this device will either succeed itself (I suspect so) or pave the way for a new class of larger-screen, internet connected devices. Consider how undernourished the Nokia N-900 seems by comparison to the iPad.
The keyboard is a potentially awkward aspect of this (because of the curved back, it won’t lie flat). Expect Nuance, Vlingo, maybe Tellme and Google voice search to compensate. The fact that apps work on it turns the device into a phone (though not a total mobile phone substitute because of its size).
It’s an eReader, a media player, a laptop substitute in most cases, an Internet device (with an unlimited data plan for $30 per month sans contract). Eventually people are going to recognize the value here and the larger screen will be appealing to consumers.
Somewhat ironically I would expect this to be a hit in the enterprise (not Apple’s area of strength usually). Developers will be able to build useful enterprise-centric apps (think medical, education, small biz). Its integrated hardware/software is going to make it more appealing than most competitive tablets, such as those using the Android OS or, for example, the HP Tablet announced by Microsoft at CES.
We saw Apple’s competitors take about two years to catch up to the iPhone (arguably still nothing holistically has). With that history in mind, we may see a range of devices based on Android try to more or less copy this device but adding in things like flash support to improve upon it.
Will it boot Kindle? No. Kindle will survive as a lower-cost single function device. Apps may make it more interesting over time, but Kindle can’t compete with this device outside of the eReader context. Kindle DX, however, is effectively dead.
The iPad will take a little time for people to get used to, but I predict they will and that Apple will likely have another hit on its hands.
There had been lots of hope that this device would generate revenues for traditional media. Because it’s an Internet device people will be able to get to the free web versions of publications (unless they throw up paywalls). It will then be incumbent on these publishers to build what amount to “big apps” for the iPad and related devices. (The NY Times demo’d such an app at the keynote yesterday.)
These specialized versions of publications will need to offer value-added content or information and will need to have terrific UI and design features. This way people will buy them/subscribe to them; if they offer an experience that’s clearly superior to the Web. If not, the money won’t come.