I don’t want to say too much about the iPad. It’s been covered plenty by more informed and eloquent bloggers than me, but I do want to talk about the ramifications a bit.
There seem to be two opinions on the iPad: the folks that say this is the future of computing, and the folks that say that first group is a bunch of rabid Apple fanboys that are willing to pay too much for an overgrown iPod Touch. There are some people in the middle, but they don’t seem to care in the least.
I fall into the first group, and maybe even with a hint of fanboy rabies.
Erin asked me the day before the iPad announcement why I was so excited about a device I probably wouldn’t buy, especially since I got a Kindle the week before. For me, it’s not about this device, I explained. The more important thing, I think, is what it will do for the industry. Let’s be honest: smart phones before the iPhone were not pleasant to use. Since it’s introduction, smart phones have improved across the board. Even if I don’t want what Apple is selling, lots of people will, and it forces the competition to step up their game - and that’s good news for us consumers. The iPad may not fundamentally change the world, but in a few months, you’ll be seeing people using them on subways and airplanes. How many times have you seen a Microsoft Surface in the wild?
So point one: the iPad is likely to inspire copycats and “iPad killers” that may or may not improve on the idea, but which move forward the ideal of personal computing in some way.
Point two: iPads (or the new class of devices into which the iPad falls) will change the way we do a lot of things in our daily lives. This is from The Unofficial Apple Weblog:
You know, at first I wasn’t so impressed with the iPad, but the more I thought about the ways in which you can use it, the more excited I got. As a piece of leisure technology - something you just have laying around your living room like a newspaper - it’s a lot more user friendly than a laptop or an iPhone.
I don’t see the iPad making a lot of headway in that space in the near future. Most people won’t spend over $500 for a device that falls somewhere between a glorified toy and a wimpy laptop; lots of geeks will, but not many regular people. I expect this type of device to be used in business environments a lot more, because it really does fit a space between phones and laptops that isn’t adequately addressed by netbooks. There are tons of things that could have been done on the iPhone, but for screen size, or on a netbook, but for horsepower and usability, and the iPad is going to exploit those areas.
Consider a doctor’s office. Docs could use an app that allows them to carry around their patient files for the day, along with every medical reference worth converting to digital media. A netbook might work, but in terms of speed and ease of use, an iPad makes more sense: the doctor can quickly tap around to look things up, make notes, and share information with their patient. The form factor makes it easier for someone to share what they’re looking at with another person.
Or, consider a conference with an expo hall. Conference staff greet attendees as they arrive and check them in on the spot, without having to deal with long lines at the registration counters. The exhibitors have a couple each to collect sales leads and show off product demo videos and things like that. If exhibitors are selling products, it can be used as a point of sale.
Most of the comments I’ve read about the iPad this past week are about how people will use it at home and how it will compete with the Kindle and netbooks that are already on the market. I’m much more interested to see what kind of business application come out of it, because I really think that the iPad is a lot more accessible for any kind of face-to-face uses like these.