My thoughts on the iPad are similar to my thoughts on the iPhone upon its first release: its about the possibilities of the hardware, not the software itself. It’s about the modality of the device rather than the specifics of what we think others will use it for.
The iPhone on its first ever release, with 1.0 software had barely one screen of applications. It had no Exchange support, no push e-mail, no copy/paste, very little in the way of batch operations. It was a template for what the device could be, applied to hardware that held its promise.
The iPad is the same thing. From what we’ve seen, in terms of the mode of its representation, it fits exactly what we saw from the iPhone: an empty screen of apps coupled to hardware which at once seems obvious and new.*
All the criticism points to the “do I need this.” That isn’t the right question to ask. The right question to as is “what can this do?”
Software wise, iPhone OS 3.2 has the same limitations as 3.1.2, just with more screen. TO focus on that is missing the point completely. We all know, without a doubt that multitasking is coming, as is a higher pixel density on the basic iPhone. We know that a lot of what is valued from Android and other platforms will make its way to the iPhone and iPad. We know this for the same reason we all knew that when iPhone OS 1.0 was released, an app-store was coming, as well as copy/paste.
Why isn’t it here now? Because its not perfect. The same reason the iPad hasn’t come until now. The same reason that the iPhone copy/paste didn’t come for a bit.
Now, the iPad. The fact that people are spending so much virtual ink about “do we need this, do people need this?” misses the point. People didn’t need a better phone. A phone was a phone. And yet, people need and covet their iPhone. The iPhone has transcended what people judged it on: a PDA and a phone. It has become a general purpose device more in line with the usage of netbooks than phones. The iPad likewise will transcend what people are judging it by.
My parents, wife and others all expressed their intrinsic “want” for the device. They want it because (for my mom), it’ll be great for reading and browsing the web without overhead of a laptop when on a plane or at home. For my dad, its a simple way to do what he does most with a computer. For me, it’ll be a great home automation device, Slingplayer, lights controller, Sonos controller, Facebook/Email device for my wife and e-book reader.
It’s telling when the results of a product release is more confusion than jubilation. Confusion leads to innovation as people try to wrestle with a concept. The iPad just opened up twice as many pixels and many times the amount of processor power to the promise and concept of innovation.
I can’t wait to get started working on it.
* The lack of a camera on this device and the iPod Touch are befuddling though.