Now that the initial hype has died down, and we’re in the waiting period between the announcement and release….the iPad is the next big thing coming down the pike for Apple. Will it REALLY be the next big thing, or will it be another mis-step for Apple, ala the Newton or AppleTV?
Just like when the iPod was released…there were lots of MP3 players out there – I had a Rio that I loved…and most of the players were much cheaper…but what Apple did was make the content king – 99 cents a song, $10 an album, import your own CD’s, etc. I eventually broke down and bought my first of at least 5 iPods, and have a huge music and podcast library. I have essentially stopped listening to terrestrial radio, and use my iPod as my almost exclusive source of music/education/entertainment. I even download my favorite NPR programs like CarTalk, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell mMe, and Whaddya Know?
When Apple brought out the iPhone, they were stepping into a very crowded marketspace, and needed to do something unusual to make themselves stand out….which they did with a vengance. Again, they delivered the phone, but the twist was the applications. The App Store has over 130,000 applications (with over THREE BILLION downloads)ranging from news feeds like the New York Times to great games, a level, and even a public restroom locator. The phone itself is cool, but it’s what you can do with it that makes the difference.
The iPad (despite its unfortunate name, which was parodied back in 2006 on MadTV) shows significant promise. At first glance, it looks like a giant iPhone. Apple should have included a Bluetooth headset and included the phone hardware, but despite it being a potential future upgrade, it would be awfully hard to fit in your pocket. It is a somewhat confusing marketspace – is it an eReader like the Nook, Kindle or Sony Reader? Is it a tablet computer? Is it something new? That’s an obstacle for Apple to overcome. They’ve already taken two steps to overcome those potential objections….first is acquisition price. The rumored price was $999, with a discounted price for a wireless contract….but Apple cut that in half at $499 for the basic Wi-Fi model…ranging up to $830 for a full-blown, maxed out 64GB model with Wi-Fi and 3G access. Next, they set the monthly access at $30 unlimited (same as the iPhone data plan) but again, as little as half as much as other 3G providers. To put ‘one more thing’ on top of it, they threw in Wi-Fi access at all AT&T hotspots…which cost them nothing, but makes it even more attractive.
So, we’re all waiting for the official launch in late March (for the Wi-Fi device. 3G will be released in April). The lines may be long….or they may not. I’m going to wait and see….but I’ll probably be in after the first upgrade release…..