With all the hype surrounding the Apple iPad it was almost impossible for any device to live up to the expectations everyone has built up with the various rumors and consumer wish lists.
Almost as quickly as the product was unveiled there were already mounds of press both positive and negative discussing the merits and drawbacks of the device. It was interesting to read these accounts especially considering the lack of hands-on experience these writers had with the iPad.
I have to admit I am more than mildly intrigued by this announcement and I can already see several applications for its unique form factor. Even with my tempered enthusiasm I recognize this is not a technology panacea that will be everything to everyone.
So far I have heard laments the device is too large while others complain it is not large enough. There are numerous complaints regarding what the device includes or does not include especially with regards to ports.
There were contingents complaining the iPad did not have a USB port, an SD card reader, a built-in keyboard, a hard drive, an HDMI connection, a camera, stereo speakers, multitasking, or Mac OS X. I even read one report blasting the iPad because it did not run Microsoft Windows Mobile.
Clearly Apple is learning once again, no matter what you introduce there are going to be detractors that will find fault with every design decision made. It is impossible to design or build the perfect device.
The diversity of the complaints of what the device includes or doesn’t include suggest Apple may be defining a new market segment. The iPad does not fit well in any current product category.
People who view the iPad as a computer attempt to compare it to the Apple MacBook or MacBook Air. They begin rattling off all of the features or functions found on a laptop that do not exist on the iPad.
Others look at this as a mobile communication devices ala an iPhone. They complain it lacks a camera, the form factor is too big, and the device includes too many unnecessary components.
Many of these arguments were similarly waged when the iPod came out. No one knew what it was supposed to be and therefore could not grasp the concept. It was not until the market began to evolve and users became familiar with where the iPod could fit within their lives did the device begin making strides in the market.
I predict a similar flow for the iPad. A few early adopters will take up the iPad and begin to establish where its capabilities fit in society’s information model. This coupled with applications that can take advantage of the iPad’s unique technology will hopefully help to define the market parameters and where the iPad makes sense.