It's a console.
Apple's iPad, which launched today to much fanfare, is simply an enabling platform. Those who have the iPhone or iPod Touch, know what it's like, for the most part, to use the iPad.
Sure, the iPad's got a much larger screen, and a faster processor, and even 3G, but it's just a bigger iPod Touch.
The killer application for the iPhone, was in fact, its ability to fit right into your pocket. Can you see yourself grabbing an iPad while you dash out your front door? Not me. It's big. And I already have my notebook, which also happens to be a MacBook Pro. Sure, call me an Apple fanboy, I don't care. My main desktop is in fact, a custom built PC. But even someone like me who has an Apple product, I can't vouch for the iPad.
The most critical point about the iPad, is the fact that it can't multi-task. Like the iPod Touch and the iPhone, it can only run one application at any given time. Despite having a powerful CPU on the inside, the iPad is crippled because of its operating system, the same operating system behind the iPhone. Fundamentally, if you already have a notebook and an iPhone, the iPad will have a difficult time finding a place in your daily routine.
Let's all say it together now: no multi-tasking? What the bleep?
The iPad is a console, in every sense of the word. The real money maker for Apple, is the App Store, iBook store, and iTunes store. The iPad will capture the audiences that the iPhone/iPod Touch wasn't, and then some. It'll also capture the core Apple audience too. I've talked to a few real Apple fans today, and even they difficulty wrapping their heads around the iPad.
The iPad is a closed system. You can't do anything you want to it. Apps must be from the App Store. Like an SNES, or a PS3, software must be sanctioned. And like consoles, only one game can be played at any given time. And Like those consoles makers, the money is in the software (for consoles, it was the license to make software).
The iTunes store, the App store, and now the iBook store. Even if Apple sold each iPad for $50, it would make back its losses in a very short time period.
Truth be told, the magic should have been in the software. Given that the iPad is a tablet, we can understand that it doesn't have a keyboard. But not to be able to let its owner run more than one app is a miserable thing. The OS could have been so much more for the iPad. What the iPad should have shipped with, was OS X, with a tablet designed UI--not a tablet, with the iPhone OS.
Like a console though, it almost doesn't matter. It's all about getting people onto the App Store and making small payments, but a lot of small payments. One closed system, many software purchases. And because of the iPhone's already enormous popularity, it's not hard to convince just even those users, to hop on the iPad.
No doubt, there will be some instances where the iPad can deliver some unique uses. For many mainstream users who either just chat, email, or browse, the iPad may be OK. But for power users who love their software and want to get things done, there are alternatives.
Did I mention you can at least chat while playing games on current generation consoles?