General Technology, Innovation, Technology

First impressions of the Apple iPad

An Apple iPad is currently selling at a rate of one every three seconds. Since its launch in April, over two million have sold. These are numbers for the United States alone! It is only beginning to become available in other countries, so the pace of sales will gather further speed. In a good economy this kind of sales volume would be good. In a bad economy that’s close to phenomenal.

Of course, because of my work and interest in new technology I had to get one too. There is an obvious attraction to gadgets and new shiny things for many of us, but it seems to me that the unprecedented interest in the iPad goes way beyond a niche level of curiosity. The iPad, despite some early criticism about its name and some folks saying it was simply “a big iPhone,” has emerged victorious in the battle for hearts and minds (and frankly people parting with their cash). Apple are tapping into something important and those of us in the technology sector had better figure it out soon.

I will admit I am impressed. Apple, among a relatively small set of organizations consistently delivers a high quality product. The iPad does not disappoint. I don’t intend to review the product here, but simply convey some of my initial observations.

The iPad is certainly not a replacement for any other device that I have. That’s not a surprise. Apples intent, as well as others entering the Tablet computing space, is to deliberately create a new platform and not replace an existing one. Yes, it creates a new revenue channel for these providers, but it also fills some gaps that neither the PC nor the smartphone can easily meet. The iPad positions itself for easy consumption of content, whether text, audio, pictures or video and it is simple enough to pick-up, boot in a few seconds, and use without instruction. The beautiful screen, the touch-screen interface, and its overall ease-of-use, are highly attractive features. Surprisingly, it innovates by doing less and doing it better. The product isn’t perfect and as a technologist who likes to personalize his computing environment it feels more like an appliance with limited ability to customize. However, as a version 1.0, it’s pretty slick.

To compliment the hardware, they have created and championed an ecosystem of third-party developers that are deploying highly innovative solutions that are, once again, generally easy to access and use. Apple won’t be the only player in this market, but for now they have a considerable head start. Keep an eye out for other big technology shops making announcements in tablet computing. The competition will be robust and ultimately healthy for the consumer.

While it is too early to tell, the real promise of the iPad is yet to come. It will be used in ways that none of us can think of right now. To me that’s the most exciting thing about new technology: it creates the turns that guide the future. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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