Well, let the rumors die: Apple’s come out with a new tablet–the iPad. And I have to go on record as saying I think it’ll be about as successful as Apple’s other tablet–the Newton. Maybe a bit more, just since Apple’s so dang famous nowadays. Why? Because instead of scaling down a MacBook, they scaled up the iPhone/iPod Touch, and made this thing that lacks the portability of the latter and the power of the former. There’s no support for Flash. There’s no support for non-App Store approved applications. There’s not even a ruttin’ keyboard! Is it a great web browser? Yes. A pretty good media player? Yes. A decent ebook reader? Yes. But Apple, listen up–real people have work to do, and can’t spend their days idly watching movies and Facebook/Twitter/Reddit/Digg/Fark/StumbleUpon/MetaFilter-ing. Real people have to write emails, they have to write documents, they have to make spreadsheets, and they don’t have time for touch-screen based shenanigans. And AFAIK, the iPad doesn’t even implement the killer feature of touch screens–handwriting recognition/saving. With a stylus, not a fingernail.
So I don’t really see this taking off except as an expensive indulgence, a, to quote Charlie Brooker, “Fisher-Price activity centre for adults.”
Still–it will take off as an expensive indulgence. If people have the money, it would make sense to own a laptop and an iPad. One for work and one for play. I’m sure the boot speed is going to be impressive, and I really like the idea of being able to whip this out of a backpack (or whatever) and browse the web for half an hour in a coffee shop. Or maybe read an ebook while commuting )if I still lived in Spain and used public transportation). Or watch a TV show if I’m too lazy to get out off bed on a quiet Saturday morning. Multi-purpose machines are always better at some things than others, and owning two would let each one be used for the things it excels at*. And let’s remember this is Apple we’re talking about–they know all about making fancy, expensive stuff that can be criticized with all the logic in the world, but is just pleasant to use. So I don’t think it’s a lost cause–I just don’t think it’ll go over with the average Joe.
* Note: To be honest, I think Kindles et al. are still much better at ebooks–mainly because of the easier-on-the-eyes display, and also because of the battery.