The long-awaited iPad, the tablet computer from Apple had its coming out party this afternoon and for a while, I wondered if the event was even worth watching. For the first half hour, Jobs droned on about web pages, video and email like they were some fantastic new phenomena we should all be wowed about. Finally, he got to the good stuff, the specs, the content, the apps, the price, the price!
But ultimately this an oversized iphone. It has some sweet little touches that Apple always manages to put into its devices, and it supports a keyboard, which is a must if this going to be a business device (I think it will be), but is it enough? Will this thing sell like iPhones? I'm not so sure.
It's Not Really an eBook Reader
While the device, has an ebook application, and it introduces an iTunes-like store for books (powered by a deal with several major publishing houses), it's not an eBook Reader. It will encompass many different functions into a single device, something that could push buyers who were on the fence about an eBook Reader. Analyst Michael Gartenberg said this device will put pressure on single-purpose devices like the Amazon Kindle. "The iPad challenges dedicated devices. It leverages multiple devices, and therefore it will be attractive to buyers."
Dude, Where's my iPhone
I think there's some truth to what Gartenberg says, but I also think I already have an iPhone in my pocket that has many of the same functions as the iPad. Sure it's a small screen, but I've watched video on it, read books, played games and done most of what they are trying to sell me on the iPad and I already own it. What's more I'm already paying $30 a month to AT&T for my data plan. The last thing I'm going to do is give that company one more dime, of that you can be sure.
But Gartenberg believes Apple's true aim here is to find a wider market for Apple's product and services. "This will help sell other apple products and services and other products and services will drive sales of the device." Maybe so, but I was stunned when Jobs tried to sell this thing by trashing the "smart phone." Don't forget his company is making a hefty living off the iPhone.
Content Partners Are Promising
When you look at apps like the New York Times on the iPad, it takes news to a whole new level, one that even the iPhone hasn't reached, and that will be Apple's challenge here. For the first half hour, I was incredulous that Jobs was simply recycling his 2007 iPhone speech. What Apple must do is make this device so much more than iPhone. It must take it a step beyond. So far, it's only done that on a couple of levels, and that's not enough, at least to me.
The price looks amazing unless you look at it the way my friend Julie Roads did when she scoffed that they leaked the $1000 price tag so that everyone would be floored and running to buy what suddenly seemed like the deal of the century when they came in at half that. I wouldn't be surprised.
Gartenberg believes that by hitting the right price points, Apple has given this device category a reason to exist. I'm still not convinced it has one, low price or not. I'm sure the early adopter crowd will grab theirs right away, but I'm left wondering if after really giving it serious thought, if the many of us who own iPhones are going to be getting an iPad any time soon. I could be wrong of course, but I just don't get a good feeling about this one. Sorry Apple.