Steve Jobs just unveiled a new Apple iPad tablet - the iPad - with a 9.7 inch screen and weight of 1.5 pounds. Virtually all the rumors were right - I blogged about the potential screen sizes just this week in fact. The half-inch thick device is powered by an Apple processor - the 1 GHz A4 and can last ten hours on a single charge.
I am as excited as any tech enthusiast would be about a new Apple gadget which hopes to create massive success in a nascent category - tablet computers. I have always been passionate about tablets -- you may remember I actually launched the first event in the Tablet PC space back in 2003 - Tablet PC Summit.
The entire tablet space as well as the event were not viable at the time as consumers just didn't buy these devices in volume.
But things are different today because we know there seems to be demand for e-readers as evidenced primarily by the success of Amazon's Kindle.
But beyond reading books, one has to wonder if the time is now right for mass adoption of tablets.
At a price point starting at $499 we could be witnessing a netbook killer - albeit at a much higher cost. Certainly we can expect web surfing and consumption of text and multimedia content to be a huge part of the activities which device users will partake in. Personally I hope to see the iPad become the ultimate companion to television - where multiple channels will be viewed on the screen of this new Apple gadget and flicking a window at the direction of a TV will get the television to play the program and/or channel.
Likewise for flicking an article to a printer to get it to print or flicking it to another device to have it transferred to it, etc.
I knew right off the bat that the iPhone would be a tremendous success - I can't say the same for the iPad. It is very much like a laptop and Apple already makes laptops.
So I have to go back to e-reader/netbook market - my money is on Apple seeing success with customers in these segments. But I am really having trouble understanding how this could be a product with mass appeal in the tens of millions of units -- not replacements but new purchases. Sure it runs iPhone apps but will this be enough to make it very popular I wonder? Moreover, the UI is pretty slick as you can see from the video below -- but doesn't that just mean that the typical iPad buyer is yesterday's Apple laptop buyer?
As always, time will tell and remember, betting against Steve Jobs has been a losing proposition this past decade. Also keep in mind I already said I would likely buy one based on my past experience with the iPhone. Will it be a success? One has to imagine the odds are still in Steve's favor going forward.