I previously suggested that the iPad was best thought of as an eBook reader with extras.
In my opinion, the success or otherwise of the #ipad depends on whether they make books available in the store for normal computers / iPhone12:29 PM Jan 27th from Tweetie
My thinking at the time was that if they released the Apple negotiated books catalogue through a laptop based app or on the iPhone, it could seriously harm the unique value proposition of the iPad. In hindsight, I think I was a little off target. I had considered but, I think, underestimated the value of apps in the context of the the iPad.
Thinking about it a little more (and probably with the benefit of 2 weeks post-launch observation) it seems to me that the iPad is best thought of as a couch-top domestic device.
First: Taking our household as a representative user group (which the UCD-er in me is loath to do) we spend a lot the time we have left (after we spend most of our time working and chasing around our 5 year old) at home between the couch, kitchen, bedroom.
We both have iPhones and we spend a lot of time checking news or blogs, playing games or doing quick updates on Twitter etc. The iphone is great for this in that it is portable but it is a little small for most web browsing. The iPad form factor is ideally suited to just plonking on the couch and quickly checking... "stuff". You don't need to mess around with laptop boot-up times or compromised battery life, just grab the iPad when you have a moment.
There are a couple of other things that suggest Apple was thinking "domestic device" too: 1. Initial models lack 3G.Surely this must be the biggest clue. Apple does not expect that you will be standing up on a crowded bus reading news article or whipping out your iPad to check that movie time as you dash to make the session. Certainly, we wouldn't expect to see it running the maps app on a car dashboard.
3. Only the truly fanatical will carry a laptop, iPhone and iPad in their bagIt is simply too much to carry around and Apple have already priced the iPad as a device for the masses.
4. It is an open niche and Apple is looking for a nicheThe iPad is not designed to replace your laptop. Apple have stated this is a deliberate intention. They are still making good money out of their laptops and would be crazy to cannibalise this market. Furthermore, the virtual keyboard and lying down form factor is simply not appropriate for sustained office work. The keyboard dock is a minor concession here and I suspect it will not be used extensively. Nor does Apple wish to chew into the iPhone market considerably with a lower priced device.
Having said all of this, the iPod and iPhone ended up becoming something much more than Apple ever envisaged so it is likely that the iPad will transcend such restrictive pigeon-holing.
None of this negates the desirability for us by the way - I can see one fitting right in.
...but I wonder if it might become a one-per-household thing as a result. We might consequently see more apps that pair the iPad up with an iPhone for collaborative localised gaming.