I watched with interest parts of the launch of Apple's new iPad (Steve Jobs still look frail, and his voice is very hoarse). It has met with mixed reaction - but it has no doubt hit a huge "WOW!" factor. Me - I can't wait until I try one out.
It most closely resembles the iPhone - so I probably have a reasonable idea on how it works. Apple have placed huge emphasis on its usability, ie "with just a touch of a finger". It certainly looks good, final judgement on this will have to be when I get my hands on it. I think its real power is that it will be so easy for people to carry around - at 0.68 kg it is a truly powerful portable device. I'm thinking in particular that students will make spectacular use of this device - both for College and non-College purposes. It does have an iWork productivity tool suite (not bundled) - while you can import Microsoft Office documents and work on them, no sign yet of Office being available on the iPad. This might be a crucial issue for the success of this as a tool in business. No doubt Microsoft will develop an Office suite for the iPad - at the very least to oppose the inevitable rise of free and cheap imitations on the App Store. Luckily for them Apple have decided that iWork is an extra and will have to be paid for separately.
A few comments from others that I think capture how valuable this device could be:
Elliott Masie focuses on how the iPad might support learning:
Whatever the Apple Tablet might do technologically, The MASIE Center’s Learning LAB is focusing on how content such as manuals, learning programs and even Performer Support might be impacted. As a trustee of a college, I would be fascinated to imagine students buying articles or textbooks in a totally new model. And, what if a new model for learning content modules might emerge in which a Learning App could be purchased for $1 or $3? Think of developers around the world focusing on ever better ways of supporting learning about millions of topics.
George Siemens looks at its place in the digital world:
The real story of Apple’s iPad is not the device itself. Rather, the long-term impact is that many of the information structures of the physical world – books and newspapers – now have a place in the digital world, as well as a revenue model online. Apple possesses the mystical ability to charge for content. For example, many people who would balk at paying for $10 software for their desktop/laptop had no problem paying hundreds of dollars for iPhone apps (I’m looking at myself here – which does cause a bit of eye strain). Similarly, books, newspapers, and information online will now fall under the control of Apple. Think of this for a second. Apple, if the uptake of the iPad is as significant as many expect, becomes the central node through which content (books, newspapers, movies, music) flows for many people who a) don’t know or care what a torrent is and b) who like their devices nicely integrated and easy to use.
But perhaps the most telling comment comes from Damien Mulley in his post Our Mums are about to join the web:
"...is going to make using the web easy for people who up to know found using a mouse, keyboard and a browser a tad intimidating."
...and he interestingly speculates on the possible impact of the iPad on the iTouch.