Steve Jobs did it again and announced a device, many people think will change the world. Well, I for one am still wondering what kind of use I might have for it. A few years ago while still working at University projects I had the chance to play around a little bit with a tablet PC running Windows XP and it was barely usable for what I wanted to do with it. Granted, Apple has done some miracles with the iPhone user interface, but what would I want to have mostly the same in 9.7" device without any real benefit?
Those 9.7" are beyond the sweet-spot where you don't need a separate bag (which I don't really mind) but already close enough to an area where I'd use a netbook. Since I can't see myself using an iPad somewhere in a metro to read stuff (compared to my iPhone or a definitely smaller eBook reader or [oh shock] a classic book), a netbook would do basically the same for me as that new wondrous device out of Cupertino.
During the keynotes Steve Jobs said that the new device must be better at a handful of key features than a laptop and an iPhone: browsing, email, photos, video, music, games and eBooks. He also said, that Netbooks don't apply here, since they don't do anything out of these better than a laptop. Well, so for me, neither does the iPad with the exception of eBooks. The difference here is, that with a laptop I can actually manipulate all that content, with the iPad as with the iPhone I get the feeling, it might only be good at viewing that content.
Jeff Gerstmann over at Giantbomb also mentioned something that kind of confused me during the Steve Notes:
It's a shame that Apple chose to show off a driving game (Need for Speed Shift) and a first-person shooter (Gameloft's NOVA), because those are perfect examples of what not to do on a platform without standard controls.
It's really weird why Apple always chooses racing games when showing off games for their handheld devices when games Star Defense or even simpler games work way better.
Don't get me wrong: Technologically this device is probably really nice and it was a total surprise to see it using a custom made chip, but I don't see it doing anything for me yet. The book store would have been a really nice feature but for now I'll probably just sit and wait and hopefully see it doing to the whole book world what iTunes did to the world of online music … so I don't mean hardcover prices, thank you. But for now, the iPad had to prevail in a fight with a netbook about space in my bag, a fight it can't really win right now. Also, because it doesn't even have standard USB ports to get photos onto it directly from a camera.
For home-use, the story looks a bit different since there I already have my laptop sitting on the table and might want to use something like the iPad while relaxing on the couch. Not something worth 500USD on, to be honest, but perhaps there might be something in the future that might change my opinion on this device ;-)
Again, what if all you want is a content device on your couch? Or if you don't need such a device to work with? Then the iPad is probably a really nice idea. Daniel Tenner described it as "tailored to those people who don't actually need a computer". So I'm simply not even remotely close to the target audience, it seems ;-)
P.S.: I'm also really disappointed that there was no new iWorks and iLife announced. I've been holding off updating my parents' Mac for quite some time now and waited right for this event :-(