"Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it." This quote of perfection by WSJ writer Martin Peers accurately encompasses the impact Apple has in the mobile device market, and the omnipotent presence they possess among the tech-savvy.
For the past few months, rumors of Apple entering the tablet game have been floating around respected publications and online magazines, likely producing apprehensive pit stains under the arms of Amazon execs and causing Apple groupies to salivate in anticipation.
On January 27th, Apple CEO Steve Jobs laid the tablet rumors to rest by revealing the third recruit in Apple's mobile army (iPhone and iPod being one and MacBooks being the other): the iPad. Calling it a "truly magical" experience, Jobs emphasized that to become a success, the iPad must bear qualities which are greater than both a laptop and a smartphone. These qualities consist of "the best browsing experience you've ever had," intuitive e-mail support, superlative gaming, video, and music, and will define how eBooks are purchased and read.
Jobs also announced that these magical iPads will be released to the public in late March.
The iPad weighs in at 1.5 pounds, is 0.5 inches thin, illuminates a 9.7 inch display screen with HD capability, and holds 10 hours of battery life. Essentially working like a stretched out iPod Touch, the iPad syncs directly with iTunes, allowing the transfer of music, video, and previously downloaded applications. A touch enabled keyboard is also a part of the pizazz, with Jobs saying, "It's a dream to type on."
More than likely competing with the more economically feasible Amazon Kindle ($259), Apple has provided multiple pricing options depending on your iPad cravings. Starting with the basics - meaning WiFi only - a 16GB iPad will run you $499. The WiFi only models are also available in a 32GB and 64Gb model, priced at $599 and $699 respectively.
The Internet addicts out there will be delighted to know that their addiction needs will be fed through the the high-end iPad version: WiFi + 3G. A 16, 32, and 64GB Wifi + 3G iPad will set you back $629, $729, or $829, depending on your needs.
Staying true to the AT&T-iPhone brotherhood, Jobs mentioned the iPad will be activated through AT&T by purchasing one of two contract-free plans: 1) unlimited data for 29.99 and 2) 250MB of data for 14.99. These plans will be available in the U.S. only until Apple reaches an international agreement, which is expected to happen around June or July.
Who will buy the iPad?
With projected sales at 2 million for 2010 and increasing to 6 million by 2011, many analysts are wondering who is actually going to purchase the iPad. One of the most commonly praised answers, given the fluctuating price range and lifestyle adherence, is the middle-aged. Specifically, plane-hopping travel-warriors are expected to attack the soon to be released iPad which compliments their carry-on way of life. Digital friendly parents are also predicted to jump on the iPad wagon, in hopes of using the iPad as some sort of digital distraction for their kids.
Will the iPad live up to the hype?
Given the fact there are about two more months until the release of the device that seems like it should change the world, the buzz is likely to fizzle away and the truth behind the iPad will show its informative face. Criticisms about the iPad are already surfacing and some consumers are calling the device "underwhelming."
Either way, positive or negative, people should remember that this is the first release of the iPad, and its capabilities, along with features, will become more customized for the consumer. Apple should feel satisfied with their first take at the tablet, but needs to examine the negative reviews closely and determine how they can turn this pessimistic banter into future innovation. If not, Apple will likely be forced to change the name from iPad to iFad.