The unprecedented furore surrounding the launch of Apple’s new iPad has led to an equally unprecedented amount of coverage, both off and online.

I couldn’t prevent myself joining in as we all struggle to define what
this device is, how valuable it is, how capable it is and what, if any,
its affect will be on the IT landscape.[more]

I am no Apple apologist,
and agree with the slightly trite description of it as “a giant iPod
touch”, which, on the face of it, seems thoroughly underwhelming.  But
it’s the failure of this appliance to be neatly pigeon-holed that
interests me the most.  What is a giant iPod touch to the world, what are the use-cases and does the world need one?

One thing that is undeniably clear is that it is not a computer in the conventional meaning of the world – a Personal Computer
(PC).  If you need to run Windows or Mac OS X software, need a camera,
web-cam, multi-tasking or a keyboard then what you need is a PC
(Windows or Mac).  A netbook does all of those thing and most are
cheaper than the entry level 499 USD model.

if you need those features the chances are you are involved in the
creation of content in some way or another, perhaps writing,
developing, blogging or photography etc.  A PC is a content creator, the iPad, if anything is a content consumer.

If your needs don’t extend beyond web surfing, music (Spotify / iTunes), movies (iTunes again), updating your Facebook status and the occasional 140 character tweet
this device is ideal.  A touch screen is a very natural way of
interacting with the web, and the thousands of Apps that are available
will allow you to bring just enough personalization and customization
to streamline your common tasks and make the device your own, to say
nothing of the casual gaming potential.

In an age where more
of us than ever are creating content of one kind or another it seems
hamstrung and limited compared to our Personal Computers.  I feel that
the third category of device that Apple has strived to create needs a
new classification, that, perhaps, of a “Passive Computer” -not very
complimentary perhaps, but a fair description of its’ strengths.  A
device we relax on the sofa with, or sit in a cafe, a device we read or
watch TV on, a device where we aren’t likely to do much more than
answer a few emails, but removed from the limitations of a phone-sized

I admit the nod to productivity provided by the iPad Keyboard adapter and the ten buck copies of iWork
show signs that Apple hope this device can be more, but I find it hard
to believe that anyone with access to both a laptop and an iPad will do
their spreadsheet and document work on the latter – but, hey, I haven’t
tried it yet.

I firmly believe that a “giant iPod Touch” has a
place, not amongst the IT workers and technorati, unless they are
consciously deciding to take some down-time, but next to the couch of,
or in the bag of, the less savvy and demanding.  Good boot times,
decent battery life, so-easy-a-child-can-use-it interface, few security
concerns, no spyware and no viruses.  If I gave one of these to
everyone in my immediate family I would expect the number of “support
calls” I receive to drop by two thirds, after all, they never call for
help with their iPhones – only their rotting, spyware encrusted Windows
PCs.  Oh, but it doesn’t run Flash?

Thank heavens for that.


Excellent adjunct to my article:

Makes me wonder if the iPad is only going to end up in the laps of those that don’t want to embrace Web 2.0.