In the few hours since the Apple iPad was announced, there has been a flurry of commentary about it, although few people have even used it yet. Here is what I think based on what I’ve seen so far, and how I see a device like this effecting me:
This will eliminate the need to carry books. Like many people who travel, I usually have books I carry with me. If you have ever had to carry a box of books while moving, you know they are heavy. Once you collect a few books, they become a big pain in the ass. The iPad not only eliminates the need to carry books (and probably guidebooks) but it also gives me instant, worldwide access to a giant English language bookstore, which is hard to find in many countries. Also, iBook (the new software) uses the open ePub standard, which Amazon doesn’t. In terms of competing with the Amazon Kindle, I’d say this kicks the Kindle’s ass. Most people who are pointing out the flaws are totally ignoring the use this device has an ebook reader. If you are a long term traveler, then this is a very big deal.
Sharing Photos. Perhaps the most valuable use for my iPod Touch and iPhone for (yes I have both) is showing other people my travel photos. Hands down. It is entertaining and I get a certain satisfaction at seeing people’s faces light up when they look at my work. The iPad should be that experience – on steroids. This will be a much better way to share with people what it is I do. I relish the thought of being able to share my photos with people I meet on the road in the way which they really should be seen: big. I purchased a digital picture frame for my parents for Christmas. I wish I could have just gotten them an iPad instead.
This is not supposed to replace a laptop. A camera and USB ports would be nice, but I don’t need this device to be something else. This is first and foremost a way to browse content: music, video, text and images. I don’t see myself doing photo or video editing on it, and that’s OK. If it can give me a bookstore anywhere in the world, I’m happy with that. Future versions will most certainly have more features. Almost every complaint I’ve seen so far is about what the device is missing, not about what it does. All the reports I’ve read of people who have actually touched it say it is fast, responsive and fun. If anything, I see this eliminating the need for my iPod Touch. I always carry a backpack with me anyhow, so not putting it in my pocket isn’t a big deal. If they did add a mic and GPS, it would replace my iPhone (I’d just use Skype for the few times I have to make a phone call).
Unlocked and no contracts. OMG is this amazing. I wish the iPhone had a similar deal. I can get a prepaid SIM card in any country with 3G, I can get a short term AT&T deal when I’m back in the US, and get unlimited bandwidth for only $30. I’m paying almost as much for the wifi at the Sydney airport where I’m typing this. This is a HUGE deal for frequent international travelers. You can’t get this good of a deal on the iPhone or on a laptop. This alone should make this the premier device for international travel.
Great for content producers. Everything I’ve mentioned above is about me using the iPad as a consumer of content. As a producer, I think that it has great potential as well. I think it will make it easier to display photography and opens up new formats for displaying content. I’m even starting to question the need of going through a publisher if I want to write a book. If there is a popular, mainstream device that supports ePub, there is no reason why I couldn’t do everything myself. (I still might use a publisher, but it becomes much more optional)
I’ve already talked to people about getting an early version of the device and sending it to me overseas. I’m more than happy to be a pioneer and take the arrows.
This device isn’t perfect. Running background applications would be a great addition, and one I’m sure will be added in a future release of the OS. There are already rumors of background support in the next release of the iPhone OS, and I’m sure it will be on the iPad soon after that.