Even before Apple makes its announcement of the iPad, critics and analysts had guesstimated what the device will do. They came up with terms like "netbook killer" and "Kindle killer" for the iPad. When Apple finally made its announcement on Jan. 28th these same people started criticizing Apple for not living up to their expectations. Is this fair?
No other company in the world can generate these kind of up roar, passion and expectations, for a product where the company in question never commented about prior to the Jan. 28th announcement. So without pre-announcing what the device will do how can Apple fails to meet these critics' expectations?
I believe with the release of the iPad, Apple had finally brought its long philosophy, for the past 24 years, of "allowing the user's to focus on the task at hand" to its true fruition. This is one of the reasons why the iPad is revolutionize. Apple has also the benefit of many different group of audiences who will be interested in using the iPad.
As an eBook reader, the critics have a misnomer that reading on a LCD screen causes more eye strain than reading off an E Ink device, but in fact most eye strains are caused by poor lighting and flickering screens.
The critics expect the the iPad to kill the Kindle. By comparing the iPad to the current versions of the Kindle Amazon has in the market, I believe Apple's iPad will do just that. Admittedly, Amazon's Kindle Store may currently has more e-titles than Apple's iBookstore (30,000 titles), but we will not know for sure until the iBookstore officially launch on April 3. We cannot forget, Apple was in the same situation with iTunes Music Store when the iPod and iTunes App Store when the iPhone release respectively. Both of these online stores Apple had fewer titles than its competitors at the time of the hardware launch, but both have grown to become one of the largest if not the largest; in the case of iTunes App Store, online store in their respective category. I will expect the iBookstore to do the same.
Apple is using the same strategy that works for them with the iTunes Music Store and later iTunes Movies Store, which is to sign commitments from large content owners for the respective categories. With the launch of the iBookstore Apple tells us that five of the major book publishers has committed to publish books for the iBookstore. One of these publishers is a major education book publisher. So it is expected that education titles in iBookstore format will appear very soon.
In most cases these pending titles will be in EPUB format, but for the eBooks to stand out the publishers will have to include multimedia content, which will cause them to create versions of the titles unlike any versions on any other medium. How willing are the publishers to do that will depends on how demanding the consumers are and how each publisher distinguish their titles among other publishers.
Educators and Students
With Macmillan/McGraw-Hill education titles, they will introduce a whole new use for devices like the iPad to the education sector.
For example educators can produce lecture notes that includes interactive presentations from the actual lectures. Audio questions brought up during lecture can be included in the notes at the appropriate spots. Multimedia third party content relevant to the lecture can be referenced or embedded in the lecture notes.
Magazine and Newspaper Readers
Many magazines have announced plans to create iPad versions of their printed magazine with added functionalities that are not possible in a printed version. One such magazine publisher is Conde Nast, who announce that all their magazines will have iPad versions. They created a video showing off the WIRED iPad version.
Many newspaper publishers see the iPad as a savior for their industry. Hoping it's users will be willing to pay for a ("customized") interactive version of the iPad versions of their respective newspaper. Especially when their printed subscribers are decreasing rapidly.
Some of the newspaper publishers, like Rupert Murdoch, expects subscribers to pay more for the iPad edition than the paper printed version. Whether this is true only time will tell.
Portable Media Player
Consumers who like to view movies on the go, usually use devices from Chinese and Taiwanese manufactures capable of playing back almost any video format in existence. The largest screen size for these PMP's is usually around 7 inches, when compared to iPad's high resolution 9.7 inch LED backlit IPS screen, these PMP displays look small and low quality.
The iPad will only supports video formats compatible with QuickTime so it is not as flexible as the traditional PMP's, but the supported formats are part of the MPEG standards.
Although details are a bit sketchy, there are rumors involving many of the big names game title manufactures to be working on iPad versions of their more popular franchises.
When you consider a 9.7 inch touch screen with built in accelerometer, how can they resist?
Most Important Audiences
Of all the obvious target audiences, the most important group(s) are the ones who will be defined based on the application to be released on the iPad.
Most of these applications will be vertical applications, focused on specific industry and/or functions of a profession.
Imagine a Theatre Stage Manager will have an app for his stage on his iPad, allowing him to control the props and backdrops transitions during a performance. Aligning each with the coordinated appearances of performers and custom changes.
Then imagine an Auto Mechanic who will have an app on his iPad that serves as an interface to the car's computer. Through the wireless interface dongle attached to the iPad's Dock Connector, the car's computer transmits live data readings of the vehicle back to the iPad, presenting these data in various visual cues to the mechanic, while allowing him to adjust different parts of the vehicle's settings from the iPad.
Now imagine a doctor walking through a hospital ward doing his daily rounds. On his iPad is an app that interfaces with the hospital patient information repository and through the attached dongle to the iPad's Dock Connector it also retrieves live data from equipment at patient's bed sides. The doctor is able to get a quick overview of the patient's health from his iPad at the moment he reaches each patient's room.
All three of these individuals have a different use for their iPads, the iPad platform enables these specialized apps to be created and utilized on their iPad's to serve specific sets of vertical functions.
The things that the iPad IS NOT
- A netbook: it does not inspire to or does it want to.
- A notebook or more specifically a MacBook replacement: as Apple suggests the iPad sits in between the MacBook and iPhone lines
Cirtics need to stop slotting it into an existing category. It is in its own category of computing devices at the moment, I would call "Slate Computing". I imagine there will be other devices and manufactures who will be in this category soon, but at the moment Apple and the iPad sit alone.
This is why the iPad is a revolutionize device and why we cannot create an exhaustive list of Target Audiences.