The knee-jerk reaction from the Apple faithful, though, wasn’t as enthusiastic as expected, raising the question of whether the iPad will be able to succeed at the same level the iPhone and iPod Touch have.
First, though, the good news. When it’s released in 60 days, the iPad will start at just $499 (for a WiFi enabled 16GB model), significantly lower than many analysts had forecast. A 32 GB model will cost $599 and a 64GB version will run $699.
A month later, Apple will begin shipping versions that include 3G capabilities – with a $130 premium over the WiFi only models. 3G service will be provided exclusively by AT&T, but will not require a contract.
Apple will offer two plans: 250MB of data per month for $14.99 or unlimited data for $29.99 per month. Either plan can be activated directly from the iPad.
The iPad will weigh in at just 1.5 lbs and is a mere 0.5 inches thick. It boasts a 9.7 inch IPS display and is powered by a 1 GHZ Apple A4 chip. Additionally, it comes with built-in 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1, accelerometer and the now ubiquitous compass.
It can run all iPhone applications out of the box – both natively and in an expanded full screen mode. Several companies, including Electronic Arts, the New York Times and Major League Baseball showed apps specifically developed for the iPad as well.
As expected, the tablet will also act as an eReader, taking on Amazon in the growing space. Via an app called iBooks, consumers will be able to download works from a variety of publishers, including Penguin, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, MacMillan and Hatchet.
It’s all exciting stuff – but there was a lot that seemed to be missing as well.
The iPad lacks any sort of camera. And, based on the demos, appears unable to multitask. Because its interface is entirely multitouch-based (using an onscreen virtual keyboard), there’s no possibility of handwriting recognition either.
And no one seemed happy that AT&T had secured another (seemingly exclusive) 3G agreement with Apple.
Many Apple loyalists noted that the much-hyped device appears to be little more than a souped up – and larger – iPod Touch. And grumbling during the online live blogging of the Apple event grew at a fast rate – until the price was announced.
The low cost seemingly reconverted some skeptics, but not all.
Wil the iPad be a success? Almost certainly, given the amount of love that exists for Apple these days, but will it be the next big thing? That’s a question that seems to be still very much up in the air.