A long, long time ago, a man named Steve Jobs created a company named Apple Computers. Apple eventually fired Steve. Apple then created The Newton. Then Steve took over Apple again. Steve killed the Newton. Fast forward in time, now Steve creates, iPad.
Coincidence? Maybe. There are a number of sticking similarities between the two devices even though they were created well over a decade apart. Sure, technology has changed a bunch since then, but I'm still wondering where the audience will be for the new iPad. The Newton struggled to find its niche in our daily lives and failed to sell very well. The iPad may well be on the same track of finding an audience because it's so… in between products. It may end up being another quirky, albeit cool idea, much like the Apple TV.
Steve Jobs is betting that you will not be able to live without an iPad. He has taken the stance that netbooks are cheap and slow and very limited. Maybe so, but netbooks are selling and in big numbers. In fact, netbooks are outselling just about everything out there, so why go out on a limb to offer something that very few end users are looking for? Well, because they hope to find a new audience with a really new product.
Here's why the iPad has some serious challenges ahead of it. It's expensive. In fact, when the 3G version comes out, be prepared to drop $700-$800 for one with the large storage options and be prepared to pony up $30 a month for a data plan to get the most use out of it. That's a lot more than a cheap $199 netbook with a similar data plan. Netbooks tend to run full operating systems too which is great for running all of the programs you need everyday. The iPad runs an updated iPhone OS and apps are limited to the App Store from Apple. And while netbooks have cramped keyboards, I really can't see too many professionals banging away on the iPads on-screen keyboard to create a report, email it to their boss only to receive complaints back that it can't be opened in Word or PowerPoint.
The iPad sure looks interesting, however it's going to find a tough, skeptical crowd when it finally arrives on shelves in a few months. It's too big to fit in your pocket, it's too delicate to sling around with you everywhere you go, it has a sealed battery, no keyboard, no full OS option, pricey to buy and expensive to own. I'm sorry Mr. Jobs, but this one will probably be on the shelf with the Newton and the Mac Cube.