Apple's announcement of the iPad, a half inch think, 9.7-inch touch screen tablet, has sparked a wave of controversy. It was featured in multiple Mashable and Tech Crunch posts, grazed the cover of the Economist, and Stephen Colbert presented with it at the Grammy's. It has been touted as an iPod steriods, a netbook killer, and an e-reader competitor. One thing is certain: The iPad is a game changer.
According to Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of NVIDIA, the iPad is "the first truly convergent electronic device." The iPad combines touch screen functionality and clear graphics with email, calendar, GPS, music, video, and e-book reader functionalities.The basic version utilitizes wifi, while the $829 version offers a 3G wireless connection and more memory. Apple is also revamping its iWork business tools (word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software) for the device.
How will this device appeal to the mass market, and particularly to women? Ethan Nicholas, an iPhone game developer, recently wrote a guest post on Tech Crunch entitled "Why My Mom's Next Computer Will be an iPad." I agree with him, but not because, as he (condescendily) claims, "It doesn’t do as many things as a 'real' computer does, but the things it does do it does in a way even non-tech-savvy people can figure out, and there are far fewer ways to screw it up." Things that even his mother, whom he describes as "a lovely lady in her sixties who is… well, 'not computer savvy' " can do.
My personal favorites are the Notes and Calendar features. Both the Notes and the Calendar are more robust than on the iPhone, and the larger size of the iPad enabled Apple to closely mimic the look and feel of note pads and organizers. These features will not only appeal to those of us who have been using online calendars and notes, but also attract those who have not yet made the leap.
The iPad highlights Apple at its best- changing the rules, levering its strengths in unusual ways, and creating an innovative mix of hardware and software. Will that appeal to my mother? Sure. It appeals to me, too.