With the expected announcement of the iPad only a day away, the hype meter for Apple's tablet computer has been hitting ten all week. Not only have we been bombarded with rumors on what the iPad might look like and what type of applications will run on it, the media has gone so far as to ponder how it will revolutionize our lives by changing just about every aspect of it. (Apparently, it's going to replace my coffee maker and make me cinnamon toast in the morning.)
If there's one thing we can count on from the mainstream media, it how quick they can jump on the buzz bandwagon. And if there is one thing Apple does better than just about anyone, it is generating buzz around their products.
And Apple's new tablet may very well revolutionize the computing world, though I think it has a tough road before it. The iPad isn't exactly the first tablet computer, and we have yet to see any catch on fire. And while I think the day of the tablet computer will, there are plenty of reason why the iPad might fail.
1. It won't fit in your pocket.
Let's face it, many of us are walking around with the Internet in our pocket right now. And we're the iPad's main audience. As much as we'd love to take that pocket Internet -- be it an iPhone, a Nexus One or a Blackberry -- and stretch the screen until it more resembles a laptop than a smartphone, we'd still end up with the problem that it wouldn't fit in our pocket. This means the iPad is not the device we buy because we want Internet access wherever we go. That's why we bought our iPhone.
2. It's too expensive.
While we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see pricing options, it is a good bet that the iPad will run over $400 with a contract and likely in the $700 range without a contract. Again, a lot of us may already have a data plan and a two-year contract, so we might not want to subsidize the cost of the iPad. And for $700 we could almost buy a Mac book. Heck, for that price we could get two netbooks.
3. It won't replace the laptop.
Let's face it, while the iPad's on-screen keyboard is going to be ten times better than tapping out messages on the iPhone, it is still going to pale beside a real keyboard. The biggest problem here is that the keyboard and the display are on the same plane, which might be fine if your are lounging on your couch, but is an ergonomic nightmare if you are hunched over the tablet at your local coffee shop.
4. You only get access to a watered-down Internet.
Remember those early iPhone commercials where they bragged about the iPhone giving you access to the 'real' Internet? Flash forward a couple of years and the iPhone is no longer the best way to hit the Internet. While new browsers like Skyfire support rich websites and can render just about anything, the iPhone still doesn't support Flash. And since the iPad is going to run the iPhone OS, that means the iPad may not support Flash-based websites. (This could mean no Hulu on the iSlate!)
5. No one really needs an iPad.
What it all boils down to is that the iPad doesn't fill a fundamental need. After all, when we forked out big bucks for the original iPhone, we were getting a phone and an MP3 player, which were two thing we needed. What are we going to get with the iPad that we don't already have?
Does this mean the iPad is doomed for failure? No. It simply means that Apple has their work cut out for them. A time will come when digital movies will be like digital music is now. A time will come when tablet computers are the big, new thing. So here's the real question: Is that time now?
Apple is betting it is so. And we'll find out soon.