It's been roughly 6 months since Apple launched the iPad -- April 3 for iPad Wi-Fi, April 20 for iPad Wi-Fi + 3G. Since then, millions and millions of us have bought iPads but that only proves the demand was there, it says nothing about how iPad has lived up to that demand. So we thought we'd take a moment and ask: how's it working out for you?
In what ways has it surprised and delighted you, and in what ways has it frustrated and disappointed you? Are you using it more than you thought you would or less? Has it replaced your iPhone, iPod touch, or laptop as your go to device, or is it occupying a niche between one or more of those?
Let us know you thoughts in the comments and follow on after the jump for mine.
I began using an iPad Wi-Fi on launch day and the minute that big, bright screen lit up it was an IMAX moment for me. "It's just a a big iPhone" was exactly right -- size was the killer app. Almost immediately I stopped reading on my iPhone or MacBook. I began saving everything I came across to Instapaper so I could read it later on my iPad. (I would even close my MacBook and pick up my iPad just to read long articles, the experience was so much more enjoyable).
Browsing the web was fantastic; disintermediating the keyboard and mouse of the traditional PC and touching the screen made for a far more immediate and intimate experience. So much so, in fact, that when Dieter and I wrote our iPad review we focused almost entirely on the experience of the device.
Gaming also benefited from the big screen, igniting an ongoing debate in Chad's heart as to whether the faster launch schedule of iPhone games can equal out the grandeur scale of iPad.
When iPad 3G launched I quickly switched to one of those. I knew I would the first time I was away from Wi-Fi, reached for my iPad, and found the internet unavailable. In many ways the iPad is just a bare display for internet content, app, web app, and web alike, and having that connection 24/7 felt like a requirement. The first time I wrote up a blog post on iPad while in the passenger seat of a car racing down the highway, I knew it was more than just a feeling. Likewise watching the World Cup final rounds streaming over 3G while out for breakfast with friends.
It's not perfect. It can be heavy and unwieldy at times. When iPhone 4 and iOS 4 launched in June the combination of Retina Display, FaceTime, and especially multitasking and unified inbox had me reaching for my iPad less and less often. Some of that was surely "shiny new toy" syndrome. Some of it was hard limitations of iPad under iOS 3.2.
Now we're starting to see the first wave of truly innovative and engaging iPad apps. Some work, some fail, but the ambition is there. Twitter for iPad is showing off sliding panels. FlipBook is making social media into a personal publication. The New York Times is finally giving us a great app. Netflix... really isn't, but along with many other services from Hulu to ABC, not to mention incredible apps like Air Video are providing us with personal, portable TV.
And iOS 4.2 for iPad is on the horizon, bringing everything iOS 4 brought to iPhone back in June but adding AirPrint for productivity and AirPlay for entertainment, and while the former was needed the second could just be killer.
Either way I'm using the iPad a lot more again. That intimacy combined with instant on and a battery that won't quit is just something laptops can't match (unless and until Apple adds an iOS layer to Mac OS X?). For Photoshop, InDesign, video production, long form writing, and other tasks that benefit from the horsepower, multi-window, hardware keyboard strengths of a MacBook the iPad is still no replacement, but in terms of a really personal computing experience, iPad has become irreplaceable.
iPad has also become a new product category. Whether it's proven the space Tablet PC never could, created a new Media Tablet space almost no one else has entered, or just shown Apple can move product is unclear. Ultimately will we see a robust tablet market like smartphones, with iPad being just one of many successful devices, or will we see a tablet market like music players, where iPad has the same 70% share iPod has enjoyed and other devices remain niche?
I'm betting on the former. We're just beginning to see some challengers like the Android-based Galaxy Tab at 7-inches and even Kindle claiming smaller, one-handed devices can be better for portability or specific tasks. Palm and RIM are getting into the tablet game and Microsoft will certainly try again with a post-iPad device the same way they've just relaunched mobile post-iPhone. The potential is too great and awareness too high for the other players not to fight for market share.
And we're also only a few months away from Apple showing off iPad 2, with rumors of a 7-inch, FaceTime equipped upgrade of their own. Then there will be iOS 5 beta next spring. The cycle never ends.
So 6 months later and what we concluded 6 months ago still rings true:
The iPad is neither absolute failure nor second-coming. It is nothing more or less than Apple’s attempt to once again make the computer more personal. What began with the original Apple and Mac and became the Apple II and iMac, takes another step forward into the future with the introduction of the iPad. That the iPad can deservedly be mentioned alongside those previous paradigm shifts, that it does for multitouch computer appliances what was done before for command-lines and graphical user interfaces — and smartphones with the iPhone — is a tremendous accomplishment. But it’s the first generation of this shift, the Apple or Mac, not the Apple II or iMac, and that means it’s certainly not for everyone, not yet and perhaps not ever.
But it's proven over time that it's for me, maybe not "right" but "right now". Apple hasn't nailed the device yet -- they might next time, or the time after -- but they hammered it hard, harder than I initially thought, and developers have taken it even further.
This is an enthusiast site and I'm an enthusiast, however, so let me know what you think.