The Apple iPad has burst through the cloud of rumour and speculation. A crepuscular ray in the shape of a giant iPhone with a 9.7″ IPS screen, custom 1GHz Apple A4 processor, 16-64GB of memory, 3G and WiFi, and 10 hours of battery life. And there, bathing in the pools of light are the old-media stalwarts: NYT, Penguin, and others; ready to illuminate their texts. Steve Jobs is their modern-day Gutenberg, iTunes his press, and the iBooks application his moveable type: together distributing printed works cheaper and faster than any paper press could ever do.
As with the iPod, this means neither the demise of old distribution, nor the rise of new. It does, however, provide another compelling platform for consumers to spend freely on more content. Like the App Store before it, Apple’s new distribution platform creates a near-frictionless method to part consumers with their money in return for content. Over the past couple of years, I’ve spent more on music and applications using my iPhone than any physical products. Similarly, I can see myself buying more subscriptions, applications, and premium content than ever before.
But wait, there’s more (and more of the same)
Apple knows when it is on to a good thing. The iPad enlarges the familiar iPhone interface, and also builds on their massively successful iTunes music and application stores. You can use all the same applications, music, and podcasts that have been available for the iPod and iPhone. But of course the increased size and resolution of the iPad will lend itself to larger-format applications – some of which Apple demonstrated during their announcement.
Apple has also finally leveraged their purchase of PA Semi, producing the “A4” chip: a custom 1GHz processor with combined graphics processing. We can assume from this that the iPad will have 3D gaming graphics far in excess of the iPhone and iPod. Electronic Arts leveraged this, and demonstrated some rather stunning 3D games.
Then there’s iWork. Apple’s existing suite of Office applications have been tweaked to run on the iPad. Apple has deeply integrated multi-touch, creating an almost Minority Report interface for the various applications. iWork on iPad is not an addendum to your desktop or notebook PC – each US$9.99 application is a complete standalone product. If you’re a hard-core road warrior, you might want to grab the matching keyboard dock.
Shine a light on us
And what of New Zealand? Are we left out in the Kindle-like cold? Not entirely. The iPad is available to buy worldwide in 60 days time (3G models will follow 30 days after that). However, the pre-pay data plans (US$14.99 for 250MB and US$29.99 for unlimited) are only available in the USA. But there should be nothing stopping you putting a Vodafone or XT sim card in the iPad, because they are carrier unlocked by default. Word of warning: like the iPhone, the iPad’s 3G will work ok on Vodafone in cities, and great on XT everywhere (when XT isn’t offline of course).
Here’s how much you’re going to pay for an iPad in US$:
And you know you’re going to. Like many Apple products, the features matter less than the fashion. When you see these devices in cafes and buses, you’ll want one. What are you waiting for? You don’t want to be left alone in the dark now do you?
[Image credits: GDGT]