What the Apple iPad really is

Enough ranting: The iPad isn't what I thought it would be, either. Focus on what it's truly designed for and you may like it

As with the launch of every new Apple product, detractors and enthusiasts have dug in, with one side proclaiming the iPad an instant failure and the other vigrorously defending all that is Apple.

Lost in this nonsense is a clear notion of what the iPad really is. Certainly it's not a laptop or a netbook. It's not even a tablet PC. It's a media consumption device -- nothing more, nothing less.

[ For more on the iPad and other mobile wonders, see InfoWorld's Mobile Edge blog. Still haven't checked out the features? Flip through our iPad slideshow for details. ]

Apple realized long ago that if you provide a "normal" user with a high-quality product that delivers high-quality content for a reasonable price, you can make a mint. The company proved that several times in the past decade. The iPad is nothing more than a way to expand the market to include ebooks and online publications (hence the New York Times plugs). Content is king, not the device.

So while everyone's getting their panties in a bunch about the iPad's shortcomings, Apple is going to sell millions of them to people who just want to be able to use the Web, email, music, movies, and books in one convenient device. That's it. Back it up with local stores that offer training sessions and employees that really know the products inside and out and you have a winner.

Have you ever seen an Apple store that wasn't crowded? I was in one last week that must've had 30 employees roaming around to deal with the 80 or so customers -- and it was a small store. Like it or not, Apple has managed to position its products as the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to satisfy our mobile entertainment desires, and it's making a killing doing it.

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