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Apple's big media event yesterday produced what everyone had been expecting: a tablet device, which as we know now, has been named the iPad.

Apple is promoting the iPad as a "magical and revolutionary device" but there was palpable disappointment amongst many who had been discussing (and speculating) about the device for so long. Living up to the hype was probably impossible, but is some of the disappointment justified? Is the iPad as "revolutionary" as Apple would have us believe?

When looking at the iPad's features and functionality, it's hard to see much that's revolutionary. Less tablet 'computer' and more something between an iPhone and netbook, many have likened the iPad to a larger version of the iPhone or iPod Touch. One blogger humorously likened it to "a large iPhone with a chunky bezel", while another more seriously called it "a fancier, larger iPod touch". Indeed, the iPad has many of the same physical characteristics as these devices, and Apple has engineered the iPad to work with the existing apps developers have been building for the iPhone.

As an e-book reader, the iPad just might give anyone thinking of buying a Kindle or Nook reason to reconsider, but even Steve Jobs made a comment that screams evolution more than revolution:

Amazon's done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We're going to stand on their shoulders and go a little further.

Even on the business side of things, it's hard to see anything revolutionary. With iTunes, Apple was a leader in bringing cheap music downloads from major record labels to the mainstream. But it's just one of a growing number of players in the e-book space and there were no visible game-changing content announcements yesterday. And as my colleague Meghan Keane noted, some books Apple is now selling through iBooks are more expensive than they are on Amazon.

From my perspective, on all fronts, calling the iPad a "revolutionary device" is just Apple's marketing spin. The iPad is very much evolutionary. Apple has clearly taken what it thinks is the best of a number of existing device categories and is simply trying to create a new market.

At the end of the day, of course, evolutionary technologies can be just as successful as revolutionary ones (if not more successful), and a discussion of whether the iPad is evolutionary or revolutionary will obviously matter a whole lot less to consumers than it will to hardcore techies. If consumers can find a place for an iPad in their lives, nobody will care whether the iPad is an amazing new innovation or whether it's another step on the evolutionary ladder for several existing technologies.

On this note, it's worth mentioning the most surprising aspect of Apple's announcement: pricing. With a model starting at just $499, the iPad is a lot cheaper than many analysts anticipated. So while many, myself included, are struggling to find a lot to be excited about are trying to figure out where the iPad fits in, the iPad's pricing, not its technology, could very well be Apple's key to success.

Photo credit: ftchris via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 January, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2392 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Professional Copywriter

I can't help thinking that Apple are attempting to force a demand in the market, using their brand power and devout iPoser followers they can market it to the hilt, claiming that netbooks are gimmicky is slightly "pot calling kettle" if you ask me.

Design - 9

Originality - 4

Functionality - 3

Price - 7

iPoser factor - 11

over 6 years ago

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Lars Bøgner

Dear Patricio,

And why do you think its priced so low ? Is because its priced after the "printer" model. You get the Printer (iPad) cheap but have to buy original ink (iBooks).

Its that simple. iPod and ITunes showed the way. Apple takes it a step further with a low price iPad in connection to iBooks.

over 6 years ago

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Daniel Peiser

Spreading rumors about a $1000 price tag and then announce that it will be sold at $499, that's genius.

Then after the "original ink" you'll have to buy Apps, because you can't play your favorite online flash games, you want to read a couple of magazines and newspapers while commuting to work, etc.

To buy or not to buy the Apple iPad, this is the question.

Here's the answer: http://www.bealoud.com/technology/apple-ipad/

;)

over 6 years ago

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Free iPad

To be honest i don't even think it's that different to the iphone! It's basically a big one! 

Although the ipad does look rather sexy!

over 6 years ago

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John

I'm totaly with Professional Copywriter... I think tablets as a whole are forcing a market that dont exist... still I like the ipad as a gadget but do I really need it? NO

over 6 years ago

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