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Apple’s latest game-changer?

Apple held a conference today hosted by his Job-ness.  As everyone expected, the aptly named iPad was announced. There’s been a lot of the usual hype over the release of this glorified plus-size iPhone.  The big question is whether this new device will truly change the way we interact with digital media? but until we get our hands on one the jury is out…  here’s the full run down:

Availability:

wifi-only models: 60 days (late march)

3g models: 90 days (april)

tell me about the hole in my wallet:

looks like the basic model (16Gb non-3g model) starts at: $499

32Gb: $599, 64Gb, $699 and if you want that with 3g it’ll cost you an extra $130 (not including the service, of course!–silly) Service on a 3g model will cost you $14.99/month for a 250mb plan…and $29.99/month for an unlimited plan.  (ha..oh yeah…and that’s still with AT&T……fml)

Now, just like the device that inspired it, the iPad has apps: iWork apps to be specific.  And they’ll cost you $9.99/ea.  The jury is out on whether this puppy will load already existing iPhone apps.

more stats:

-0.5 inches thick
- weighs 1.5 pounds (0.7kilos)
- 9.7 inch multitouch display
- 1GHz Apple A4 chip (built in house)
- between 16GB and 64GB of flash memory

Apple has proven time-and-time-again that it can design, manufacture, and market a very sexy and successful product that, frequently, revolutionizes the market it’s aimed  at.  (For example, 4 years ago Apple had no presence in the mobile phone market–today, not only are there 33.75 million iPhones in the world but with it’s release Apple established a new paradigm in the design, interface, and cross-functionality of mobile phones.)

So the real question is: Will the iPad be a game-changer as well?  lets think about it.  The iPad is aimed, intentionally or not, at competing in the publishing industry and with light-weight/low-cost netbooks.

First, publishing.  Think about how you get your news, or send email, or read books on the go.  The iPad is hoping to serve as the new preferred platform for reading digital media, whether that be websites, newspapers, magazines, or books with something called iBooks–putting it directly into competition with ebook readers like Amazon’s Kindle and all similar products.  Here’s the thing though–anyone with wifi or 3g service on their mobile phones can get very similar content which fits in their pocket or on their laptop.  And without the electronic paper display that the Kindle uses to reduce the strain on a reader’s eyes–will the iPad really gain traction as a e-book platform?

second, netbooks.  The only way the iPad was ever going to compete in the mobile computer industry was if it was cheap enough.  Well, it is.  At $499 that places it well within the sector of netbooks and with its super-user-friendly interface this can only mean bad things for its competitors.

It seems that technology companies today are not getting things right on version 1…. Their first product being mediocre, they can milk a product through 3 or more versions which should have stayed in the lab. (I see it now…iPad 4.0 “the one that finally makes sense”)  The endless upgrade cycles are getting exhausting.  The iPad has no multitasking capabilities…can’t listen to Pandora while reading twitter.  Fail.  No camera…I mean, both your basic macbook and your iPhone have that.  Fail.  No Flash plugin…so forget beautifully fluid and exciting websites, and don’t even think about streaming videos.  Fail.  No HDMI output…so much for those great HD movies you downloaded via iTunes.  Fail.  No USB?? …apparently you need an adapter.  Fail.

Apple has given us hope for a platform through which to channel and possibly revolutionize media…like the iPod or the iPhone before it, but ultimately it will be up to the publishing industry–giants like Conde Nast, Hearst, News Corp, The New York Times, Random House, and of course…The Onion to innovate; breathing new life into their content rather than just providing us digital copies of their print publications.  We are all thinking about new ways to deliver content both motion and still to the world–and while the iPad has it’s flaws, it has allowed our minds to run wild with possibility.

To see the iPad in action go Here.

Again–my opinions here are based on hearsay and product specs so I’m reserving final judgment for such a time that I can get my hands on one.  If anyone does try one please post your thoughts/opinions about your experience with it.  And what do you think: is it a game-changer?