The iPad

I spent Wednesday morning glued to my computer screen, alternating between three live-blogs while simultaneously trying to make sense of a mostly unlistenable uStream feed beamed directly from the Yerbe Buena Centre in San Francisco, where Steve Jobs and his Apple compatriots were unveiling their new tablet computing device; the iPad. I'm a fan of both Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs. I've been to MacWorld three times. I haven't missed a Keynote or product announcement for years. I've owned Apple gear since 1996 when I bought my Quadra 650, and I've been the Mac tech, tutor and evangelist for friends and family since then.

I will buy at least one iPad. And I'll take a lot of pleasure from watching what David Pogue calls "a 1.5 lb sack of potential" fill-up with as-yet unimagined applications and fill-out with next year's (or next month's) software and hardware updates. Just like the iPhone did.

In the meantime, the internet and twitter-verse is aswarm with those whose expectations were not met. Apple's inability to fulfill all of the rumour-mill's rampant and often unrealistic predictions is seen by some as a fundamental failure of a company that should know better. And, dammit, should have done better.

A friend posted on Facebook that "It's really an oversized iTouch being heralded as new technology for the future!" and goes on to say that he's "had a fully functioning tablet for 3 years now!". The PC he's referring to isn't the iPad, or anything like it, and it wouldn't take long to confirm that, but his characterization is already dishearteningly familiar and confirms how rewarding it can be to pass judgment ... even when that judgment is sometimes based on a minimum of related information.

Bob Lefsetz, a pop culture commentator, wrote something yesterday so ill-informed that it made me laugh out loud when I read it:

"The iPad is almost like a computer without software". He said.

A computer without software is exactly what it is at the moment! A powerful, beautifully designed computer that you operate by moving your fingers over a screen. The iPhone had  no software to speak of when it was announced. As of Wednesday there are 140,000 apps in the App Store. But Bob, my friend on Facebook, and many others, are unimpressed.

I will continue to be excited, optimistic and hopeful about what I see as a whole new way to interact with the ever-growing digital data-stream and a new vessel into which we can pour our collective imagination. And I'll leave you with this:

“You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.” ~ Steve Jobs

If you do have some interest in the iPad and want to take a few minutes to learn about it, I recommend the article posted yesterday by British actor, writer, comedian, television presenter, film director and genius Stephen Fry who was at the Yerbe Buena presentation and held one in his hands. I also recommend David Pogue's "The Apple iPad, First Impressions" in the New York Times, and John Gruber's dependably incisive and clear-headed observations on his blog, Daring Fireball.