Now that the iPad frenzy has abated somewhat is there room for a (fairly) objective reasoned view on how it will develop?

Predictably Apple fanboys hailed it as the second coming (I'm looking at you Mr Fry) and MS apologists proclaimed it a massive let down. Personally I see it as a bit between the two, in typical wishy-washy fashion.

When I saw the 'no Flash - no cameras - no multi-tasking' revelations I admit I thought rather negatively. But then I watched a few people using the thing and had sudden visions of happy sofa-ensconced surfing - one eye on the OK film on the TV, the other eye on touch screen searching for the name and CV of the actor you think you recognise getting shot...

Perhaps that will make you squint a bit, on reflection.

Of course when the iPhone came out the reactions were similarly split and it took off hugely. But whilst doing a bit of research for a brief interview on BBC Bristol (these are the exalted media circles I move in) I noticed a quote from an Apple bod along the lines that iTunes runs at not much ahead of break-even. Which surprised me a bit.

Of course they need to run acres of server farms and herds of developers, (sorry, can’t think of another farming metaphor) and admittedly I haven't bought much myself (a couple of albums, Gary Numan and Flight of the Conchords, for the record; and 3 apps: a pool one, Doodle Jump for the kids and Brian Eno's Trope), but there are millions of iPhones and iPod Touchs out there now.

This means Apple need to make good cash on their hardware of course - and that fact, combined with their design flair (I still love the minimalism of my iPod after all these years) means that the iPad will succeed. There, I said it.

Appy days, Appy talk, it'll be about the Apps.

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    IBBoard wrote on 17th Feb 2010

    "But then I watched a few people using the thing and had sudden visions of happy sofa-ensconced surfing - one eye on the OK film on the TV, the other eye on touch screen searching for the name and CV of the actor you think you recognise getting shot..."

    Steve Jobs said that Netbooks weren't the third band of mobile consumer device, but what makes that scenario any better for the iPad than for a laptop or a netbook, or even a smartphone (wifi-enabled, if you don't want to spend too much money on data transfer charges)? I already use a 13" laptop if I want to check up on those things, and if I had a cheap Netbook with an SSD and Linux on it then I could be checking on things even quicker. Not only that, but I'd have a real keyboard, be able to view flash _and_ have something running in the background!

    The only reason the iPad seems to be its own category of consumer device is because it is the media companies' dream: a fairly well locked down device designed predominantly for the "consumption" of media (notice the wording that implies "using up" - a model of purchasing that I'm sure they'd love).

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Brian is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.

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