The intended market for the Apple iPad, and just how consumers and business will make use of Apple's latest invention.

Now the dust has settled on the launch of Apple's iPad, reactions to the slate PC seems to be mixed.

I don't think you can really dispute the cool factor. After seeing even a handful of videos or screenshots showing the new device, most anyone would recognise that Apple is once again reframing how we handle all the data and media that now make up our digital lives.

Post-hype letdown?

But after my 'I can't wait to play with this' moment, a slight sense of disappointment and confusion set in. Some of it was inevitable after all the hype and rumours of the past several weeks.

When many of the dreamed-of features (multitasking and still or video cameras) turned out to be just that - dreams - and there was no preview of iPhone OS 4.0 as many expected, some people were bound to feel like a kid who gets jumpers at Christmas instead of a Nintendo Wii.

Beyond that, though, the target market for the iPad isn't as clearly defined as it is for most Apple products. Is it appropriate for business use? Is it a media player or e-reader? How would it be used in educational environments?

Is it just an oversized iPod touch? Exactly what needs does it meet that a smartphone or laptop can't fulfill?

We won't fully know the answer to those questions until the iPad hits the market in March or April or for a little while after it's released. But maybe the point isn't what the iPad is, but what it represents.

Whatever the intended market (I'll speculate a little more on that in a minute), the iPad represents a lot of important things for Apple.

It shows that Apple is still looking to lead and innovate in a wide array of areas, both technically and in terms of how people use technology.

NEXT PAGE: Multi-touch magic

  1. We look at how Apple's slate PC will be utilised by different markets
  2. Multi-touch magic
  3. What about business...
  4. ...and education?