So today the iPad is launched! people have been waiting for this since before it was even conceived, and today the first deliveries are made.
Will it live up to its billing?
I have no idea - there will be rave reviews about it, and people will buy it in droves. They will subtly pull them out for the admiration of other people and will swear how fantastic they are and wonder how we lived without them ......... but I have a different take on this.
The iPhone and the iPod touch family have definitely evolved into great items that are useful and practical, but they didn't start out that way. The iPhone was touch screen phone that incorporated an iPod. Its undoubtedly beautiful design and slick user interface made it in an instant success and a social "must have" item, but its true raison d'etre came out of evolution. The app store developed and that brought the devices into their own. These apps made the iPhone into a truly multi functioning device, but was this all then an "accident"?
I ask this about the iPad. Is this another device, no doubt spectacular in its design and construction that is looking for a use? The Apple die hards I know have been discussing, since its announcement, what they will use it for. It will be a home tablet, a PMP, a laptop replacement for short trips, an ebook, a movie player .... and so on ! I am sure it will be all these things, but the beautiful thing about Apple is they have a plethora of loyal followers who will buy their products and take the time to find the use for it !
What an excellent position to be in ! In my world, we have to spend time to look at consumers, understand their needs and develop products that meet those. Sometimes we try and anticipate forthcoming consumer needs - sometimes we hit and sometimes we miss. Sometimes we in fact get the product right, but the consumer doesn't "get it" as we aren't able to effectively get the correct message across. These are normal challenges for "normal" businesses.
So you have to admire Apple (as much as I hate promoting them) for getting themselves in this position. Develop cool products, get consumers to queue up to buy them and write rave reviews about them, and then work tirelessly to find uses that will make the product increasingly successful in the future, and happily glance over the weaknesses!
At the end of the day, if Apple hit their early estimates of sales, 1m units of an item at $700 each is a success no matter how you look at it !