If the core rumors are true, when Apple introduces their new iPad device Wednesday, they will revolutionize the tablet category. In fact, they will so change the way we think about tablet-like computers that they will actually create a new category (tablet just won't seem sufficient). We won't think of the iPad as a tablet, but more of a ‘companion computer'. It will always be there; always on and ready to engage with you. It will be powerful enough to do just about anything in most of the biggest consumer electronic categories. And to take it a step further, it will truly know you. If it sounds a lot like a Jesus tablet, that's because that is exactly what iPad will be: omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. This is not sacrilege, merely metaphor. Here's how it could change everything:
Omnipresent (always there, all the time). In the living room, kitchen, in bed, on the train, in the car. It will always be connected and ready to engage. It will be big enough to be useful when a smart phone frustrates, and will be small and lightweight enough, with enough battery life, to deliver conveniently where and when a laptop cannot.
Omnipotent (all powerful). Phone, e-reader, computer, TV, GPS, gaming, painting, fill-in-the-blank. It’s a computer with a 10 inch HD touch screen, so it will do all these things eventually. While it may cannibalize some product categories around the periphery, it will not necessarily replace any of these dedicated devices en masse. It can't replace a pocket cell phone or a 55 inch LED TV, or even a Wii. (Netbooks may be the exception). However, the mere fact that it can do all these things in a mobile form, gives it a level of versatility that will make it indispensable. But what really differentiates iPad and will make it a category creator and killer simultaneously, is not the hardware but the software - and specifically, the apps. It will have thousands of mind-blowing apps that keep it constantly evolving, surprising and ever-so-sexy. The app universe has proven capable of filling every imaginable void and this new canvas will deliver developers something truly game-changing. (That being said, the iPad will need at least one killer app when it launches, and I’ll take a stab at what that might be in a later post.)
Omniscient (all knowing). We believe much of the initial marketing and apps will be geared toward home use, and if the price is in the $600 range, plus service plan, as we anticipate, the iPad will be shared and passed around the family. On the couch, checking email or game stats. In the kitchen looking up recipes while watching Desparate Housewives on demand. The device will know who you are, get to know your personality, and will present itself differently to you than it does to your spouse or kid. It will identify you and respond to you individually in really cool and unique ways. Not just give you access to your personally stored media and files, but adjust security settings on the fly, recommend apps, songs and TV shows based on what it learns about you, tell you which friends are nearby, send you coupons for nearby stores you may like on the fly, and much more.
Just like friends and pets, iPad will know you and you will have a totally unique experience with it. It may even talk to you. It will be a companion.
The iPod was ominpresent, the iPhone was omnipotent ("there's an app for that"), but adding the third element - and hitting the trifecta - will define the iPad revolution. In true Apple style, it will be a device we didn't know we needed, but can't believe we got along without. When the house is on fire, we'll grab the dog and the iPad.
Yes, the iPad has house-fire potential.