Opinion: We’re At The iPad Starting Line

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When Steve Jobs first revealed the iPod on 23 October 2001, no-one had the slightest inkling of what it might become.

Nobody at the time predicted that the music player would morph into a phone, and then into a multi-purpose tablet device.

The iPad is itself a very similar starting point. What we’re looking at here is the very beginning of a new product line, one that we can expect to adapt, metamorphose, and grow just as the iPod did.

OK, iPad haters, we know there’s a lot that’s missing. We know the multitasking thing annoys you. But Steve doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t expect you to buy this first version, or even version 2. He’ll save the really geeky stuff for later.

Right now, he wants your parents and grandparents to buy the iPad. He wants schools to buy iPads by the six-dozen. He wants businesses to arm their mobile employees with iPads.

The iPad’s evolution has already begun, because overnight thousands of developers downloaded the new iPad SDK and starting burying their noses in it. All of them are working furiously on new ideas, they’re doing that right now, so they can be ready with apps when the device hits the Apple Stores.

And while evolution of the hardware is certain, evolution of the software will be much, much faster.

I’ve seen dozens of iPhone apps that have amazed me with their inventiveness, with the way they are perfectly adapted for the device they run on. The software will drive iPad sales, and drive them through the roof, because developers will create things you and I haven’t even thought of yet.

The best iPad comment post I’ve seen anywhere else in the last few hours is this one by Rory Marinich. He nails it, completely, with this one-liner:

“The product is, simply put, a magical screen that can do anything you ever want it to, no matter what that is.”

Yes! That’s it. Right now it’s a magical screen that will do anything you want it to, given the limitations of the current hardware. In five years from now, it will still be a magical screen, but the hardware limitations will be totally different, and will make today’s iPad look as old and retro as the first-gen iPod at the top of this post.

This is the starting line. Ready. Set. Go.