My previous musings on the Apple tablet (now the iPad) were pretty much on target. OK, one notable exception - I had assumed that if the product were larger it would actually be a Mac. It became clear towards the end of last year (how come this company can't keep secrets anymore? Because they don't want to, perhaps?) that Apple was going the iPod route. So what we have here is a big iPod touch/iPhone (in some models), essentially a line extension. Families of technology products are good - Apple will sell a bunch of these, even though tablets haven't exactly set the world on fire so far.
Why will this product meet expectations? Again, because it extends an already successful product line. Screen size (OK, along with keyboard) is the key variable in any mobile product, and this is, well, again, a big iPod touch. I can think of a lot of applications for this particular form factor, in addition to the 140,000 apps that already run on it. But why am I so certain this product will be a winner?
Because of the surprise - the price. Even though my earlier posting noted a possible entry price of $500, this assumed a smaller form factor (a seven-inch display). This thing is big enough to be an e-reader (note, though, the color screen with no sacrifice to long battery life, and Apple is a major media distribution company now), a PC replacement for some, a big-screen media player, and lots and lots of other things. Yes, I'm buying one myself (probably the 3G model, but I'm not sure). I would, BTW, have preferred a 1280x800 screen, but the more traditional 1024x768 still provides a lot more context that an iPod touch at a small (hey, what's a buck or a hundred really worth anymore?) increase in price. Did you see the part about an oleophobic (fingerprint-resistive) screen? Gotta try that!
Bottom line - it's not revolutionary, but it's cool. With a few apps (especially iWork), it might make a good netbook replacement for travel, but a lot will depend upon whether Steve Job's comments about how good the keyboard is ring true. Overall - no revolution here, just another great product from the best consumer electronics company on the planet.
Mathias is a principal at Farpoint Group, a wireless advisory firm in Ashland, Mass.