Did you guys hear?! iPAD!!!!

I get a lot of the criticism. It's missing a lot of things people hoped for, and the stock application set isn't really all that groundbreaking. That said, sorry guys, but nobody cares about aspect ratios. I mean, I understand, I'm a geek too, but seriously, nobody cares.

So, the off-the-shelf iPad is admittedly underwhelming, but I think this misses the point. As with the iPhone, the point is the apps. Right now you've got access to 140,000 apps that won't really look right, and very soon you'll have tens of thousands of apps designed specifically for this giant, gorgeous screen.

Watch the original iPhone introduction. The device was clearly groundbreaking, but it was missing TONS of features we now consider required, it had like 7 apps, and that was it. You could bookmark web pages to fill up your home screen. Yay.

The app store made it a long-term success, and the software has improved quickly and dramatically with iPhone OS 2 and 3.

My optimistic side says that Apple is taking the first serious step toward a new way of consuming media. The Kindle is an electronic book. It's like going from a horse to a mechanical horse—it mimics the experience as much as possible, without doing anything particularly new. It adds a virtually infinite catalog, of course, and that's a Big Feature, but it's not really attempting to advance the idea of what a book is, or what a book could be.

The iPad has the potential to spawn media consumption apps that change the way we read. Textbooks with embedded video and multimedia, books with animated illustrations, COMIC BOOKS, futuristic shit like that.

That said, I think the big potential problem with the iPad is that Apple is pushing their completely closed system into a much more demanding and less forgiving area.

Most people are willing to accept the limitations of the iPhone—no plugins (Flash), no apps that Apple hasn't approved, no direct file system access, etc. In fact, the vast majority of iPhone users don't know about or care about these limitations. But this device is pushing much closer to laptop-land, and it's still a completely closed system. Want to watch Netflix Instant Watch movies? Tough shit. Unless Netflix makes an app, you can't do it. Want to do some web development, fix a problem on your website real quick? No dice, you'll have to pull out your laptop.

I can't think of anybody who is likely to carry around an iPhone, a laptop, AND this thing, and they're not giving up their phones, so it has to be more of a laptop replacement. Apple clearly knows this, given all the effort they put into porting iWork for the iPad, but that's not going to be enough.

You can only do what Apple says is okay on this thing, and that may really be the achilles heel on this thing. Apple is betting big that enough people won't care. I'm not so sure they're right.

UPDATE: Post edited and cleaned up, because I was drunk.