On January 27, 2010, Apple finally announced the long-awaited iPad. It's a design marvel. Hold it vertical and it's an ebook. Rotate it horizontal and it's a media player. The iPad is 0.5 inches thick and weighs 1.5 pounds. It includes an LED-backed, 9.7-inch touch-sensitive display, with a resolution of 1024x768. It includes the standard iPhone and iPad connector. Owners will attach it to their computer using the standard cord that has the iPad connector on one end and USB on the other.
The iPad features Apple's new in-house designed A4 system on a chip, which includes an ARM-based CPU (based on the Cortex A9 MPCore processor). Look for the A4 and its successors to migrate into the iPhone and iPod touch. This gives Apple control over the design of both the hardware and the software for future phones and tablets.
What's missing? A Web cam for one, as iPad customers could make good use of it to share video with family and friends from just about anywhere in the home. I also wish Apple had included an SD slot to make it easy to import photos from most digital cameras and expand the storage available in the system.
The iPad will run most of the 140,000 applications in the iPhone App Store, but don't confuse this as just being an iPod touch with a big display. Future applications will be designed exclusively for the iPad in both the publishing and rich media sectors-potentially making the iPad an exciting new computing paradigm for tens of millions of customers.
Apple announced the iBookstore with five initial publisher relationships: Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, with more to come. The iBook application for the iPad communicates with the iBookstore to select and download ebooks. Why wasn't Barnes & Noble a part of this? And why wasn't Google a partner for all of their scanned books? The New York Times did show off a new iPad application under development that was very impressive, but there wasn't any announced support from the other major newspaper and magazine publishers.
And I was surprised that there weren't any announcements or endorsements from Hollywood studios (for example, Disney). Hopefully, Apple will add these by the launch. I commend Apple for announcing support of the open ePub format. The iBook application is definitely cool, with the image of a bookshelf for the books on your iPad.