10 Things Apple Must Do to Ensure iPad Lives Up to the Hype

News Analysis: The Apple iPad is set to launch on April 3, and already the hype machine is building. But Apple's work is far from done. If it wants the iPad to have a long life in the market, it needs to ensure that its future decisions appeal to what consumers really want. We take a look at 10 things Apple must do to make sure the iPad lives up to the hype.

With the iPad's launch less than a week away, the hype machine is surging. Already, Apple fans are saying that the tablet will dominate the market and easily best any and all challengers. Analysts are predicting that Apple will sell up to 10 million units by the end of the year. And now that launch-day iPad preorders have sold out, it seems that Steve Jobs has hit upon another winner.

But maybe it's too soon to make that prediction. The iPad hasn't even hit store shelves yet. And we can't forget that there are several competitors gunning for the same market. One of those competitors, the HP Slate, has a good chance of challenging the iPad on several fronts, thanks to its better connectivity features and Windows 7. In other words, this is all just hype. And Apple hasn't done enough to live up to it yet.
Here's what Apple needs to do to make sure the iPad lives up to the hype:
1. Meet demand
With the release of any product, it's extremely important for a company to meet demand for its device. Apple is no different. Apple's success in the tech industry can be a problem for the hardware company. Although its devices sell well, the demand for those devices is sometimes unprecedented. It will likely be facing similar demand for the iPad. The last thing the company needs is to explain why consumers can't find iPads at the Apple Store or in Best Buy locations. As long as there are iPads on store shelves, Apple will be in good shape. But if not, trouble will ensue.
2. Consider Flash
Although Apple fans say that Flash is a dying Web standard that isn't necessary on the iPad, it really is. The iPad is meant to be a mobile computing companion that allows users to surf the Web, check e-mail and use apps. But what good is a Web-browsing device if users can't access the countless number of sites and Web pages that require Flash to run? Yes, it's a security concern, but it's certainly no worse than Windows or Internet Explorer. And look at all the people who use those applications.
3. Remember the mainstream
For now, the majority of iPad owners will be early adopters. Those folks are the most likely to pick up the latest and greatest device on the market. But bringing the mainstream to the iPad might not be so easy. Apple has to do a better job of marketing the product as a device that does more than help users check Facebook from the couch. Mainstream users are key to ensuring that the iPad lives up to its lofty expectations. Apple must remember that.
4. Play nice with developers
It's quickly becoming clear that Apple has no intention of playing nice with developers. That's a problem. The iPad's key selling point is the ability to add applications to the device. If Apple continues to browbeat developers for little or no reason, the company could have some trouble on its hands. Developers might finally have enough and move to other devices where App Store regulations aren't so tough. And in the process, consumers might start moving to devices where a wider selection of applications is readily available.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...