An excellent post on what the iPad really is

The iPad is certainly causing people to think, and this post from Matt Gemell with thoughts on How to Compete with iPad really hits the nail on the head in terms of what the iPad represents.

For students of the Innovator’s Dilemma you can really see it at work in the reaction to the iPad. Matt’s comment:

If you’re going to put a desktop operating system onto a tablet device, you’re going to immediately alienate the vast majority of your potential customers. Note the word “potential”. Paradoxically, you may temporarily placate most of your existing customers, but you’re not innovating and you’re certainly leaving a lot of money on the table.

The iPad is really interesting, both as a device in its own right and also in how it will change our perception of how people interact with the computing world. I’ll also be interested in how other manufacturers react – I fear it’ll be rather similar to their reaction to the iPhone which is pretty much “Look, we know you think the iPhone is cool but it really isn’t because it is so limited. Here’s our phone which has all the features and complexities of our normal phones, with a few choice bits from the iPhone, and a load more stuff squidged on top”.

And of course, we all keep buying iPhones.

As an aside, the first views of Microsoft’s “Courier” Booklet have appeared. My initial impressions are:

  • By the time it gets to market, the iPad will have set our expectations for this category of device.
  • Wow, it looks powerful/complex – but in a way that I don’t really care about. If I want that power, I’ll use my Laptop.
  • A pen! Wow that feels old fashioned now… (I know there are lots of good uses for a stylus, but…)
  • Microsoft and their partners have a history of making a mess of this space.

The next 18 months will be interesting, both from the perspective of the cool tools we’ll all have at the end of it, but also watching the market dynamics play out. I’m sure there’s plenty of MBA case study material that will come out of this phase of the market.