In the meantime, there are more questions about the gadget than answers.
While we know the gadget’s rudimentary features and its initial pricing, there are plenty of things we don’t know.
These range from how Apple will position the iPad as a complement to its other products, to how app developers will price their iPad apps, to how specific features may work, such as push notifications and document printing.
We’ll find out much more in March — perhaps at another Apple event just before the iPad ships, introducing developers to the next edition of the iPhone OS software.
Apple has held these events in early March for the last two years, and we anticipate another one this year. It would give the company a last chance to position the iPad before sales begin, and perhaps to unveil any secret bonus features, such as a camera.
In the meantime, we can speculate.
One rumour that never came true was that Apple would launch a special 'premium' section of the App Store for $19.99 iPhone games. The market has moved in the opposite direction, as fewer games even start at $9.99 these days -- pretty much just high-end efforts from the likes of EA -- and more games cost in the $3-5 range. Many others are free, with publishers opting to earn money from virtual goods and in-game purchases.
Will the iPad finally kick start a $19.99 game pricing movement? Or at least push premium games and apps above the $10 mark?
While it technically wouldn't take much work to take a great game on the iPhone and make the graphics bigger to produce a great game for the iPad, the larger screen will make it feel like a more substantial, premium experience. Plus, the small initial iPad user base will make it impossible for developers to make up for lower prices in volume. Those reasons alone could lead to higher pricing, at least at first.
So will apps be more expensive?
One indication they won't be: Apple wants just $10 each for its iWork word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps.
If Apple is going to keep its annual tradition of releasing a major new version of the iPhone OS in the summer -- at the same time as it releases new iPhone hardware -- it makes sense that Apple would show off iPhone OS 4 at a developer preview event sometime in March, as it has done the last two years.
Conveniently, this could come just before the iPad officially goes on sale in late March. This event could give Apple an opportunity to announce surprise iPad features -- perhaps a camera -- or what's next for developers making apps for both platforms. Recall that the iPad, at least initially, runs on iPhone OS 3.2.
Then Apple could release version 4 of the iPhone OS for both devices (and the iPod touch) in the summer.
Will iBooks work on the iPhone and iPod touch, like Amazon's Kindle books can? Will they work on a Mac or PC?
Will Apple's iBooks remember the last page I read on my iPhone, so I can pick right up on the same page at my iPad?
Will Apple create some shortcuts for handsfree reading at the gym? Perhaps obey a spoken 'turn' or 'back' command through the microphone?
Will I be able to write a book on my iPad and then publish it to the iBookstore -- collecting a 70% cut from sales?
What does the iPad mean for Apple TV? Is it the centre of Apple's new living room strategy? Or a complement?
Will Apple create applications that make the iPad an amazing remote control for an updated, cheaper version of the Apple TV hardware? Or is the iPad supposed to replace the Apple TV as Apple's home entertainment device?
Maybe Apple has admitted that it's not going to be able to disrupt the cable guys' hold over your flat screen TV any time soon and it's going to make the iPad its push into the living room? Or maybe the iPad will just be the way you control an awesome, $99, reinvented Apple TV device -- when an iTunes TV subscription service launches later this year?
We can't see why apps' push notifications wouldn't work on the iPad -- they even work on the iPod touch. But we can't find any evidence (yet) that they're part of the iPad.
It might be awkward to get the same push notifications on multiple devices -- iPad and iPhone -- but it would probably help the iPhone app platform become a better communications platform.
And it would definitely begin to become more disruptive toward SMS text messages, which only go to your phone, and don't work via wi-fi.
Will the iPad get Apple to change iTunes movies into a streaming service? (Versus a download-only service)
The iPad is a compelling portable movie-watching device. Like a laptop or iPod, it will be nice to load up a few movies onto the iPad for a long flight or trip.
But we also think that people will be watching quite a bit of video on the iPad at home or in a place where there's a good wi-fi or 3G network connection.
This seems like a condition where it would be nice if Apple's iTunes movies were streaming and instantly available, including random access/skipping to a particular point in the movie or TV show. This would be different than the current download method, which requires a download and/or USB sync.
For instance, we'd love to be able to start a movie on the iPad and finish on a Mac in another room, without having to deal with waiting for files to download and sync between our devices.
It seems like streaming -- rather than waiting for a large file to finish downloading -- could do this better. (With the caveat that it would require a persistent network connection.)
This is Andy Miller, Apple's VP of mobile advertising. He reports directly to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Miller is in charge of setting up Apple's advertising business, which Apple says will allow app makers (and, of course, Apple) to make more money off free applications.
It could also allow magazine, newspaper, and online publishers to make more money from iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch viewers, who don't have the Flash plug-in that most Internet ads require. Apple could create special ad units that offer a better experience than today's mobile or desktop ads, and take a small cut for the ad delivery.
So how long until Apple is in the ad game? Our guess is that they'll have something solid to offer at least by iPhone OS 5 in 2011, and perhaps much sooner.
We've seen enough cracked iPhone screens to know that Apple's glass displays are too fragile for a good chunk of humanity. Especially for something they're going to throw in a backpack, like the iPad.
We have a hunch that questions about repairing broken screens is something Apple's Genius Bar staffers are going to have to field on a routine basis.
With luck, Apple will make this a relatively painless and inexpensive process -- say, $99 and a night in the Apple Store hospital. Something more complicated or expensive could be a major headache.
The iPad strikes us as a potentially excellent PC replacement for grandparents, parents, kids, etc. But many of these people still need to -- or think they need to -- print stuff out from time to time.
Will HP or another vendor certify any of their wi-fi printers to work with the iPad? Will Apple build printer support into its productivity apps like the 'Pages' word processor? Will printing be at the system level or the app level?
(Image from our popular feature, '10 iPhone Accessories We'd Love To Have')
Is the iPad a completely separate device from your other Apple gadgets, such as your iPhone or MacBook? Or is it a digital companion?
Will you be able to stream music to the iPad that's on your iPod touch? Will you be able to share your iPhone's Internet connection via tethering? (Officially or unofficially.) Will you be able to access your Mac's desktop or files? Stream a video from your Mac or PC's iTunes account over your home wi-fi?
Palm tried to position the Foleo as a Treo companion and it flopped before it even launched. Apple doesn't want to make it seem like you NEED an iPhone or Mac to make the most of an iPad. But are there any hooks Apple plans to make for those who do?
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