I found myself in a funny place on Saturday morning. I was lined up at 8:10 a.m. to purchase a new iPad. Funny, because in a million years neither I nor my colleagues or family would have expected me to be “one of those weird persons” who would stand in line for a silly thing like an electronic gadget or device. But then again I wasn’t alone. There were dozens of others like me here in Marin County and around the country — all waking up early and heading to the local Apple store. I asked the guy next to me in line and he too said he’d “never waited in line for a device” but felt compelled to this time. At least the local Apple store here in Marin had hot, fresh Peet’s coffee waiting for those of us so inclined to weather an unseasonably cool spring morning to get our hands on Apple’s latest toy.
OK, so what’s this thing called an iPad really for — making shopping lists in the kitchen, reading the morning news “paper,” checking e-mail or simply surfing the Web? Is it a mobile device, a computer device, an entertainment device or just another thing that will further swell the market capitalization of Apple? Well, so far as I can tell, it’s an oversized iPhone without the telephone or the camera that enables easier reading of news and information, is lighting fast and is a cool novelty for those weekend visitors who couldn’t seem to take their hands off my new iPad.
Time will tell exactly what role the iPad will play in the information ecosystem. It might just help resuscitate the dying newspaper and magazine business by offering users a more paper-like experience with its ability to offer up more viewing space. It could also become the device to which Yellow Pages publishers can finally deliver their electronic version of a print directory. Then again, it might just be another device for checking one’s Facebook, seeing where friends are, making a restaurant reservation or ordering a pizza for delivery.
Whatever the role the iPad will play is months away from being fully known. What I do know today is that the iPad, while not a substitute for the newspaper I am used to taking on my morning journey down the hall, certainly beats having to take the recycling out each week.