And lo, The Steve descended the mountain with the Word of the Lord still heavy upon him. Thus he spread his hands and calmed the roiling waters of commerce, and spaketh in tones of majesty to the huddled masses yearning to be freed from the burden of their cash. “Behold, ” intoned The Steve, “I bring you revolutionary magic, a magic revolution, more magic, more revolution. And I say unto you, in three score days thou will find within the holy temple of the golden apple a device that is like an iPhone only bigger and phoneless, and which resembleth the Book of Mac but smaller and less powerful, and which shall combat the wiles of the evil Kindleites by charging the people more to read. Thy pockets will be barren even as the Ark of the Apple Covenant is filled unto bursting with the Wealth of Nations. And the world shall be unchanged.” So sayeth The Steve. And the masses fell to warring among themselves.
OK, leaving aside the fact that I still can’t say the word “iPad” with a straight face (what the hell was The Steve thinking?), the product’s release schedule colors Apple’s generally high level of marketing savvy with just a hint of desperation. In releasing the SDK yesterday but not making the device itself available for 60 days (and then only making the crappiest version available) Apple is tacitly acknowledging that while The Steve may be convinced that this device is “magical” and “revolutionary” at the moment it appears to be anything but. Wishing will not make it so, but the work of some canny app developers just might.
Most of the touted uses of the iPad are already served adequately by existing software applications (and on other devices). Apple will in all likelihood need some breakthrough application that really takes advantage of the size and scale of the device (since no significant new functionality was demonstrated) to allow people to do something that they couldn’t do before. Alternatively, it will need to allow people to do something they could do before but much more efficiently. Note: much more efficiently. I have a hard time seeing how anyone will part with the amount of money needed to get the version with reasonable storage and connectivity if it only does some things a little better than is possible at the moment.