Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a very rich, very clever man. He got up on a big stage and held up a new kind of computer. It was flat, and it didn’t have a keyboard. This very rich, very clever man then tried to convince a bunch of reporters that in five years this flat, keyboardless computer would be the most popular kind of computer in the country. Some of them even believed him.
The year was 2000. The man’s name was Bill Gates.
That year at Comdex, which at the time was the biggest technology trade show on the calendar, Microsoft unveiled something it called a Tablet PC. Just for good measure, the company unveiled it again at Comdex in 2001. But it never particularly caught on, because who wants a computer that’s basically an underpowered netbook without a keyboard? The Tablet PC was much like a piece of paper, except it was heavier and more expensive and it broke when you dropped it.
Now Apple is offering us another tablet PC: the iPad. We didn’t want one then. Why would we want one now?
The tough thing about writing about Apple products is that they come with a lot of hype wrapped around them. The other tough thing about writing about Apple products is that sometimes the hype is true. So let’s scrape the Vaseline off the lens and figure out what exactly we’re looking at.