[This post is a response to a post on the Harvard Business Review website: Waiting for the iPad's Twist by Scott Anthony]
I agree with your idea that we need a clear and interruptive innovation to transform the iPad into a new force in computing. It's not that the iPad will fail, it is the category which stands to fail should the killer-app not show up.
Where the Kindle and Nook took the one-trick-pony approach, Apple has put all the capabilities in the iPad that WE as developers and users now have to figure out how to put into action. While the Kindle's solved a problem, they did so without any open expansion capabilities. I guess Amazon could develop a color Kindle with wireless internet access, but why would they? We now have the iPad. Oh, and it does a pretty great job of running the Kindle software, and Amazon's site cannot tell the difference. As far as Amazon is concerned, a book sold on my iPad is a book sold for the Kindle. So, they are going to win either way.
But what will be the next generation of application that will make the tablet the computer of choice?
I think education is ready for an overhaul. The textbook is long dead and the internet is full of odd and unreliable pitfalls. While wikipedia has a lot of good information, the potential for misinformation is also large. So the classroom of the future will be handing out iPads at the beginning of class. As the science teacher begins to explain some chemical theory, the molecular example will appear on the students desktop iPads. As the instructor goes over the various bondings, the student can follow along and explore building different molecules. Time for a pop quiz, the instructor can pass the tests directly to the students individual iPads and even randomize the correct answers to prevent cheating.
So, what's to prevent us from building this classroom of the future now? Nothing. Is it underdevelopment? Probably. Will the iPad be the platform of choice for the class room of the future? No telling, but the Android or Windows 7 alternatives are not here yet.
I look forward to what is about to start happening as a result of Apple's iPad release. And I want to see how HP/MSFT respond with their system. And I want to see if Google can do better than the Nexus with their tablet system.
The iPad on my desk does not immediately replace the laptop I am writing this with. It plays games in astounding new ways that are as different for computing as the Wii was for gaming several years ago. Of course the innovation will come about as hundreds of thousands of us start playing, working and developing on the iPad. HP and Google can and will catch up in the near future.
What will become of the category is a guess at this point. But I can bet that I won't be buying another iPod Touch now that the iPad is available. And I might not need to buy another laptop for my daughter who's MacBook developed a serious screen crack a few weeks ago.
On the other hand, my MBP is in serious need of an upgrade, so I am in the market for a new machine as soon as Apple upgrades the line to incorporate the new Intel processors. I want to get this serious work completed quicker so I can get on with the serious fun of invisioning the future on Apple's iPad, or the Android device or the Windows 7 tablet.