laptop smaptop, netbooks, ipads, iphones and the cloudZDNet has a funny post this morning kind of poopooing the iPad and all things clouds. While for the most part I am in agreement that netbooks are a bad product (just a cheap and SLLLOOOWWW laptop with a mediocre screen.) And jumping on, or OFF as the case maybe, the eBook (Kindle, Nook, Sony, Ronco) band wagon is hard to imagine when you can have a two-way relationship with your “screen” on an iPhone, as on an iPad.

So as far as three screens of distribution, let’s see if we can nail this one clearly so all of those following along can understand.

SCREEN ONE: your desktop.
SCREEN TWO: your phone (mobile device, okay, but I’m talkin phones here)
SCREEN THREE: any access point to the web

So Steve Jobs did a nice job outlining the market place for mobile devices. Jobs started off showing how Apple is the largest mobile devices company in the world. (Okay, he’s including iP*o*ds, but hey… it’s mobile.)  Then he asked about a category between the phone and the laptop. Is there room for yet another device?

FAIL #1: Netbook.
FAIL #2: Kindle.

Here’s what ZDNet had to say about the “screens.”

“I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but Apple released a new product last week. The i-something-or-other. The meager media coverage, despite it’s generally low-key nature, did give me pause, though. While the iPad (yes, my tongue is now dislodged from my cheek) doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me outside of its potential to change the e-book landscape, it brought me back to an idea I’d first discussed with fellow ZDNet blogger: ‘The Screen.'” — Dumping my laptop for…a server? from ZDNet

What goes for mediocre coverage I don’t know, but I’m still seeing the iPad/iSlate or just plain Apple as a trending topic everywhere in technology. And that’s where our problem is. The iPad is not a technology product. Us techno-geeks are frustrated by the speed of our iPhone 3Gs phones, and angered by the processor lag on our Core 2 Duo laptops. And all of us saw the Sports Illustrated demo prior to Steve Jobs trying to do a “wow” demo last week. But guess what, the techno-geeks were underwhelmed. (Check this, I think they were underwhelmed, “officially” by the iPhone release too.)

But here’s the difference. The phone and the slate are not tech products! Listen to that again: The phone and the slate computer are NOT tech products. In fact, it’s often the TECH that gets in the way of a good experience with these products.

So what are they?

The iPhone is a fantastically successful consumer product. AT&T’s network sags under the new volume of traffic trying to keep the 8 million iPhones online and connected. The gaming industry is trying to play catchup with their devices. Ever seen the “so so” Nintendo DSi? And what’s the problem with the PSP?

So gaming and consumer connectivity and entertainment are the consumer products of the 2010’s. And let me clue you in on something… The fastest selling phone, is soon to become the fastest selling “new computer category.” And the Kindle, the Nook, and poor Sony’s “WalkBook,” well, if you have one, I hope you enjoy it. The iPad is using an OPEN BOOK technology to deliver content to the screen. We will be able to build our own iPad-enhanced books. And GIVE them to you.

So it’s hard to imagine at this moment, for many people how the iPad is going to matter. But doubt not the iPad as you may have doubted the iPhone in the past. Here’s why: It’s a HUGE IPHONE.

And what the iPhone does great the iPad is going to do GREATer. And possibly GREATest. But there’s probably a smaller iPhone on the way. And maybe a bigger iPad next year before the holidays. And here’s how that works.

When the iPhone came out soooo many people said, it would not matter. Mostly it was the competitors and “wow, we’re in trouble” manufacturers putting up the ho-hum smoke screen of misinformation. Well, what happened?

So along comes the iPad. And the MEME is the silly name. (UH, WHAT?) The name? They could call this thing the iPhone-H1N1 and people are going to line up to catch it. I know I am trying to find out where to pause my money so I am on the first delivery list. Maybe I need to call in that favor to Guy Kawasaki and see what he can do.

Final bit: People with iPhones can’t say enough about how AWESOME they are. My son is 9, his iPod Touch is his most coveted device. And one by one his friends are saving their money to get them. And the little black slate that couldn’t is becoming a SMASH HIT. We don’t know what the iPad will become, because we cannot think big enough. We didn’t think the iPhone was going to change GOOGLE, but it did. In fact, the iPhone changed everything.

I think you will believe in the iPad by the end of the summer. When you see the games that are running and selling massively on the iPhone, running on a device over twice as big, you’re jaw is going to drop. When you see the web come to life in your hand with swipes, pinches, double clicks, and the whole thing is smaller than a Kindle or Netbook… Case closed.

John McElhenney @jmacofearth

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