Moritz: Apps will reveal iPad’s value

Is there anything the iPad can’t do? Yes. There’s no iSight camera, no keyboard, no Mac operating system, no cup holder, no nail clippers, no odometer. And sorry ladies, it’s not a tampon either.

Consumers, bloggers and speech-impaired news anchors currently assert that the iPad is not worth their time or money. And today, they are right. But like all human beings, they fail to consider how different tomorrow will be.

Right now, the iPad is just an iPod Touch on steroids. It is bigger and more powerful, but looks just like its smaller counterpart. It features all the applications available to the iPod Touch, with a few extra toys that might please a 30-year-old suburban yuppie. People rightfully ask, “What’s the point of the iPad?” It’s too big to be a phone, and too impractical to be a laptop. It doesn’t even support Flash video, so forget about watching porn on it.

However, Apple created a device with a large touch screen and a powerful custom processor for more than just watching high-resolution porn. Like the iPod Touch, the iPad will eventually attract customers for one reason: new applications. With the iPhone, Apple gave application developers a cramped Post-It note to work with; now, they have given them a full-sized canvas. Developers will create practical applications that exploit the advantages of the larger, faster iPad, and will widen the gadget’s target demographic from rich, bored yuppies to just about anybody.

A handwriting notebook application, for example, could entice college students, who need to quickly draw diagrams in class and save them on a computer. An illustrator application could lure graphic designers to start using their fingers instead of a mouse. Already, the presentation application on the iPad is probably the most intuitive tool out there for designing beautiful business presentations. With the iPad, developers will have the opportunity to design applications that will outperform behemoths like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. Forget cool but useless iPhone “apps”; the iPad is a sketchpad for practical applications.

When people had to slowly type in complicated codes to perform any task on a computer, Apple popularized the mouse and the desktop-style home screen. When we compromised for MP3 players that were impractical, expensive and difficult to use, Apple unveiled the iPod. When we cramped our fingers to use cell phones, Apple gave birth to the iPhone. When the public settles for less and is forced to adapt to poorly designed products, this company finds a better way and creates a smarter device. Last week, Gabriel Perlman condemned Apple’s “iridescent imagery, tantalizing touch-pads, and abundant applications.” However, consider that Apple has always upped the standard for what we demand from computers: Why sneer in the face of the company who has done the most to improve the computer experience? The iPad foreshadows what we will want from computers in five years: unobstructed Internet access, single-click media consumption, and a touchscreen that we crave to slide our fingers along.

Last week, the iPad was less useful than a doorstop. But once developers start churning out useful applications for that blank canvas, we will all want one. Last week, as we whined about the iPad’s shortcomings, Apple silently positioned itself at the helm of the blooming touch-computing market, producing a refined canvas yearning for undrawn masterpieces.

But, until it comes out, rejoice in the fact that the name sounds like a tampon.

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