iPad? iDisapointed.

Stephanie Bergman is a Social Media and Product Management consultant friend of mine. She’s very sharp, a good compass of where to go. Here’s her opinion of the iPad, and you can find her blog here. And yes, I’ll have my own opinion.

Earlier today, Apple announced the tablet computer the world has been waiting for. And it isn't quite a tablet or a computer. It's more of an entertainment device – a "third category" as Steve Jobs put it – and one I don't really think the world needs.

I've never been really excited about the idea of a tablet, so I was biased from the start. A keyboard is pretty essential to me for anything, I type very fast and have no patience for anything that slows me down. That said, I was still curious to see what Apple was going to do beyond making a really big iPod Touch. I mean, this is Steve Jobs, I expect to see a paradigm shift, a massive step forward, a change in the way we do things. That's where I'm disappointed.

The iPad is a big, expensive ($499 for the cheapest version without 3G), iPod touch.

The positive – there are going to be people who will love this thing (other than the usual Apple fan boys/girls). It's gorgeous, and if beautiful design is your thing, you're going to love using this. It's a nice entertainment device, a decent size to watch television on, iPod, and a good ebook reader. If someone doesn't have access to a television or other computer, this could fill that gap. Maybe someone with roommates or college students. Business folks will also love whipping this out in a meeting to do a presentation. Assuming, of course, that they don't mind presenting in Keynote. It's also going to open up an entirely new world of computer gaming as people innovate with the touch screen interface. Someone who travels a lot would like this as well (battery life is reportedly around 10 hours) – so long as they don't mind using the screen to type, or carrying another laptop/netbook.

There definitely IS a use for this. I simply don't think that now is the time for it. It won't replace a computer – you can't run Word or PowerPoint on it, you can't even do something as simple as keep AIM open while surfing the web – and it isn't a phone either. No camera, no GPS, no keyboard, no Flash. How many programs are you running on the machine you're reading this post on? You couldn't do that, it's clearly not intended for work. This would have to be complimentary, an entertainment-focused device in addition to a computer and phone and a television…and that's where it loses me. The costs don't work out.

I'm not the average user, I know that. I have an iPhone, iPod, Netbook, Kindle, and Macbook Pro, and they all have different uses for me. I rarely watch videos online, that's what the Roku and TiVo are for, and I like being able to curl up in bed with a kindle without having to worry about touching the screen or it rotating. I have absolutely no use for the iPad, it doesn't offer me anything at all beyond what I already have.

Then there's a name. Immediately after the presentation was over, the word iTampon was trending on Twitter. The name iPad was not. The jokes are never going to end (in fact, they started years ago), and it gives me crazy giggles to think that there's an iPeriod app for the iPad.

The bottom line is – there is nothing revolutionary about this. It's pretty, it's cool, I'll absolutely drool over it when I see it, but that's about it. If any other company had announced this, I would have shrugged. But it's Apple – I expect innovation, and there's very little.

Oh well. But hey, it's first gen. I'll wait until next year for the brain implant.

Congrats, this is the 500th post on Usability Counts.