Everyone from ReadWriteWeb to Huffpo seems to be focused on what the iPad doesn't have. Thats not the point. What we should really be talking about how the iPad stacks up to its nearest relatives, and how the ipad will do a better job of giving people what they want.
These two devices are not competitive. The Kindle is simply new book format, one that drastically shrinks the physical size of the book and makes it much easier to buy. These are great features, but the kindle is too slow with its monochromatic screen to make it a good email, photo browsing or RSS reading device.
In a previous post, "Kindle: reshaping the computer industry" , I wrote about how much I liked the form factor, and despite the Kindle not delivering on all the potential (email, blogging, commenting, rss), I could see this mid size range become its own device category. In the end, the Kindle offers a decent niche devices for book lovers AND it makes a great case for the tablet form factor or ipad.
iPhone / Ipod touch
Next, let's talk about the iPad's little brother, the iPhone/iPod touch. After two previous attempts to use the phone, and a full switch two months ago (I'm in Paris, where I've got the choice of 4 carriers), I still don't like the device as a phone.
I you break the functionality breaks down into two parts
1) the phone (calling, sms, email) 2) the reader (everything on the ipod touch).
The reader experience is the real game changer. On the phone side of things, the experience is still clumsy compared to my blackberry. The reader on the other hand, is a joy to use, and I use it so much I never have any juice left for phone calls. Even with just wifi access, I'm hooked on the apps. I read rss feeds with mobile rss , surf the web with safari, catch up with friends on Facebook, and read the NYTimes, Le Monde, etc. The only thing I could ask for, is a bigger screen..... which yet again points to the ipad.
Last, let's look at the booming netbook category. Is anyone really happy with their netbook? Everyone ran out to buy one of these tiny devices with visions of no strings attached web surfing, emailing, writing, etc .... But what they got was compromise. The keyboards turn out to be tiny, the processors underpowered even for basic use, and at arms length the 9-10inch screen seems much smaller than you thought. It's almost as if you would be better off holding it in your hands, like a book or like an....
Yes, ipad. Not only do all 3 of these devices make the case for the ipad, but they also make the case that it doesn't really need any fancy extra features to succeed. What good is multitasking if its slow? Or flash if it crashes? The ipad just needs to deliver on a good screen, iPhone / iPod touch like ease of use, and reasonable battery life. Everything else, from the enhanced processor, to the ipad specific apps , and the 3g connectivity are just the icing on the cake.
( Ok, they should just throw in a camera to get everyone to shut up about it )