iPad: the first reactions

"Our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price"… "It’s hard to believe we could fit so many great ideas into something so thin".

Oh, yes, the Apple machine is in full working order to pummel us with the semi-mystical language that we have come to know, love and hate.

For the official take, with the keynote from Steve Jobs, here’s the place to start. In essence, says Jobs, the iPad forms a new "third category", between smartphones and laptops. And it starts at $499. V.cheap. For an Apple.

Immediate reaction to the launch of the iPad is mixed. "It’s just a big iPhone," was the tone of many of the first comments at gizmodo.

That said, the more considered reaction of columnist John Herrman is often purring. "It’s hefty. Substantial. Easy to grip. Fast. Beautiful. Rigid. Starkly designed. The glass is a little rubbery but it could be my sweaty hands. And it’s fasssstttt."

It’s always worth knowing what Rory Cellan-Jones at the BBC has to say. While respecting the technology, Cellan-Jones is a little doubtful about the "new category" angle: "It’s not entirely clear if a huge number of people – apart from dedicated early adopters – are desperate for yet another device."

Our first reaction is that the "third category" stuff is a distraction. Behind the inevitable technical slickness and the usual Apple elegance, the real purpose of the iPad is to apply the hugely successful iTunes logic to the books and publishing sector. With the creation of iBooks, and the iPad’s mid-size (too big for your pocket, but fine for your bag), this is a device intended to reinvent the publishing sector. In time, Apple believes, we will all consume books, magazines and newspapers in the way that we increasingly listen to music – via Apple.

The New York Times takes up the same theme. Interestingly, first reaction from the publishing industry is positive. As John Makinson of Penguin puts it: "We have learned that it is never wise to stand between a consumer and a preference” in terms of how they get their content.

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