Apple iPad Emphasizes Form Factor

Apple’s launch of its new iPad tablet this week offered few surprises and further confirmed the company’s mantra of maintaining its closed system when it comes to content.

The device, which features a 9.7-inch LED backlit display, measures 0.5 inches thick and weighs in at 1.5 pounds runs on Apple’s new A4 next generation chip and features a 10 hour battery life (depending on how it’s used). Compared to an oversized iTouch, Apple is marketing the iPad as a bridge between smartphones and laptops and netbooks. All models feature built-in Wi-Fi connectivity; pricier versions feature both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity over AT&T’s data network—the same used for Apple’s iPhone—although, unlike the iPhone, plans will not require long-term contracts with AT&T.

Prices start at $499 for the 16 GB model, $599 for the 32 GB model $699 for the 64 GB model; an extra $30 is tacked on to 3G-based versions. The Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad will be available in April in the United States and selected countries.

Content-wise, the iPad is not much more of an extension of what its iTouch and iPhone devices offer, emphasizing the company’s highly successful, but tightly controlled iTunes online media store. Any app purchased through Apple’s App Store will work on the iPad. New content deals announced at Steve Job’s press conference announcing the device this week focused on books with a new iBooks app featuring works from Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin, and Macmillan. Many industry pundits claim that the first victim to fall at the expense of the iPad will be Amazon's Kindle e-reader.

Likewise, the iPad’s video options are no different than those offered on its mobile devices. Apple continues to refuse to recognize Adobe’s Flash video standard, among the most popular video formats on the Web and the basis for one of the most popular Web video sites, “Not including Flash is largely a political and business decision and is Apple’s attempt at freeing the Web from Adobe’s stronghold,” said Chuck Matlin, on Slate’s Big Money Web site on Wednesday.

Like other product launches before, Apple’s iPad introduction was greeted with both high praise as well as catcalls, primarily over its lack of what many consider essential functions in a device of its size, namely USB connectivity and a Webcam.

Read more about the iPad at TWICE.