What a beautiful, shiny thing the iPad is

The iPad continues to sell like hot cakes and there’s no doubt it’s beautiful, shiny and wonderful to behold although basically, as a colleague said to me over the weekend, it’s a toy.  And it’s a very expensive toy indeed – in the UK the very very high end with 64GB of memory plus wi-fi and 3G costs £699.

And you can’t even print from it yet.

Of course, Apple really does know to make expensive shiny toys – a colleague at the Intel Developer Forum showed his off to us a couple of weeks ago. It’s shiny, it’s compelling, it’s only £129. It has the cachet of having the Apple logo on it. That means a lot. At a conference a couple of years back one of the delegates had a Dell machine with an Apple logo pasted onto the back. This wasn’t very compelling, it was very very sad.

This Apple logo means oh so much. It sets you aside from the hoi polloi – it shows that you have the money to lash out on something your next door neighbour might think twice about. It shows you are hip and it shows you are cool. And perhaps it also shows you are firmly in the talons of a marketing machine that has got you exactly where it wants you.

As usual, the rest – that is to say the rest of the industry – has been completely sideswiped by Apple and is playing catch up as fast as it can. And there is light at the end of the tunnel. The bill of materials (BOM) on an Apple iPad doesn’t match what people pay for it.  

There are plenty of tablets coming along too – while it may be the case that they don’t have that expensive Apple logo on the back, quite a few of them will be pretty functional, run the Android OS, and have a heap of applications available that can match the very pretty ones we’ve seen on the iPad.

And you won’t be in a walled garden where Eve, or you if you’re Adam, are tempted by the devil in disguise into eating the forbidden fruit that is the knowledge of good and evil.

Android based tablets – even if they haven’t got an Apple logo on them – are likely to be as good, if not better than the iPad or the iPad to come – whatever that’s going to be called. Of course, you can’t discount the genius of Apple’s marketing and advertising team, but there is a future for Android. Google’s no slouch at the marketing game, either.

The discerning aren’t necessarily gulled by that Apple logo and personally I think I’ll just wait for another shiny toy to come along that’s half or much less than half the cost of a shiny shiny iPad. I’d buy an iPad if it was £150 and was functional. An Android tablet seems a logical choice to me in the future. And no, it won’t displace a fully fledged notebook PC although we think everyone has kind of wised up to netbooks by now. They just don’t cut it, do they? And neither do the “App stores” for netbooks that Intel pushed like crazy at the last IDF.