Okay, so ever since the iPad was announced, people have been scratching their heads - as they've done about tablets for years - to try and figure out what the thing is for
. Steve Jobs himself famously asked why someone would want a device to surf the Web in the bathroom. Hospitals, one of the main vertical markets for tablets, have already indicated interest in the iPad
, and Jobs highlighted the device's e-reader capabilities. But other than traditional tablet markets, what would be a "killer app" that would make Apple's unfortunately-named device a top seller? Industry analysts are increasingly coming to the conclusion that it might be television
The Tech Trader Daily blog at Barron's fronts a note by Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett
trying to reconstruct Apple's strategy in designing the iPad. He recalls that Apple has been pushing a "best-of-TV
" subscription strategy with its AppleTV device and iTunes. Noting that AppleTV has really never found its market, Moffett asks us to envision a future where the iPad is a set-top box at home, piping high-def video to your television via its dock connector. When you leave the house, you unplug the iPad and take it with you, watching live TV on the go via 3G, and recorded video on the plane using the "DVR" which is the iPad's flash drive.
Mark Sigal at O'Reilly Radar comes at the same question from a slightly different angle
. He points to Major League Baseball's app, which overlays live programming, graphics, stats and video clips in a manner that he calls "simultaneously immersive, interactive and highly entertaining." This vision of what Sigal calls "TV Anywhere" makes more sense as a killer app than merely e-books or mobile browsing or productivity apps alone: though the fact that the device can do more than one thing well should help find it a niche.
The fact remains, though, that there's really little that the iPad can do that a MacBook can't do better, or that an iPhone can do as well... while still fitting into your pocket. About all the iPad has to distinguish it is its screen size and its ability to output HD video. The killer app that will make the iPad a revolutionary device like the iPhone may still be in the wings.
And it might require a jailbreak.
image via O'Reilly