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) - The age of the iPad has arrived -- and, at least so far,


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latest toy lacks some shine.

The iPad coming out party was like the technology sector equivalent of a Junior League of Alabama debutante ball. The iPad did not hit the launch pad with a thud, but it didn't exactly rocket from the launch pad either. There are questions as to whether the iPad will stick with consumers.

The more important question for Apple investors, however, is whether the iPad will pad profits of the technology giant.

Has the Apple fallen too far from the tree? Will the iPad rot Apple's core?

On Jan. 29, Apple hit its lowest stock price since early December -- of course, that week was a down for the overall markets -- but Apple stock did slide in the two days after the iPad launch.

Many Apple watchers had anticipated that the new tablet device would debut with a price tag of $999. Apple surprised the market with Steve Jobs stealing a page from Ron Popeil's infomercial playbook and offering the iPad at the low-low price of $499.

Maybe some of the negative reaction to the iPad has to do with the price: there is a fine line between over-pricing and pricing at a point where U.S. consumers assume the device can't be all that great if it's too easily within reach of their wallets.

Other commentators have said they can think of a lot better things to do with $500 in this uncertain economy, so maybe it's not really about the exact price point. Early adopters in the tech geek universe are always well ahead of the en masse consumer rush into a new technology, anyway.

Maybe the fact that 10% of the U.S. population is still unemployed has just made it an inopportune time to introduce a new toy -- though the success of


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e-reader would suggest that finding an audience for the right product will not be a problem.

The range of comments about the iPad has been all over the place, with the

New York Times

even writing an article about the poor name selected for the tablet device, as it evoked feminine-hygiene products. The iPod/iPad dual branding attack seems obvious from another perspective.

iPad, iTab, iSlab, -- clearly, Apple enthusiasts did not all find the name iFab, and there's been a lot, maybe too much, iBlab.

More serious concerns have been voiced about the iPad's ability to create a revolution in consumer habits and computer application design. Will the iPad kindle a new way of thinking about consumer devices that ultimately destroys the Kindle?

iPad bulls say that the device will take what have been mere toys on the iPhone and turn them into full-fledged powerful applications. The opportunity has been created for designers to recreate every single desktop and Web software type.

iPad detractors argue that Apple hasn't found the sweet spot between the iPhone, the Kindle and the popular netbook with the iPad's launch. Consumers who want an e-reader first and foremost don't need the iPad, and consumers who want a tiny computer will still prefer the functionality of a netbook.

Thus, we ask the tech-savvy reader of the


, will investors be had if they bet on the success of the iPad?

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.


>>Apple Unveils the iPad

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