After working on its highly-anticipated tablet device for three years (or more), Apple unveiled an expensive e-reader. While there's no doubt that this is just the first model of Apple's new tablet family, the iPad is a disappointing effort that fails to live up to the hype. The iPad is both an oversized iPod Touch and an under-powered netbook. Hitting stores on April 3, the iPad is aimed squarely at the Amazon ( AMZN) Kindle. Apple has a history of making bold attacks on humble devices; the iPod crushed MP3 players, the iPhone vastly improved on cellphones, and no doubt e-readers will never be the same again. Sony ( SNE) must be quaking in its galoshes.
The iPad price starts at $500 and tops off at $830 with 64 gigabytes of memory, but 3G wireless capability costs extra. By comparison, the Kindle sells for $260 with 2 gigabytes of memory; 3G wireless service is included. Apple shares fell 7.6% in the two days after the company unveiled the iPad. It's clear that thousands of people want a thin, color-screen reading tablet, but it's not clear that millions need it.