Apple announced the original iPad on January 27, 2010, and the
technology world hasn’t been the same since. Customers rushed to buy
the tablet, snapping up more than 300,000 the day it went on sale.
Competitors rushed to copy it, with Samsung, Motorola, Amazon, and others
creating their own variations on the app-friendly touchscreen device
within two years. (And Windows 8-based tablets wait in the wings.)
In the spring of 2012, Apple released the third generation of the iPad. Like
its predecessor, the iPad 2, this latest model came with a pair of cameras,
but it improved on all iPads before it with a razor-sharp screen (called a
Retina display) and a robust processor to power it.
Apple still dominates the tablet category; as of March 2012, the iPad had
73 percent of the market. So why has the iPad proven so popular, even as
competitors rush to put out their own interpretations? One theory: combine
a growing desire for Internet access and a shift to digital music, books,
and video with a sophisticated, fast, lightweight touchscreen device, and
you have a gadget perfectly suited to the world of personal media devices.
You can add to that Apple’s new emphasis on the “post-PC” world, where
you don’t have to connect the iPad to your computer to set it up, fill it up,
or back it up. The arrival of iOS 5 and iCloud in October 2011 means that
your iPad can be your primary window to the Internet for work, play, and
cat videos—no heavy, bulky laptop needed, because you’re living in an airy
ecosystem where all your stuff is safely online, Up There if you need it.
And thanks to the 200,000 third-party apps already available, the iPad
can move beyond being just a platter that serves up media and Internet
content. In fact, it can pretty much be whatever you want it to be.
Come to think of it, that’s probably why it’s so popular.