Our sister blog Gadgetell points out that it’s been just over a year since we first saw Steve Jobs come on stage with his clipboard-sized wonder tablet the iPad and show us for the first time just what it was capable of and how much it cost.

Since then, the device has proceeded to redefine what we thought of as a tablet—certainly there had been tablets before, but none of them exactly set the world on fire. The iPad, on the other hand, did set the world on fire, opening up new possibilities for reading not only e-books, but also e-papers and e-magazines. A year later, other tablet makers are only just starting to catch up.

On Gadgetell, JG Mason suggests that the major reason for this might have been the apps. There’s a reason that “there’s an app for that” has become such a hackneyed phrase that Apple trademarked it. Because odds are, there is an app for that. (Unless, of course, “that” is something adult-oriented.)

Sure the hardware is great and is married to good software; but its the apps that make the product shine.  As an iOS user, I have no issue dropping less than $2 a few times a week.  My experience with Android and her apps twist my need to control the device, alter settings and my app use reflects that – and I hate paying for software customization apps.  Weird right?

For e-reading, the iPad offers all the versatility of the iPhone plus a larger screen size, so people willing to put up with reading from LCD find they have plenty of choices in how to do it: iBooks, Amazon, eReader, Nook, Kobo…the possibilities go on and on. And there are ways to read magazines, RSS feeds, social network feeds, and other methods of Internet reading that have never been seen before.

I’ll admit that I can sometimes wax overenthusiastic about the iPad and Apple gizmos in general. But they’re just so darned easy to use, and offer a great user interface, I think I have good reason to be. Anyway, let someone else come out with something anywhere near as revolutionary as the iPad, and I’ll enthuse all over that, too.

But enthusiastic or not, I honestly think the iPad has done a lot for the e-book industry over the last few months. Perhaps as much as the Kindle in some ways. If people were going to buy a single-use device for reading e-books, yes, the Kindle was what they’d choose. But the Kindle can’t do much other than read e-books. The iPad, on the other hand, has a whole raft of non-e-book-related uses, and if someone who buys one for those other uses and tries an e-book finds himself hooked, well, that’s one more customer for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or whoever.

(Just as was the case with the iPhone, and for that matter the original Palm Pilot PDA. Though neither of those accomplished anything on quite the iPad’s scale)


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