In Defense of Apple Tablet Mania

I'm excited about the new Apple Tablet (which I probably won't buy) the same way I was excited about the iPhone (which I don't own). The latter combined a phone and an iPod, mixed in a hundred thousand apps and created something more than an iPod that makes calls. It created Swiss Army Knife for the 21st century, a do-it-all machine that find directions, name that tune and pick our next restaurant. Similarly, I think the Apple Tablet, which will be something like the child of e-reader and a small computer, could turn out to be more than the sum of its ancestors. It could be a revolutionary personal entertainment device; an techie artists' easel; a super e-reader that allows magazines to evolve into multimedia heaven; a college students' textbook and notebook; the perfect tablet computer and so on.

So I disagree slightly with Matthew Yglesias' take that the Apple Tablet mania is just a bunch of hype:

But why do I want a tablet? Magazine publishers seem to want me to want a tablet because after I have my tablet I'm allegedly supposed to want to pay them for tablet versions of their magazines. But that can't be why I want a tablet. Is it supposed to replace my laptop? Is the idea that conventional laptops are too easy to type on? Or does it replace my kindle somehow? If you could make an iPhone-esque touch screen much bigger and do it at an affordable price, that might be a cool feature to ad to future MacBooks or iMacs--I'm sure programmers could devise something interesting to do with a new user interface--but nothing about typing on an iPhone has ever made me say if only I could replicate this experience in a device that doesn'tfit in my pocket!!!!

This is funny, but I don't think it's entirely fair. The one rhetorical question that goes unanswered here is "or does it replace my Kindle somehow?" Yes, that's exactly what it replaces. Except instead of merely replacing the Kindle, it reinvents what consumers are supposed to expect from their e-readers by adding entertainment and computer capabilities that carve out a new "smart-reader" category in the market the same way smart phones have slowly taken over the cell phone industry. I have no idea if this idea will catch like wildfire or blow up. But let's all wait until we see the product before we proclaim it redundant.