What the iPad is and is not

Research and Markets has released a special report on the Apple iPad and its significance for the graphic communications industry.

The report, entitled "The iPad: What it Is, What Its Not, and What it Means for Graphic Communication Professionals," was largely written on an iPad using Apple's Pages app, although the final report PDF was created in Adobe InDesign (which does not yet support the iPad).

The report provides a guided tour of the iPad and its interface and features; some early data on its market penetration in a variety of industries, including the print industry; a lengthy discussion of apps, both from a user and a developer point of view; current and emerging competitors to the iPad; and recommendations and implications for printers, publishers, graphic designers, and other communications providers. A section entitled, "8 Ways that the iPad Will Affect Print" examines how Apple's hottest-selling portable computer and future tablet computers have the potential to displace print and paper in a wide variety of applications.

Research and Markets says an important point to highlight is that the iPad isn't about the iPad. Ergo; it's not about the specific device, but rather the general approach to content and the users changing access to and interaction with content, that is important — issues that will become even more important once competing devices appear on the market in volume.

The report also notes that there's also a very real tendency to erect a wall of skepticism and cynicism about new technologies like the iPad, and affirms that a contrarian mindset has been a hallmark of Research and Markets analysis since Day One. However, the authors commendably point out that there is a big difference between being contrarian and just being ornery, and that reflexively dismissing anything new is just as unproductive and pointless as accepting everything carte blanche.

When it's asserted that the iPad as the greatest thing since sliced bread, the analysts say they've always thought sliced bread was overrated, but contend that the advent of this class of device has the potential to further change people's relationship with content and how they receive it, and they explore throughout this report how the iPad can actually function as a complete information and entertainment centre all by itself, — useful to read books, access the Internet, read news and information, stream TV shows and movies (thanks to a Netflix app that lets subscribers watch movies right on their iPads), play music or games, and if you can squeeze it in, maybe even get work done thanks to Apple's iWork apps for iOS.

Not a bad start for a first-generation device. Think of what successive generations may be capable of.