I'm a power user; a professional software designer and developer. I use computers (specifically, Macs running Mac OS X) to do my job and I'm guessing that most of you are in the same boat.
Most people are not power users, they mainly consume content using their computer rather than produce it. When they produce content it's more casual: posting to Twitter, updating Facebook, writing personal blog entries and notes, uploading photos. Their personal computer usage may include the following:
- Chatting with friends
- Sending and receiving email
- Listening to music
- Watching videos
- Playing games
- Browsing the web
The iPad excels at almost all of those things. Some of those tasks can be done at the same time on the iPad (or using the same application) but some cannot, so building multitasking into the iPad seems like the logical way to fully duplicate how most people use their personal computers at the moment.
Most people who attended the iPad unveiling and are now writing about the iPad are misunderstanding its intended audience because they're not in it. Some smart folks — who happen to also be power users — see the iPad's potential and are trying to convince everyone else. This will certainly take some time, just like there are still iPhone doubters even after Apple sold 40 million of them.
The market for potential iPad users is tremendous, possibly larger than the iPhone's market. There are millions of PC users who are dissatisfied with their virus-ridden, clunky computers who just want it to work better for the simple things they do every day. They might want a MacBook knowing that it's easier to use, but the thousand-dollar price point scares them off. But wait! For $500 less they can own a piece of Apple technology that lets them do almost everything they currently do in a form-factor that's more convenient, mobile and beautiful. This is the iPad's intended audience. People who have a PC and use 10% of its features and software 90% of the time. People like my Mom & Dad who browse the web, read news, send email and watch videos. People like my cousin Jenny who chats with friends, uses Facebook and uploads photos. Regular folks. Consumers. People who use computers to stay informed, connected and entertained.
There are also many people not in the iPad's intended audience who want one, myself included. We'd use it as a secondary computing device; a casual, home-browsing entertainment piece. The iPad is perfect for this.
The iPad is not made for you, it's made for everyone else.