The iPad’s cultural impact will far surpass the number of units it sells. It may be only 3 million people that buy the iPad this year, but the number that will reimagine how they use devices will be far greater. And that will be the lasting impact of the iPad. In three years, we’ll look back and marvel not at how many units Apple sold, but at the way Apple changed computing. The iPad may not have GPS (at least in the WiFi-only version), but it’s a road map for where computing is going: Curated, cloud-based experiences that are visual and tactile.
It seems to me that Apple and Google need to learn to play together for the Apple-and-the-Cloud dream to work. (Go read Tim O'Reilly's long but articulate thoughts on the State of the Internet Operating System.)
It will work one day, though. I have a friend who is a Vice President for a data-intensive corporation. I told her two years ago that Chief Technology Officer will make as much sense in the 21st century as Chief Electricity Officer did for most of the 20th. (Yes, they used to have such things.) Chief Information Officer, now, that's a whole other kettle of fish. She disagrees. I know I'm right; I look forward to crowing one day very soon. She will owe me a very expensive dinner.
But it won't happen until cloud computing is a utility; until we have non-denominational access. The day I can pick up a gadget and use it like a can opener, and not think about downloading this or that or some other thing to make it talk to the can, or the label on the can, or the contents of the can, that's the day I'll be happy. That's the day I get to resign from my job as my own Chief Technology Officer, and turn into a contented consumer.