For me, the biggest surprise in the iPad announcement, apart from the unexpectedly low price, was the introduction of a touch version of iWork. In one move Apple has demonstrated that the iPhone OS is capable of running grown-up business applications. It means that almost any Mac application can be rewritten and presented on the iPad and other future touch devices.
Omni Group have already confirmed they are working on iPad versions of their productivity apps, including my favourite OmniFocus. Within weeks, I believe, we will hear more such announcements from other software developers.
Pundits are now coming into the open and agreeing with Steve Jobs that the iPad changes the game. It is neither computer nor phone/PDA. It is being described as an "appliance" with suggestions that it will create a whole new genre. There is a very real possibility that the iPad (and similar products from other manufacturers) can replace laptops and netbooks as portable productivity devices.
The naysayers are in full voice, just as they were when the iPhone was announced. They are discounting the iPad on detail (such as the current lack of multi-tasking or the absence of a front-facing camera) but none can use price as a factor. The iPad is priced to leap off the shelves. Some are saying that a MacBook, for instance, can do so much more. Of course, in many ways it can and does. But this is missing the point: for a whole range of day-to-day activities such as email, web browsing, gaming, even reading books, the iPad is all you need. Thousands of people have MacBooks and other computers when they never fully use the potential. I know dozens of people who use a computer just for emails, the web, and chatting. They merely scratch the surface of OS X.
For the moment, of course, the iPad is hardly a stand-alone device. You need a computer of sorts to run iTunes for synchronisation, but this will change over time. I suspect almost all the early adopters will be iPhone users who also have another computer. They have seen the potential of the iPhone and will flock to a larger-screened device offering the same simplicity of operation. When they find iWork, OmniFocus and other major applications ported to the iPad they will have little cause to lug around even a MacBook Air.