The iPad will need more mileage with MPG

Two of the most acute editorial minds in the business used this final week before the introduction of the iPad to weigh in on its impact. Lance Ulanoff says that the iPad, while successful, won’t be a game changer whereas Mike Elgan characterizes the iPad as a paradigm shift and the dawn of the era of “MPG” (Multitouch, Physics, Gestures) computing.

in fact, the perspectives are not irreconcilable. Lance discusses the iPad as a product standing on its own merits whereas Mike discusses it more as a symbol of what the future of computing could hold. There is a certain approachability and natural quality about “MPG” that I believe helped the iPhone broaden the smartphone market even before apps came on the scene. However, that doesn’t mean that the difference is necessarily enough to force a new device class into consumers’ hands, particularly when there is significant and well-understood quasi-competition such as netbooks..

Indeed, Mike characterizes Microsoft’s Surface table as an “MPG” device, but price size and other factors have prevented Surface from cracking the mass market or even the consumer market. That said, I believe Microsoft is working on ways to make at least part of Surface available on smaller LCDs

I found it an interesting coincidence that, in a recent Laptop Magazine piece, fellow analysts Tim Bajarin, Roger Kay, and Michael Gartenberg – all long-time Apple watchers – agreed with me that first year estimates for the iPad are in the five million unit range. As I noted in that article, it’s an auspicious start, but doesn’t necessarily mean that the iPad will displace anything or becoming so much of a need-to-have that it becomes firmly established as the elusive “fourth screen.”

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