One of the biggest consumer product launches in history will officially happen on Saturday, April 3, when the Apple iPad goes on sale.
As pundits debate how the iPad can possibly live up to inflated expectations the early reviews of the device have been predominantly favorable and prelaunch sales are massive.
Media coverage went mainstream when the iPad was still just a rumor. Market research firms were forecasting demand for the Apple tablet computer in early January – weeks prior to the official product introduction event.
Some industry watchers and Apple enthusiasts were actually let down by the product they saw at the Jan. 27, 2010 launch event. Newsweek Senior Editor Daniel Lyons reported the next day that he left the event disappointed with what he saw. He's a much bigger fan now that he's actually handled the thing and calls it a "transformational" device.
Cnet, the web site about everything electronic, has already predicted that several electronic readers will be made obsolete by the Apple device and gone so far as to list the units that it believes are doomed.
New York Times columnist David Pogue calls it a "brilliant machine, a category-creator, a joy to use," even as he makes it clear that a laptop is still a better device for many uses.
Apps are key. In addition to running 150,000 Apple Store apps already, new software is being developed rapidly and web sites are being redesigned to suit the iPad screen.
With consumer demand, ready content, and mostly friendly media support, it seems Apple has the pieces in place for a product launch as big, or bigger, than its own previous iPhone launches. Only time will tell how well the device connects with users, and to what extent it transforms how computers and the internet are used.
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