What is it?
I'm still not entirely sure who this is for and whether it's suppose to be a primary or secondary device. My particular demographic (technologically inclined with a little bit of disposal income, but still very aware of bills that need paying) seems to have been pretty apathetic during the keynote until the price shoe dropped.
The marketing blitz is certainly trying to position it as a secondary device between a laptop and a smartphone. The keynote had it shown being plugged into a Mac a couple times to sync it, basically like an iPhone. But why couldn't it essentially work as a primary device? To focus on the obstacles, there are only a couple things that the iPad (probably) really sucks at.
• Generating/manipulating large amounts of text
• Keyboard-driven gaming
• Questionable music device
The keyboard dock essentially solves the first two, and the keynote featured a first person shooter using the touch interface. (I get to the music later.) The point is that the iPhone interface was a large step in making digital material feel much more corporeal and malleable. [1. If this continues, I wonder how this will affect the valuation of bits vs. atoms.] To the perhaps latent fear of nerds everywhere, it's a much more intuitive interface for the peoples.
A Listening Experience
Steve says that it's "an awesome way to enjoy your music collection". Listen, I understand how the magic show works, but since the iPod application [2. I love that the app is still called iPod. Archeologists from the future will think that what we called music.] was on the screen for seven seconds and didn't use the buzz words "dream", "magic", or "it just works" Apple sort of tipped their hand.
I literally can't see how music on the iPad can be an "awesome" experience. Unless there is something severely magical behind that half-inch tall grill the only magical thing it will sound like is unicorn turds. This is compounded by the awkward experience of trying to use the iPad as a portable music device.
This is one of the gaps where the iPad has circles run around it by the iPhone and it still doesn't solve the relatively unpleasant experience of listening to music on a laptop. This has got to really chap Apple's ass, since they have a lot to owe the iPod. So here's the plan: get back behind AirTunes. The iPhone Remote app is gnarly and the extra real estate on the iPad would just make it better. Better yet! When the iPad 2.0 or whatever comes out, grab harmon/kardon or Sennheuser or Dr. Dre and roll out some speakers that work on Bluetooth without any sort of intermediary. I'm sure audiophiles will shudder, but all their music is on 200 gram vinyl so it doesn't matter anyway.
Gadget Proliferation Treaties
How much is 16 GB to you? To me, it's a tiny amount since my music collection only is over five times that size. To somewhat who doesn't hoard, it might be more reasonable. Obviously the hard drive is miniscule compared to a MacBook Pro, but we are talking about solid state drives. If the iPad is Apple's attempt to steal the "netbook" market, I'm a little surprised the word "cloud" never came up.
I'm also not surprised, the term is mostly associated with Google as well as being a priority of Microsoft's under Ray Ozzie. Given Apple's services in this realm, (the less said about .mac the better) I wouldn't invoke the names of my archnemeses either. But given that Apple still sells iPod that have almost ten times the capacity they have to be cognisant of alternate storage solutions.
To go back to the Evil Empire, one of their ad campaigns for Windows 7 focused on making all the devices in your house work together, which sounds a hell of a lot like "it just works". (Isn't it bizarre that Windows still has 700% market share but no presence in the zeitgeist at all? Hilarious.) If everyone is going to have an iPhone, and an iPad, and a MacBook what sort of formats are going to work across all three of those?
And One More Thing
I'd get those iPad jokes out of the way now because they're going to age about as well as your Wii jokes did.