US: After the speculation and pre-hype, Apple has finally unveiled its iPad, writes Music Week's Eamonn Forde. The touchscreen tablet device will ship to retail in 60 days and is primarily positioned as an e-reader. As expected, it has already been described by tech bloggers as a "Kindle killer".
In look and feel, it comes over like a large iPhone or iPod Touch. It also has many of the same features integrated, most notably the fact that "almost all" 140,000 apps on the Apple App Store will work straight away on the device without modification.
Of course, iTunes is part of the software package, but the launch did not focus on music at all, preferring instead to look at how it runs games, imaging, text and websites.
It has storage of up to 64GB and Wi-Fi capability as well as a bolt-on 3G option through AT&T in the US.
Apple product launches for most of the past decade focused on music, from the iPod, through iTunes and last year's iTunes LP. As a cross-media connected device, it has enormous potential for entertainment content overall. So what will the iPad mean specifically for music?
Of course, much speculation surrounded Apple's acquisition of Lala last year, but last Wednesday's announcement did not cast any light on what could happen here in regards to cloud-based streaming.
As it stands, where the opportunity for music lies will depend entirely on third-party app developers and content suppliers.
Just as the App Store saw a rush of product innovation, music-specific apps can now be built to take advantage of the device's 9.7-inch screen. It may take several months for these to trickle through, however.
For books, newspapers and magazines, however, this is an immense opportunity for music. Music audio and video can be embedded into content to change completely the experience of reading content on electronic devices.
There may be licensing concerns and complications, but music could prove essential to how the iPad changes the experience of written content delivered electronically and updated continually.
It is now down to content suppliers to figure out how and why music can be used to enhance their offerings.
Image courtesy of Apple.