Tablet Wars and iPad Ship Dates

Ah, yes, real choice. On your right we have the iPad, on your left a bevy of Android tablets, center-right we have RIM’s Playbook and center-left the HP/Palm TouchPad. And call me impressed. They are all interesting players in this market and have a chance to do big things. Of course, only one is really shipping — the iPad — and the devil is in the details. Lets see how the other devices actually work before calling winners and losers. Again from my January post, Apple and HP have the tablet advantage here because they understand how to distribute product outside of the carriers.

The discussion that is peaking my interest is the “when should the iPad ship” discussion. The gist of the argument, started by John Gruber at Daring Fireball, is that moving iPad launches to the fall positions the iPad as a holiday purchase item like iPods.

While I understand his reasoning, I respectfully disagree. March or April is the perfect time. I can sum this up in one word: education.

The iPad is going to be huge in education. I have never seen technology being adopted in the classroom as fast as this is. The reason is simple: the iPad fills the need education understood in the Palm days. Students are more engaged, can learn more and in their style, and direct manipulation (touch or pen) changes kids’ psyche like no other technology that has come before. Palm missed this one when they fired their education team in 2005. Apple, five years later, is picking up the slack. (Disclaimer: Palm’s dumb-ass decision cost me millions of dollars.)

Why is spring important for education? Because all the major trade shows and all of the budgets happen in the spring and summer. By bringing out new technology in the spring, Apple can ride that natural wave into the classroom.

And I doubt any kid is going to forget about the iPad by the time they’re writing letters begging Santa for Christmas gifts.