Many people are criticizing the iPad as being a giant iPhone/iPod Touch. They were hoping for something more like a macbook tablet and are disappointed. However, I argue that it is actually a good thing that the detractors are calling the iPad a giant iPod. The reason for this is that it makes it easy for consumers to understand the iPad very quickly. While it may be over-simplistic and meant as an insult, it only helps Apple to sell more iPads to consumers.
Consumers reading opinions on the iPad get 1 of 2 stories: Giant iPod or Immersive Content Consuming Experience. So if they like the idea of a larger iPod or the idea of a great interactive tablet then they will be interested in the iPad.
If Apple had tried to launch the iPad 4 years ago, before the iPhone/iPod touch, it may very well have failed. Consumers would not have understood it nor would there have been the app and html5 support that it enjoys now. By first building the iPhone/iPod touch, Apple exposed 80 million users to the power of the iPhone OS and App Store. Today, the Apple iPhone experience is well understood and well liked and has a powerful developer community behind it. For all of those reasons, the iPad will easily succeed now because users not only understand what it is and how it works, but it works better than a netbook or one of the myriad of tablets that will be coming out in the next few months because it was designed from the ground up for the tablet interface, not a desktop. Oh yeah, and companies are already scrambling to support html5, so the lack of flash is becoming less important by the day.
There is a good lesson here, which is that even if you have designed an amazing product, it isn’t always best to go out and build it and assume people will ‘get it’ and use it. If you are breaking new ground rather than solving a known pain point or building an online version of an offline solution, then you may need to first bridge the gap with an intermediate product so they will better understand your ultimate idea when you launch it.