I don’t get the iPad, except as a Kindle and Nook killer. It doesn’t seem to me to offer more than a netbook or other tablets. Arguably it offers less, in a more closed and proprietary environment that has some back-end costs to it.
The iPhone felt to me like a hugely different product from its cellphone competitors. If you just compare it to the Kindle, I suppose the iPad is quite different. But the Kindle doesn’t pretend to be an almost-computer, and it doesn’t cost what an almost-computer would.
Now if Apple had concentrated instead on getting the cost of ebooks to where it ought to be, given the vastly lower overhead involved in producing them, that would be different. That was the trick of iTunes that made the iPod significantly different from its competitors at the time that it launched: it got the digital music market right. (Though with some nasty DRM embedded inside of that solution.) I don’t see that here with this product. The pricing and availability of ebooks seems a bit better than with the Kindle, but not dramatically so.
Maybe design aesthetics and reputation will win out again. But about the only thing I can see coming out of this rollout is that other ebook readers are in big trouble.