For the iPad to become just as good as the iPhone, it would need to be smaller, equipped with a better camera, and sold with carrier subsidies and mobile data plans. But this would turn it into “just a big iPhone.” So this can’t be iPad’s future.
For the iPad to become just as good as the Mac, it would need to be larger, faster, equipped with expansion ports, and powered by software that supports legacy features like windowed applications and an exposed file system. But this would turn the iPad into a Macbook Pro with a touch screen and a detachable keyboard. This can’t be iPad’s future, either.
I think the future of the iPad is for it to disappear, absorbed at the low end by iPhones with large displays and at the high end by Macs running a more iOS-like flavor of OS X. Perhaps it won’t disappear completely. After all, for certain niche uses – especially those listed above – the iPad is great because it’s neither a phone nor a PC. But these are still niche uses and can’t possibly sustain the long, bountiful future that many hope the iPad has.
Jared Sinclair. This sounds right to me. I have found the iPad to be an increasingly frustrating device to use: everything I try to do with it leaves me to some degree unsatisfied. It’s either too big or too small for most tasks, and the tasks it’s the right size for — for example, reading PDFs — it doesn’t handle all that smoothly. (Annotating PDFs can still be enormously frustrating, and I’ve tried every iOS PDF app there is.)