Now don't get me wrong. The ipad (and the other tablets which will be out soon) would be great for a student or someone who travels a lot. A student could take notes in university classes on the ipad's virtual keyboard as well as use it to go online, listen to music, download movies etc. But unless you are using it while traveling or using it as a student I just don't see the any advantages to the ipad over a laptop except portability. I can go out a buy a decent laptop for 600 dollars or so and it will do quite a bit more than an ipad. As far as I can see, the only thing that is actually keeping Apple going is itunes. People, including me, are buying ipods largely because of itunes. If it were not for itunes I would have purchased a less expensive sony mp3 player. But this advantage cannot be maintained forever. And since I can purchase a laptop for about half of what an ibook costs, I don't see how Apple will emerge from a small niche market. In the absence of some tech breakthrough I don't see any long term success for apple because these smaller devices will surely be outmoded by other companies and when someone creates a truly universal itunes type of store ipods will loose their present advantage.
Meanwhile e-readers are coming up fast and at the moment Apple has no stake in the non-back-lit market. I say leave the ipad to the students and the business travelers and wait for the next real breakthrough.