Happy Anniversary, iPad!

One year ago, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to the world, triggering a seismic shift in mobile computing. The impact was as unforeseen as it was big. With nearly 15 million iPads sold, Apple outstripped analysts’ average predictions by a factor of 5X. In just one quarter, the iPad helped boost sales of media tablets by 45%, and the iPad alone now accounts for 90% of the market.

The iPad’s impact on content production and distribution has been no less significant. As Apple’s iTunes store upended the music industry model, the iPad has forced print, Web, video and game companies to reconsider their businesses and step up to a whole new expectation for their users’ experience, interactivity and relationship with the content they provide. With the iPad, Apple continued to reign as the king of marketplace disruption.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, I was among the earliest adopters of the iPad, and I still consider it swoonworthy. It lives up to the hype, for the whole host of paradigm-altering reasons alluded to above. And it’s hard not to love its sleek design, beautiful screen, 10-hour battery life and ease of use.

But, even for this Mac devotee, the iPad is not without its shortcomings. The truth is, I find it a bit of a luxurious gap device. For productivity, I’d take my laptop (yes, a Macbook Pro) any day. For portability, my mobile device (you guessed it, an iPhone) wins hands down. For movies and TV shows, I’d opt for Apple TV (or just plain TV, for that matter). And as an e-reader, I find Amazon‘s Kindle to be far more ergonomic and easier on the eyes.

On a humorous note, who can forget the uproar over the name? The term “iTampon” was one of the highest trending topics on Twitter in the wake of last year’s announcement, and Annie Colbert mocked the Cupertino crew by asking, “Do any women work at Apple?” on the Holy Kaw blog. Colbert also notes that MadTV beat them all to the punch by mocking Apple’s little “i” approach in this classic video from 2007 that was actually aimed at the iPod.

All kidding aside, the iPad is nothing short of a consumer electronics superstar. It’s forcing the convergence of video, audio, text, and Web; it’s changing the face of content; it’s altering the media model; and it’s making the Web more interactive, intimate, social, and mobile.

Hats off to Apple for a tremendous first year. I can’t wait to see what’s in store with version 2.0.

“iPad, therefore I am.”