There is a long and noble tradition in the UK whereby bookmakers, presumably bored of laying odds for the 3.30 at Kempton, succumb to attacks of whimsy and engage in the far more interesting task of assessing (amongst other things) whether it is likely to snow on Christmas morning; whether aliens will visit us at some point in the next year; which actor will be the next Doctor Who; which celebrity will win whichever tedious reality show is the flavour of the month.
And the British public responds in kind by placing large amounts of money on said bets. And everybody is happy, particularly the bookmakers, except when its snows in London on Christmas day.
Well, then. I can now announce that we have finally, definitively, entered a high-tech age, an age where gadgetry is supreme. This is because Paddy Power, God bless ‘em, responded to the veil of secrecy that had been cast over the launch of Apple’s new product by opening a book on the name of said product. As I type these words, we’re still four minutes from the grand announcement, so I could – if I was that way inclined, plump for iTablet (1/2 fav), iPad or iSlate (both 3/1), iBook (12/1) or, moving down the field, place my money on outsiders like The Microsoftner and Googlebuster (both 100/1) or – a blast from the past – EtchaSketch (500/1).
One minute now…
OK, it’s three minutes past six now… here’s Steve Jobs… lots of numbers, yes three billion apps downloaded, we heard that the other day…
And over to Steve:
“All of us use laptops and smartphones now. Everybody uses a laptop and/or a smartphone. Is there room for a third device in the middle?"”
But what’s it called Steve, what’s it called?
IPAD!! Ooh, iPad. The second favourite wins it at 1011 PST.
OK, now the nomenclature has been sorted out – what’s it for?
“Browsing the web . Do(ing) email. Enjoying and sharing pics. Playing games. Reading ebooks… It’s so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smartphone with this gorgeous, large display.”
Thanks, Steve. But – what’s it like?
Well, it’s slim – less than half an inch thich - with a ten inch screen, a 1GHz processor, 10 hours of battery life, and built-in iTunes.
It looks sleek, elegant and streamlined, and the apps that Steve Jobs et al demonstrated during the presentation were of high quality. But the answer to the question that Steve posed above – “Is there room for a third device in the middle” is what will decide whether the iPad sinks or swims. Now that betting on the name has closed, perhaps Paddy Power should open a book on that one?
I am not a betting man. But if I were, then my instincts would tell me to put my money on the iPad. Because, you see, it’s from a stable that has produced a lot of winners; and pedigree counts for a lot in this business.
Just one downside.
They should have called it EtchaSketch. Sure, there'd have been copyright issues, but, you know, nostalgia and all that...