It’s a device for cities.
It’s not that it couldn’t be used in rural environments of course; just that it wouldn’t be. The general lack of third spaces in such places means that a phone and a PC are sufficient. By living in cities, in other peoples’ places, a different kind of device becomes appropriate. Something light and small enough to fit in a handbag or satchel, yet powerful and productive nonetheless. In the old view of city living – say, the classic Parisian apartment – the small size of dwelling meant that the bistro downstairs at the street level of the block becomes the dining room, the bar/coffee shop becomes the living room, the shared courtyard becomes the garden, and so on. While this vision is hopelessly romantic, there are numerous urban variants on this kind of living, and these transient (yet personal) spaces are where the iPad will fit right in. (Again, exurban environments clearly have coffee shops too, but they are not part of a integrated system of living in the same way. And so different tools will suffice.)
As software becomes a service, data resides in the cloud, various forms of wireless connectivity coalesce over the city, and yet face-to-face physical connection becomes more important than ever, a device like the iPad becomes obvious. The cloud is the connective tissue between these spaces, the software provides the platform for interaction with information, the tablet is the tool, and the forum is the city.