When tablets first showed up, they were met with head-scratching, furrowed brows, the chirping of crickets. The form factor just didn't click, the software wasn't right. The earliest tablets ended up being the pet rocks of the digital age.
But Apple turned everything around with the introduction of the first iPad, a success born equally of a smart design centered around a touchscreen, a operating system built to best utilize its unique characteristics, and a content portal to fill it with a wide range of inexpensive software (OK, and lots of savvy marketing).
Now, the tablet has truly came of age. We have several competing mobile operating systems, a wealth of apps, and long lists of successes and failures. And with every stumble, a lesson learned — not just by the companies making these devices, but by us, the buying public, who continue to ask what purpose tablets serve, what holes they fill in our lives, and the type of world they're leading us toward.
Photo by Jim Merithew/Wired