Ironically, the iPad makes the iPhone -- Apple's
Think about it: The iPad does all the neat stuff of the iPhone (OK, except for the camera), and it does so with a big screen that allows even richer applications and more compelling media experiences. It also works as a laptop replacement for the kind of basic work we do most of the time when we're on the road: working with email, Web pages, and Web forms; creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; catching up on our reading; and handling work tasks like order entry that today's iPhone apps only hint at.
The iPhone is a bad phone and a brilliant but now-old-school media device
The iPad doesn't make or receive calls. So what? Face it: As cool as it is to use an iPhone to surf the Web, check e-mail, play games, and run apps, it'll be cooler and more productive on an iPad. And since everyone seems to hate AT&T's phone coverage (it's always sucked in San Francisco, where I live, years before AT&T began blaming the iPhone users for its inadequate network) and have been frustrated with the iPhone's own phone-calling flaws -- everyone will be able to have their cake and eat it too: reliable phone service from someone else, and compelling data services over Wi-Fi and maybe one day even over AT&T's 3G network on the iPad.
So you'll gravitate very quickly away from the iPhone's once-groundbreaking capabilities and do them on your iPad. That turns your iPhone into just a phone -- but you won't pay AT&T $30 per month for that soon-to-be-occasional usage once you're paying $15 or $30 per month for 3G connectivity for your iPad.
I suspect most iPhone users won't renew their current data service plans with AT&T when they expire. They will instead get a cheap, reliable regular phone -- and won't miss the iPhone. The good news: That iPhone then becomes an iPod Touch with a camera, probably taking the place of one of your iPods. After all, there are some occasions when the smaller form factor is handy, such as on a crowded train or bus, for a quick check of your tip calculation at a restaurant, or checking your grocery list at the store. And if you have an iPod Touch, you'll likely keep using it as an uber-iPod supplement to your iPad -- and be relieved it was a lot cheaper than an iPhone would have been.
You may think I'm nuts to expect such a dramatic change in the iPhone's position. But I'm serious. It was only three years ago that the iPhone up-ended the mobile market, making once-vaunted devices like the BlackBerry suddenly look like creaky old DOS systems.
Why there's no longer a need for the mobile Web
But consider how quickly the iPhone changed the paradigm for the Web and for smartphones. I believe the iPad will have just as dramatic and short-term effects.