So the wait is over! After what seems like years of speculation, the “Apple tablet” is finally here. Much has been written over the last few hours about Apple’s new “iPad”. Leaving aside the obvious comments about the terrible name (this Mad TV sketch is what we are all thinking, admit it), who is actually going to buy an iPad?

There is no denying that Apple has invented some revolutionary products throughout the years. The Macintosh computer helped make graphical user interfaces the standard, the iPod kick-started the MP3 media player market, and even the most hardened Apple protester must admit, the iPhone was a huge game changer in the mobile market.

So where does the iPad fit into this? Too large and chunky to be a portable device, too slow to be a laptop replacement. The iPad seems to be an attempt to fill a gap in the market that is perceived to be much larger than it actually is.

Tablet computers are nothing new. In fact, just the other day I was watching an old episode of the “Computer Chronicles” which predicted 1996 to be the “year of the tablet”, and we all remember Apple’s last foray into this market…

The Apple “Newton” was an interesting device, falling somewhere between the PDA and tablet market. Newton had some interesting features, but commercially was a flop. In the 9 years Apple tried to market the device, sales were poor and they just couldn’t make it work. The simple fact was nobody needed a Newton.

So here we are in 2010, and the iPad seems to be aiming at a similar market, not sitting in the PDA/Smartphone arena, yet falling short of their laptop computers on specifications and power.  One area Jobs promoted is the new iBook store, but even with a sharp IPS LCD screen, it’s not going to be as easy on the eyes as the “e-paper” in a device such as the Kindle.

The reception at the keynote also seemed to be weak compared to previous Apple devices. Just watching the iPhone launch, then comparing it to today’s event – the needle on the “applause-o-meter” is barely wiggling.

While there are the usual Apple fans who will buy anything the company releases, what niche does this device fill for the rest of us? Now that you’ve seen it, will you be buying an iPad?