Apple's announcement of its iPad tablet computer was the anti-climax of the decade. Weeks of hype drained the event of any sense of excitement.
For me, the biggest mystery is how the iPad can live up to expectations that it will rescue the world's newspaper publishers from oblivion. The New York Times has created an app for the device, in the hope that the cavalry has arrived. But the problem facing traditional media groups is that circulation and advertising revenues are in sharp decline. At the same time, consumers are unwilling to pay for online content after growing used to getting it for free. It seems perverse logic to suggest that the answer to consumers' refusal to pay for content is to tell them to spend £500 on an extra computer plus a subscription for online material.
The iPad looks gorgeous, but I'm far from convinced that there is a sizeable market for it. Apple fans point to the Cupertino company's success in seizing the MP3 and mobile phone sectors. But these were well established and popular markets. The tablet has existed for a decade or more without moving beyond a niche. There are good reasons for this. It's too big to become a constant companion, but not big or capable enough to become a workhorse, like a laptop.
I can't help wondering also whether the brilliance of the iPhone might actually hinder rather than help the chances of the iPad. Apart from size, what extra does the iPad offer? Why should I pay an extra monthly bill from O2 or Vodafone for 3G data when I'm already paying them for the iPhone? And when I travel for work, I can't see myself packing an iPad as well as a laptop and the iPhone.
What about e-books? Again, it seems unlikely that the iPad will persuade huge numbers of people to give up printed books for electronic versions. The printed book retains a huge advantage. It's portable, robust and attractive. I can read it in the bath or an a plane that's taking off. It's easy to flick to the photo section or index in seconds. And few things match the pleasure of picking up an old favourite on the bookshelf. Oh, and after a day staring at a computer screen, a book is a soothing companion at bedtime.
No one should underestimate Apple's ability to create demand for its gorgeous products. But the iPad is its biggest challenge yet. It still strikes me as a solution in search of a problem.