Not a good laptop, but a good appliance
I think Jeff Shortland is on the right track and I would bet that the iPad, despite the name, will sell well. I can already see buying or facilitating the buy of at least three; for my mother, grandmother, and daughter.
It seems to me that the iPad is being bashed mainly for being such a poor laptop replacement. Sure, it's not the super computer sheet of glass from the usual sci-fi flicks. However it isn't meant for that. It is a simple, easy to support (IT support I mean), appliance for web browsing, small apps, and media. For the semi- or non- computer savvy people in your life...or those whose *current* computing needs do not require a full laptop the iPad is perfect.
e.g.: my mother is semi-computer savvy. Yes, she can use a laptop but only if everything is already arranged and if, once she has learned it, nothing changes. She is a medical professional with a lifetime of skill in medicine and patient care (US private system) and little time or interest in computers themselves. However she does need to use email, loves to see pictures of her kids and grandkids, and would find researching via the web a real treat if she could get past the ancient computers that work provides her. An iPad would be brilliant for her. Great Christmas or birthday gift.
e.g.: my grandmother hasn't the faintest clue about computers ("that's nice dear") chases mice with her broom, and makes a nice pot of tea but lives nowhere near us. I do not know but I suspect that she could operate an iPad (the interface is straightforward enough) if I set it up for her. That way I could push regular pictures of her great-grandkids to her and keep in touch.
e.g.: my daughter, the inquisitive three yo. She likes to 'help me work' on the laptop (Mac Air), which is entertaining enough, but really would be better served with an introductory platform onto which I could put reading/math/language applications for fun and learning. Today the options are a raft of single age-range gadgets like the LeapPad that want replacing every six months as she grows. The iPad would last at least a couple of years, probably 3-4, since I (and eventually she) could keep loading age-appropriate apps.
So…I think this new Apple appliance has legs; just not for laptop replacement.