There were tablets before the iPad, but none of them really made anything more than a splash in the market. Since then, Apple has sold millions of the things and completely dominated the space. Efforts to erode its market share meanwhile have mainly been undertaken using products that look remarkably like the iPad: flat rectangles.
Sure, some of them were a bit smaller, but it only seems very recently that the big manufacturers have taken a look at the iPad and realised what the peripheral industry has known for a long time: the iPad’s design is not without flaws.
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