Calle put up a post asking if the iPad is the new campfire. It's an interesting thought. People have always gathered where ever good stories are told, and the iPad certainly is a new delivery mechanism for story telling.
As proof of his observations, I'm sitting in a coffee shop right now where a guy is at a table front and center with a 3G iPad. He's the center of attention for everyone standing in line waiting for their coffees or to place their order. Some (a.k.a. the non-Minnesotans) come ask if they can play with it and ask him how he likes it so far. Others just point and stare and chat with each other; nodding their heads in approval with glowing, wide-open eyes.
To me, this isn't happening because the iPad is becoming the new social storytelling place. It's the newness factor. It's the Apple factor. It's the "I don't know if I really need/could use one of these yet, but I really want one" factor. It's all those and more.
As soon as these wear off though, like most of those in the comments to Calle's post have said, it won't be a campfire itself. We'll have experienced enough of the capabilities and new shiny apps to not vulture over the iPad adorned around us.
I do think people will continue to find new reasons and ways to gather around the iPad though. It just won't be the device that causes the huddling. It will be some of the content.
As others are saying, I believe this device will change our experience of bridging the digital and real world in ways that our smartphones haven't been able to. Especially through the games—the best of which are yet to come.
We hear plenty of people talking about applying game theory to marketing through social and mobile. This device will take that to a new place. We'll be able to create new ways of engaging with each other in the same location through the combination of things like the iPad and the iPhone.
I also believe this will change gaming in a way that hasn't happened yet. It has the potential to bring new people into gaming, similar to how the Wii did. The opportunities for location-based social games on the iPad are bigger than anything we've been able to bring to life to date. When you combine that with its ability to connect to the iPhone and WiFi/3G, a new level of social and casual gaming take shape.
Not too far down the road, stuff like Roku's Reward will start to become more of a reality when a camera gets added. And maybe, just maybe, we'll see MMORPGs turn into MMR(eal)W(orld)RPGs (and I'm not talking about those that already go on at your local renaissance festival). Or maybe not.
Anyway, all this to say that while there were many who harpooned the iPad upon its launch announcement, sales and people's behaviors are showing and will continue to show that this device just might have a chance of finding space between (and connecting to) our televisions, laptops and mobile phones.