I don’t think this was their plan from the start — I think Apple didn’t know any better than we did, a year ago, whether the iPad was going to end up as a productivity device in practice. They probably thought, like we did, that it would replace laptops a lot more often.I see dozens of iPads in offices daily. They are being used not only as targets or test platforms, but for getting through the daily grind. Many are purchased by employees on their own dime because their companies are still struggling with iPad management. Apple, in describing the iPad, has 4 messages about why the iPad2 is better: "All-new design", "Dual-core A5 chip", "Two cameras", and "iPad Smart Cover". They describe two contexts in which the iPad might be used: "iPad in Business" and "iPad in Education". The headline for business is "A new way to work". The lede for the "Apps for Business" subpage is "Start transforming the way you work".
But, as often happens in technology, the iPad hasn’t “killed” the laptop at all — it has simply added a new role for itself. And that role doesn’t include office productivity for most of us.
I believe the choice of what to develop and release on Apple's part was driven by pragmatism, not by some disdain for the long-term ability of the iPad to excel at office productivity.
It is much, much harder to develop the tablet version of whatever is eventually going to play the role of SAP in the enterprise than it is to build GarageBand. More importantly, it is much easier to demo GarageBand in a minute to the person sitting next to you on the subway, to put it in a 30 second TV spot, or to find a meaningful screenshot to advertise.
Moreover, it is going to take a while for business to reinvent itself in a world of pinching, swiping, and touching. It took ten years for the transition to minis, client-servers, webv1, and webv2. It'll probably take ten for apps, too, but tablets will eventually play a huge role in office productivity. They have to.