There have been tablets before the iPad. They weren't as beautiful or well crafted, but that wasn't why we chose not to pick them up. It was the software.
To call the iPad a big iPhone is both truth and disservice, belying the simple fact that changing the screen size really does change everything. It's more than the difference between standard def and HD, between 5 1/4-inch action figures and 10-inch scale, between vegan facon and real pork belly. When you open Scrabble for the first time, and the entire board's splayed in front of you, or holding the screen aloft, steering your plane in Plane X so it doesn't crash into the ground, it physically soaks up enough of your viewing field you can actually become absorbed. Like Jesus says in his breakdown of the hardware, "The iPad functional objective was to make the product as invisible as possible, a simple, elegant stage for the real important actors: The applications."