Editor's note: Pete Cashmore is founder and CEO of Mashable, a popular blog about social media. He writes a weekly column about social networking and tech for CNN.com.
(CNN) -- Less than a year ago, some technology pundits questioned whether Apple's "iTablet" would find any buyers.
Fast-forward to the end of 2010, and the iPad is a smash hit. eMarketer predicts that Apple will sell 13.3 million iPads this year, and one survey ranked the iPad as the most-wanted gift this holiday season.
But the iPad has reshaped more than just the device market: From publishing to web design, we're seeing the iPad change the world in unexpected ways.
1. Pushing Apple over the top: It's no secret that the iPad has accelerated Apple's rise to the top. In May, the month after the iPad's release, Apple became the world's biggest tech company.
Apple, which had seemed perpetually in Microsoft's shadow, had outrun the Redmond giant.
2. A new device category: The iPad has also reignited interest in what seemed to be a dormant market for tablet computers.
Apple's competitors have raced to enter the market, with notable competition coming from the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Even so, Apple will retain the lion's share of the tablet market, eMarketer predicts.
3. Publishing renaissance: Whether the iPad can truly be print publishing's savior remains to be seen, but the device has certainly sparked the rebirth of seemingly stagnant magazines and newspapers.
Wired's iPad app generated a storm of publicity for bringing the tactile nature of print to the digital realm, while groundbreaking applications like Flipboard are combining the social aspects of the web with the truly engaging experience of holding a newspaper.
What's more, the iPad has enabled publishers to once again charge for content -- although it remains to be seen whether this trend persists as more content options become available on the iPad.
4. Reshaping web design: Put this one down to the laws of unintended consequences: The iPad is actually changing the way websites are designed, writes Mashable's Christina Warren.
A growing number of companies have found that their iPad apps offer better usability than their websites, and so the latter are being molded to match the former. Most notable among these iPad-inspired interfaces: Twitter's recent redesign borrowed heavily from the company's iPad app.
5. App store victorious: For better or worse, the iPad has cemented the app store model as the preeminent way to access applications and content on a mobile device.
The iPad is not a web-centric device but rather an app-centric one. Although specialized applications are obviously beneficial on tiny iPhone screens with slow connections, it wasn't a forgone conclusion that the same model would apply to a device with a larger screen that's used mainly on Wi-Fi networks.
After all, wouldn't consumers rather access free websites than pay for the same content via an app? And yet consumers have spoken: For now, apps are at the center of the mobile experience.