I think both those early posts nailed the iPad, Apple’s strategy, and the emerging market spaces pretty squarely on the head. The only clear miss was this:
The first versions of unique hardware designs tend to be imperfect and get old fast. Such was the case with the first iPods and iPhones, and will surely be the case with the first iPads as well. The ones being introduced next week will seem antique one year from now.
I ended up getting one of those original ones (with 64Gb of RAM and a 3G data connection), and it ain’t old yet. In fact it’s been a workhorse for our family, most recently serving (among other things) as an excellent offline GPS while we drove around Italy. While I won’t go so far as to say we’ve come to depend on it, our iPad has proven very handy, in many ways that smartphones and PCs are not. (One example.)
In fact its level of market success seems to be rising from remarkable to scary.
Today Bob Evans in Forbes detailed that scariness with Apple iPad Unleashing Creative Destruction On PC Industry. He unpacks five factors involved:
- Cannibalization’s Diminishing Returns: while the iPad snacks on Macs, it lives on a non-stop diet of PCs
- Pilot to Penetration: after a year of playing footsie with enterprise customers, Apple’s getting serious
- Unexpected Applications: corporate customers are deploying iPads in totally unprecedented ways
- The Apple-Store Phenomenon: over the past five years, can any retail chain on Earth match Apple’s astonishing financial success?
- Hooking the Kids: the iPad has been a blowout success in the K-12 market.
To those I’ll add one more: soaking up functions as well as apps from both the Web and PCs.
Case in point: weather. We have nine weather apps on our iPad, and we use them all. One that’s especially fun in the Summer is LightningFinder. Last Saturday morning the kid and I sat on our front porch, enjoying a brief morning thunderstorm, along with the iPad and LightningFinder, which told us exactly where the lightning we saw actually happened. It was cool. Today the iPad was elsewhere during a brief thunderstorm, so I went online to the LightningFinder site, thinking “Hey, they must show the same maps online.” But they don’t. They do have weather maps, and will give you a forecast; but if you want to see the lightnng stuff, you gotta get the app. Here’s the main graphic on their index page:
Two points here. One is that Apple has created a very lively marklet for apps in countless niches. The other is that the iPad has become the primary platform for many of those applications, while the PC has become the secondary one — or worse, a place for promotional messages about iPad apps.
I still see a bigger market in other tablets over the long run, for the simple reason that the horizontal marketplace for any kind of tablet (especially Androids) has no limits, while Apple’s silo’d vertical market can only be as large as Apple lets it be. And, as long as Apple controls that market, those limits are finite. Even if they are, for now, impressively high.
I also don’t think PCs will go away. They’ll just do less of what ‘pads and phones do better.