How big will the iPad market become?
by phil on Tuesday Apr 13, 2010 8:13 PM
It's interesting that the iPad is one of my favorite gadgets of all time, and yet I'm skeptical about its success. Take, for example, laptop-replacement. Before the iPad, I was waiting with bated breath for new Macbook Pro announcements. I'm not anymore. Instead, I'm looking forward to my PC becoming obsolete so I have an excuse to buy a nice 27'' iMac. Then I'll ditch my PC and my Macbook Pro, and just have an iMac, iPad, and (hopefully Verizon-based) iPhone. Because I'm envisioning such a total transformation of my digital life, you'd think I'd be bullish on Apple.
It's a matter of whether you want to compare iPad's future to the Macbook line or the iPhone line. If you compare it to the iPhone, then it makes sense. Students beg their parents, "Please please, buy me an iPhone," which is code for, "Please don't give me a lamePhone." But students don't similarly beg for Macbook Pros. Students simply tell their parents, "I need a laptop for school," and parents then figure out what's the most powerful computer for the cheapest amount of money.
The appeal of the iPad to me is in how well it over-delivers on various slices of digital computing experiences. Unfortunately, the average consumer doesn't notice or appropriately value that. For example, I love how my iPad allows me to work in every room of the Mutual Mobile offices, all in one day. But that's something special and unique that I treasure, while most people are just happy to have good computing power. "My laptop's portable, why do I need an iPad?"
I think nobody can predict how the market will play out, and a lot depends on Apple's execution (and Google's counter-execution). In other words, it's too early to say that this is going to all-of-a-sudden change the way everybody computes. I still stand by the prediction, that this will be the most requested gift this Christmas. But I'm not sure how much of a takeover that represents for Apple.