Apple iPad is not a Kindle killer. It's a netbook killer, and here is why.....
This Christmas season I spent hours reviewing the Kindle, the Sony Reader, the B&N nook, and a few other e-Readers. My purpose was not to write yet another comparison entry for our readers to gloss over for keywords (I discovered plenty of blog entries on the internet that covered this topic almost ad nauseum) but instead it was a more personal review for a target audience of one, my mother. Since this is not an article about that search, I will spare you the suspense and tell you we bought her a Sony Reader Touch edition (there is poor 3G coverage in her area). The following month I found myself pouring over various netbooks for yet another targeted audience, my father in-law. Again, I will spare you the details, we bought the Dell mini 10 from their outlet web site.
These two experiences in tech evaluation have come back in an important way this week while reading and watching the Apple iPad announcements, reviews, and commentary. Sometimes it seems that the lead-in to a big product announcement creates a speculation tsunami that makes it almost impossible for the actual release to be viewed with any sense of innovative thought. I am not saying this to set up this articles conclusion as some revelation in thought but rather to emphasize how little variance there really is throughout the "blogosphere" and other media outlets combined. So to cut to the chase, I would like to propose that the general perception is wrong. The iPad will not be killing the Kindle or taking over the entirety of the eReader market, not as its first victim anyway.
iTouch, therefore iPad
The iPad, in its cheapest form, is a large iTouch as it has WiFi but no 3G or 4G radio. It is essentially the Apple netbook that so many pundits have been clamoring for over the last 12+ months. Anecdotally, I have spoken to many laptop users who would like nothing more than to give up their clunky laptop and do everything on their iPhone or iTouch. This is exactly what the iPad will enable users to do.
We already know that email and web browsing will be very accomplished and the only limitation will be the lack of Adobe Flash support. This is something I think Apple will need to resolve if it ever hopes to capture large sections of the corporate or education market. It will also be vital as Google encroaches on the iPhone market share with Android phones since the main venue for playing videos on the Apple platforms is currently the Google YouTube application. If you couple the existing features of the Apple platforms with the newest abilities in general word processing (Apple added a version of iWork to the iPad release) there is little left that my mom, father-in-law, or even my CEO would find lacking in the device for day-to-day use.
surf's up! duuuude
Most of the general users and hopeful users of netbooks express their requirements in the exact same way. "I just want something to surf the web, do email, and maybe watch a movie on a plane and I don't want to spend a ton of money." The iPad fulfills each and every one of these requirements, and then some (as almost everything is now a function of surfing, even email). But that still leaves open the door to performance. Can the iPad outperform a netbook for the same amount of money? This article on CNET that details the A4 processor merits in the iPad versus other competing ARM chips helps explain how Apple can maintain a sustained competitive advantage. Even so, there is still the perception that the limitation of single-tasking from the iPad will somehow reduce the user base and help netbooks fend off any serious iPad assault.
I would counter that this mis-evaluation comes from techie geeks (such as me) who are so pumped full of espresso or Mountain Dew that we feel the need to have 5 apps open at the same time. In general (and that word is important when your talking about market share in the consumer world) users are not looking to have that much going on. In fact, even if they feel that multi-tasking is a must have feature they will be sorely disappointed in the multi-tasking performance of your average Windows powered netbook. There are other limitations that are more important to the general user than the ability to multi-task. Camera, memory stick and USB support are three that jump to mind but even those items can be added or sidestepped via bluetooth solutions or WiFi (have you seen Eye-Fi?)
it's so easy, even a caveman......well, you know (copyright avoidance)
We have already seen instances where corporate IT will be pestered and hampered by not providing their users with the same functionality they can get on their own at home. Major corporations such as Cisco have already acquiesced to allowing Mac laptops into the enterprise. Many corporations are no longer buying the mobile devices for users but instead are simply reimbursing a set dollar amount for mobile packages. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are increasingly going un-blocked by corporate firewalls due to content necessity and by the simple competitive fact that new hires find it inconceivable that these services do not exist in the workplace. The same will occur with the iPad (forgive the obvious prognostication). New hires will find it antiquated to move off their iPad from college to the bulky, boorish, and constrained confines of their "new" corporate laptop.
follow the money.....
April 6, 2010I wanted to cross reference this post with the following article from CNET, in case anyone is tracking this entry.
Display Search has a diminishing year over year growth projection for Netbook sales. Very interesting.
Also, at the end of this interview by Charlie Rose, with Walt Mossberg of the WSJ, Walt projects Netbooks to be a fad.
April 5, 2010Ollie RoseberryI love my new Kindle. We travel all over the world for long periods of time and it is impossible to bring all of the books I enjoy reading since the airlines charges so much for additional baggage. I find it easy to use, easy to purchase and love when I'm standing in an airport and see the newest releases, that I can search on my kindle and usually for under $10 I have the book loaded in about 2 seconds. I would definately highly recommend this item to all who love to read and do a lot of traveling!
March 4, 2010Well I did start this earlier and got the same response, but the information submitted here looks more informative. I will say that people really are trying to help at there best and we always get to know some or the other thing good from each other. Thank you for starting the discussion again. And I will also post the earlier information here to make it more helpful for all. Thanks again and keep up the good work.
February 17, 2010Thanks Brittni. I'm already seeing some validation for my theory. The Economist had an article the same week that dedicated a section on how Netbooks could suffer from an iPad release. The irony came when I read the article the Monday following my post. Had I been keeping up to date with my Economist subscription reading, I could have included the information.
Another tidbit came from the Health Care forums on LinkedIn. I have seen several EMR/EHR providers begin touting "iPad Support to come" for medical record software. The drawback is that many of those same vendors need to catchup on the technology of thin clients and SaaS (true Saas) before they can capitalize on an Apple solution. Many of these vendors still consider an RDP session to a Windows 2k desktop as "state of the art". I would like to see my PT with an iPad like device someday soon. He could view my MRI right there with me and even pull up video showing me how to do rehab exercises.
February 17, 2010I hardly ever leave comments on blogs, but your post called on me to applaud your blog. Thank you for writing this, I'll bookmark your site and check in occasionally. Cheers.
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