When the iPad came out it generated the usual but always amazing amount of press. Even before its release this device was keeping the press and bloggers busy talking. When out, reviews were mixed, some people loved it, others failed to see any point in a device of this kind. Now, few months into the decade of the tablets, we are seeing how the iPad effect is playing out. The iPad is already starting to disrupt the laptop market. Even corporations are buying iPads. And we have not even seen the impact of the low cost clones yet.
Apple is selling a lot of iPads. In the first 80 days the firm sold 3 million units which is more than any other product in the same time. Two points I want to make about this. First, the iPad is a cool device. It can even make people look cool with it (but that might be temporary as it is new and not so common yet). Second, and more importantly, it is actually a useful device. One point that I made in my report on the iPad Effect is that the iPad is a consumer device. When I want to browse the web for news or look up something, I grab the iPad, turn it on, slide and I’m there. If I would turn on my Windows 7 Dell laptop I’m lucky with 5-6 minutes. My MacBook Pro is a little faster. Neither of them match the iPad.
The iPad is a disrupting technology. According to an RMR report (discussed at PadGadget) 49% of iPad owners said they don’t need to buy an e-reader since they have the iPad. Similarly, 38% would not consider buying a potable game device, and 32% say they don’t need a laptop or netbook. If this is any indication, iPad is surely disrupting other devices.
We are seeing history repeat itself. As with the first PCs many years ago, reviews were mixed. Low-cost, low performance and simple device. Now we are seeing the iPad disrupting laptop sales. The Silicon Allay Insider reports that the iPad is starting to invade the corporate market. Companies are buying iPads. And this is making some people sweat. SAI lists some reasons. Apple has made the iPad corporate friendly with good Exchange integration and security, it is easy to carry to meetings and showrooms, it is cheaper than laptops. I would like to add the importance of the cloud also. As more and more of data is stored on Internet servers accessible using a browser or an app, adopting a device like iPad poses no limits.
The interesting thing is that the iPad is only the first player in this new market. The iPad could be the high-end. We are seeing an avalanche of new, cheaper devices coming. It is likely that Android will be a big player in the tablet market just as the Google OS is gaining smartphone shares. Quick research shows that Samsung, LG, Velocity, and more, are coming out with tablets this fall. The race to the tablet market has begun.
Looking at this development from the perspective of technology trends, we are seeing a new era in the history of computing. The “device in the middle” is getting adopted by the market. Something between a portable computer and a smart phone, a handy device for simple browsing and playing.