iPad Could Threaten Sales of Other Devices
The Apple iPad is official, and consumers now have to decide whether they want to buy an iPad or another device that does things a little differently. That’s exactly the kind of dilemma Apple wanted to create with the iPad.
The company specifically tried to make it attractive by including features traditionally tied to multiple devices, all within a sleek and thin form factor. The Apple iPad has a larger screen than a smartphone, and better productivity software; but it's even more portable than a laptop and has a simpler interface.
So the question arises, "What other devices are threatened by the announcement of the Apple iPad?"
In his address at the unveiling of the Apple iPad, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made it very clear what the company thought of the netbooks flooding the PC market. Mentioning rumors about what product Apple would produce next, Jobs said, "Now some people thought that was a netbook. The problem is that netbooks aren't better than anything. We think we've got something that is better. And we call it the iPad."
The iPad is intended to fill the same role that netbooks do: browsing the Web on a device smaller than a laptop. The iPad will do that well, and the addition of the iWork suite of productivity tools helps the device compete with netbooks too.
However, there is still one major issue: price. One of the biggest reasons consumers buy netbooks is the cheaper price, even though they lose a little bit in functionality. The iPad is also less functional than a laptop, yet it still costs as much as a full laptop. That fact alone could mean netbooks won't be hurt much by the iPad.
E-reader manufacturers should be the most concerned about the iPad. E-readers are specialized devices that only perform one task: reading books. The iPad, as well as a number of smartphones and computers, are now capable of displaying electronic books, or e-books, making a device that only reads e-books a less attractive option.
Amazon, maker of the Kindle e-book reader, knows this and has released e-reader apps for the iPhone and other smartphones as well as PCs. Consumers don’t care as much about a special e-ink screen to read on if they can just read their books on a device they already own. That's why the iPad and similar devices will continue to be the biggest threat to e-readers.
While the iPad obviously has a lot of the same functionality as the iPhone, it won't be a threat to smartphone sales for one significant reason: It can't make calls. It's possible that some people will want to buy the iPad and stick with a simple phone to make calls, but that decision seems illogical when a smartphone gives similar functionality and the ability to make calls in a much smaller device that costs as much or even less than the iPad.
Personal media players (PMPs), like the iPod Nano, gained popularity as a way to carry music, video and pictures in a small package. They rose to popularity as companies started putting video-capable screens in MP3 players, making them full media devices. However, PMPs have been declining in popularity and will continue to do so because video and music playing features are in so many other devices, such as phones. While the iPad might threaten PMP sales, the entire category of devices is threatened far more by other portable devices.
There is a long list of tablets slated (pun intended) to come out this year. While some were already announced before the iPad, they will all have to worry about the standard Apple has set in consumer minds. Apple has consistently led the industry when it comes to touchscreen innovation. The iPad has an elegant design that makes most other tablets look clunky and it can also capitalize on the 140,000 apps already available for the iPhone.
However, there are two ways in which tablet makers can fight back: functionality and price. While the iPad can do a lot, it also has a few setbacks. It can't multitask like any other computer, it doesn't have expandable storage and it won't display Flash, a type of software that powers 70 percent of games and 75 percent of video on the Web, according to Flash-maker Adobe.
If other tablet manufacturers can keep their prices lower than the iPad and offer more features the iPad is missing , they will still be able to compete against Apple's wonder device.