Posted by: Craig Mathias
Apple, iPad, notebook PC, tablet PC
As I write this (yesterday, on the first day of April, and no, this is not an April Fool’s column!), I’m sitting here amazed at all the coverage the iPad is getting. There are stories on all of the news and business TV channels, it’s on the covers of major magazines, and it’s getting serious exposure on blogs and other online media outlets. Think about the last time a consumer electronics product got this much drool-laden coverage (hint: another Apple product, a handset). Two thoughts come to mind here. First, this is probably the first tablet computer in history that really has a chance at major-league success. It’s not too expensive, it’s based on proven technology, it’s part of a family that gives it instant access to lots and lots of software and applications, it’s well-designed, it’s cute, it’s fun, and it’s from Apple, which is thought number two. If there were a Nobel Prize in Marketing, it would go to Apple. These guys are simply flat-out amazing. But part of the marketing success is simply due to our own expectations: we are pre-disposed to Apple’s success. Such is practically cultural now. If Apple does it, it must be good, and most often (but not always) it is.
Now, I personally take issue with the closed-system nature of Apple’s non-Mac products, and Apple’s tight control over the use of their products. I can’t imagine that it’s even legal that they restrict access to applications. But, hey, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but there’s obviously enough to like that Apple will have no trouble meeting their expectations for iPad sales. And I don’t think there will be a single competitor that will provide a real challenge to Apple in this space. But, then, just how big is the tablet space, anyway?
Pretty big, actually, as we’re talking consumer electronics here as opposed to the computer market alone, and the price of the iPad is right to capture a lot of it. And some analysts have even become so enamored with the iPad (think even more drool) that they’re saying that this device will replace e-readers, like Amazon’s Kindle, and then proceed to render the very notebook PC obsolete! Come on – this is just plain silly, the ravings of adolescents suffering from their first encounter with puppy love. The notebook will be around for a very long time, well past the foreseeable future. The notebook’s integral physical keyboard is key (so to speak) – any serious typing on the iPad will require Apple’s optional physical keyboard, thereby creating a two-body solution that’s clumsy to transport. The familiar clamshell design of the notebook is its major selling point. Tablets are better in some applications, but not all, and will likely not be mainstream in business computer for, well, ever.
Like its little brother, the iPod Touch, the iPad is fun device. Get one for fun. I will. You might even get a little business done on it, but just a little. You’ll still reach for the notebook when there’s work to be done.