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More on the iPad: Will It Pop or Flop?

By: 29 January 2010

As promised, here are the “day 2″ thoughts on the fate of the iPad. Obviously, lots of talk about the device this week — whether it’s a viable device, whether it’s a Kindle killer, etc. The former question is more important and the answer is yes.

The User Take

The timing is right as touch screens have assimilated into the mainstream. The “lean back” nature of the device makes it perfect for reading or watching video on the couch; the size makes it suitable for a kitchen device; and the portability + 10-hour battery make it a no brainer for travelers and commuters (there are well-covered technical limitations, but to focus on the big picture … ).

Besides form factor, the 140,000 iPhone apps compatible with the device on day 1, give it an extra boost. This is especially true for iPhone owners who have spent time and money building app libraries. The timing is also right for Apple’s content deals, as newspapers and other industries are hoping for iTunes help, a la music industry.

Will it fit? In other words, can Apple pull off a third device class between laptop and smartphone? I believe yes. We’re too early in mobile device lifespans to discount a device class. The same “in-between device” logic made against the iPad can be used to argue that the smartphone itself lies “in between” a dumb phone and an iPad-like device.

Don’t assume smartphones have “won” yet as a device category. With still relatively low penetration of mobile devices, the market can still adopt form factors on either end that do smartphones’ hybrid functions better (an ongoing debate). Pan back: Again, it’s still early and the market has made few decisive judgments.

The Advertiser Take

The other interesting angle here is advertising. Like user acclimation to mobile, advertiser demand levels have likewise risen for the many reasons we talk about here daily. The iPad gives the growing ecosystem of in-app advertising a boost by increasing usage, traffic and ad coverage — a function of inventory and screen size.

In this light, it makes Apple’s Quattro acquisition that much greater, as we speculated. Quattro will likely be positioned as the preferred ad network that is integrated with the SDK workflow for app developers. Meanwhile other major mobile ad networks have announced support for the iPad app format (same SDK with option for iPad optimization via more pixels).

Apps aside, it also makes mobile Web advertising a bit more interesting. One question is whether this will be mobile advertising, or is it the same ads you see when browsing via laptop? The answer is both: The iPad renders the “real Web” but does so through the mobile Safari Web browser.

This means that it doesn’t read Flash ads (Apple is likely awaiting broader adoption of HTML 5 among other reasons), and that certain ad networks (like Google) differentiate to a certain degree which ads are seen on mobile browsers. So it can be seen as a mobile browsing experience to a certain degree. As such, it will bring more users and inventory to the mobile web.

No One Really Knows Yet

Like the reverberation throughout the tech media and blogosphere over the past 2 days, this is mostly speculation. The market is yet to react, and the device’s true use cases and killer apps are yet to be seen. But judging by the rapid fire rollouts of the iPhone and other past Apple products, you can bet to see a lot more from this device that hasn’t even been mentioned yet.


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2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • Peter Krasilovsky said:

    I like it. I will get the iPad INSTEAD of an iPhone. I’ll park it in the kitchen, and I can get the cheapest one, since I don’t need all the “fun” iPhone apps when I am on the go (I have an iPod classic with tons of storage for all of my music and photos).

    My other smart phone can handle everything else.

    Is this cannibalism? Yes. And my decision doesn’t ultimately help Apple very much (or AT&T). But I agree…Apple will gain on the volume of this thing.

  • Mike Boland (author) said:

    Sounds like a nice fridge magnet. just kidding. Keep in mind you can fire up Skype, Truphone, or Google Voice (web app), and make calls via iPad as you walk around the kitchen and cook (or brew beer).

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