Thursday, January 28, 2010

How the iPad could be a Game Changer

Doing some poking around today and this evening on the iPad, and the vibe I'm getting is ho-hum. Gadget enthusiasts are somewhat disappointed on the lack of some features (sd card, camera) but investors are enthused over the $499 entry price. Obviously the Apple designers had to make some tough calls on what hardware features they had to include given constraints on cost, physical size, and battery life.

But the overwhelming vibe I'm getting is that the iPad is just a larger version of the iPhone. Interesting, but not a game changer. Do I want to pay for and then carry the larger size iPad if I get all the same apps on my iPhone especially if I still need a laptop with keyboard to do my work? CruchGear's take; "It's a big iPod", "As a developer, I’m excited about it. As a consumer, not so much.", " “one more thing” to carry around. That I definitely DON’T need." CIO.com quotes Rebecca Wettemann, analyst at Nucleus Research. "What we've got is a color Kindle—a Kindle for dummies—at a higher price point."

What's missing?

In simple terms, the apps followed very closely by the real problems that it solves for consumers.

The apps were a big success point for the iPhone because it was the first smart phone to bring a large family of useful applications to consumers - so much so that 100K+ were created and consumers were willing to pay for them. The success of the iPad will not be the portability of these iPod applications. I doubt consumers will pay for a larger device just to run the same apps.  The iPad success will come from the next generation of applications specifically built to take advantage of the device's screen size and other features. This can happen for five primary reason:
  • There already are a large number of developers familiar with the programming model.
  • Consumers will likely be ready to pay for the portability
  • Companies simply have to dial back their investment in their websites and increase their efforts applied to developing iPad apps - proportional to the number of users that purchase the iPad.
  • Certain types of consumer applications will thrive with this type of device. Magazines will salivate on the rich display, the ability to embed ads, and the ability to charge for subscriptions. A new breed of games will be created. I could also see a renewed attempt to develop applications for the "home" - kitchen/recipes apps, home improvement apps, etc - all taking advantage of the iPad's size and portability. 
  • Enterprises will consider deploying these devices for parts of their workforce and deliver better functionality, higher mobility, and simplicity - all at a lower cost than deploying a laptops. The sales force is an easy example who could have a better device for accessing CRM tools and making informal presentations. 
Will the device change user behaviors?


Let me answer that based on personal experience.


If you asked me my thoughts on the Kindle three months ago, I would have said, eh, why do I need it. I don't read a lot of books. But after getting one - and even after seeing that some of the software functionality is at a 1.0 maturity - I'm still excited over it and it has changed my media consumption behavior.

In the last year, I've purchased and read exactly zero paper books. Nothing driving me to find books, not interested in carrying them, and little time to read them. But that's changed with the Kindle for one very simple reason. It's now practical for me to buy several books, "carry them", and switch between them based on my immediate interests. Tomorrow morning I might read a chapter of the latest book on innovation, on the way home I might read a chapter from a foodie book, and this weekend a chapter (hopefully several!) from a novel.  I'm buying books again - all because the Kindle made my consumption model convenient, useful, and fun.

So will the iPad be transformational? We'll see.

3 comments:

  1. I don't think the foundation is solid enough, remember it's iphone OS which is OSX rip version.
    the mainly idea for this device is to change the way people reading newspaper and their magazines. that's Y Apple is saying "step on Kindle's shoulder and reach further."

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  2. my8bug - you may be right since the device does not multitask. It doesn't feel very Apple-lish if I can only read and not listen simultaneously. Still, I think developers will find clever apps for a mobile device with a larger (than ipod) screen.

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  3. On the date of the announcement I was completely underwhelmed by the iPad. Over the last few days I've had time to reflect on the device and I've done a complete 180 on it. I think it has the potential to be a game changer over time the same way the iPod has transformed the distribution of music.

    I came to the conclusion over the course of several days commuting in and out of New York carrying a blackberry, kindle, macbook, ipod, newspapers, and a variety of magazines.

    The key to the broader acceptance of the iPad is going to come from the content providers finding a way to monetize their content through a combination of subscriptions and advertising and by changing their content away from simple digital representations of their print content to fully interactive sites leveraging real time video to provide a richer user experience.

    Creative publishers, particularly of non-fiction, should be re-imagining the book and changing the dynamic of competition in the industry. Instead of competing with Amazon solely on price they could be competing on features creating interactive books with audio and video interviews, links to source materials, archival video etc.

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