The Replacement Killers

Apple’s iPad: A Gadget Killer — or Just Another Gadget? – Knowledge@Wharton:

“Still, for Apple to convince people that they should purchase yet another device, the pitch for the iPad should revolve around device consolidation, say experts at Wharton. Clearly, consumers would welcome convergence. ‘Ten years ago there were very few of us who traveled with all these devices, but that’s no longer true today,’ says Clemons.

Matwyshyn agrees, but she doesn’t think the iPad can realistically consolidate devices just yet. In addition to its memory and battery life shortfalls, she questions whether the iPad can maintain a solid Internet connection: AT&T has taken a reputation hit because its networks have struggled to handle data traffic from the iPhone. ‘For people who don’t want to carry phone, laptop, music player and e-reader, the iPad could be appealing,’ she says. ‘The iPad isn’t that universal device yet, but it could evolve to be one.'”

(Via Knowledge@Wharton.)

While I’m sure my teachers have good reasons for believing the iPad falls through the cracks in terms of being between the compact smartphone and the powerful laptop, as well as failing to replace a plenitude of gadgets they might already own, I am much more bullish on the iPad despite the fact that my evidence is largely anecdotal.

“The Hot New Joint”

Consumers by definition consume, esp. that elusive commodity: cool. I was shocked as I stood in line to purchase a new iPhone 3G how many recent original iPhone purchasers were willing to upgrade. The tech punditry claimed it was simply not enough to upgrade, but there they were in line with me…contract be damned. I’m not convinced it was for the 3G or the GPS. Apple is not the company that markets its products based on tech specs. The new model was clearly better, but it was also redesigned to be sleeker and, dare I say it, cooler.

I have already been struck by the enthusiasm for a device people have not even touched but already want to buy both in life and reading online. I personally know of three people ranging from complete novices to technical Master Jedi who simply want one the day it goes on sale, not including myself. It’s clear they see a place for it in their pantheon of gadgetry.

I myself have 3 iPods, an iPhone, a MacBook Air, and an iMac. My 3rd gen I no longer use. A classic I use to carry my music library around, mostly in my car. And a nano I bought for exercise/running. None of them stopped me from getting an iPhone. Further, I am, in fact, thinking of replacement. I’m looking to deprecate my Air with an iPad because I’m looking for the slimmest computer that I can do my work on. The iPad 1.0 will do quite nicely provided the applications are there.

A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins at 1.0

Clearly the iPad, as demonstrated, is a 1.0 product with its limitations examined ad nauseum. What is exciting for me are the possibilities of a new wave of computing the iPad represents. It’s very hard to predict exactly how things will change because it is the developers who will push this platform to new places if they can. Hardware specs are confining. They determine what the limits are, but it’s the software developers who determine what you can actually do with a computer. And ultimately it is they who will determine if consumers will want an iPad or not.