1,000,000 iPads. 28 days. First Take

Apple released some numbers today that certainly caught my attention. One million iPads in twenty eight days. So what does this mean?

1. Apple has validated this market. As i’ve talked in the past, there’s a worldwide market for 50,000 of anything. Try to sell 500,000 that’s another story. Get to a million and you’re a success by any measure. I suspect that in the history of ‘tweener devices, if you added up all the efforts over the last decade they likely didn’t app to a million units sold. The market is real and it’s a new line of business.

2. The reason Apple was successful was they optimized for the form factor. Sure, iPad looks a lot like a large iPod touch but in practice it’s much more than that. Vendors building on Windows 7 need to think how that will play in the market. Windows, like OS X, for better or for worse was designed for large screens, mice and keyboards. Likewise, Android in current format works best for phones. It will be interesting what Google has to say about tablets at I/O.

3. This space is going to heat up. Once a market is validated, expect others to jump in big time. Much as Apple validated the market for GUI based PCs in the 80s, expect others to challenge them this time around as well. Apple has laid out a paradigm of the next 20 years of personal computing. The rest of the market is not going to cede that to them without a fight. Expect to see weak challenges for the next 30-60 days but some very strong competition as we get into the second part of this year.

41 responses to “1,000,000 iPads. 28 days. First Take

  1. hmmm very strong competition by the end of the year? From where?

    Tablets have been out 10 years. Nada. You really think in 6 months someone can turn that around?

    Microsoft? lol HP? come off it. Google? Trying too hard to be “open” and making fundamental mistakes.

    NO other company has the OS, the battery tech, the TASTE, or the content delivery ecosystem to come anywhere close to delivering a competitive product in that price range.

    Not going to happen.

    Competition? pah.

    • I imagine Google has been working on a tablet OS nearly as long as Apple. Eric Shmidt was @ Apple board meetings. Chrome OS is the foundation for Google’s tablet OS.

      • Google hasn’t been around as long as Apple has been working on a tablet. Recall the Newton? Google’s team were probably working at Apple (or NeXT) back then.

      • Interesting theory since Google already announced Android was their foundation for a tablet OS

    • End of the year is a stretch. Microsoft’s tablet plans are vaporware. Android tablets may show up, but their market share will be too fragmented and confusing for most consumers (too many different tablets in different sizes running different versions of the OS) for them to be actual competition by the end of the year. Like Google, HP and Palm will contend against the iPad, but not this year. WebOS and Android both have lots of potential as a tablet platform, but integrating those solutions into a cohesive package like the iPad will take some time.

  2. Yes, because it’ll only take 6 months or so for somebody to whip up an touch-optimized UI for tablets.

  3. Apple have also validated SmartPhones.
    Before the iPhone was released SmartPhones were complex geeky devices that were too complicated for the average consumer. I know plenty of hard-core geeks who hated using Windows Mobile devices because they tried to be something they could never be.
    I know people who have trouble with DumbPhones (Nokia Series 40 and the like) pick up an iPhone and instantly get it.

    • It’s easy to pick up an iPhone and “get it” when it was designed for people with the intelligence of a 3 year old.

      • You’re using the wrong model to understand smart vs dumb and simple vs complex. You’re slow when you should be fast. Why is it hard?

        The functions of Apple’s devices are discoverable and use consistent user interface metaphors. A user learns how to use it by using it – and the more they learn the more they can learn.

        The experience of using an iPhone is very different than using an old-style traditional cell phone – where you navigate a poorly structured interface using two to four unlabeled buttons that do different things in different contexts.

  4. Okay, I’m an Apple fanboy, and I love my iPad, but let’s see if I can be fair about this.

    Theoretically, anyone who has a touch-based phone or music player OS can compete in the tablet market. Thus, we have Apple, Android and Palm. (I don’t think RIM is particularly eager to leave the smartphone world, and last time I looked their touch product was awful.).

    Apple’s first mover advantage is huge here, and remember, iPad does not have the dependency on the hated AT&T that iPhone does. Most people I know of who own Android phones own them not because they love Android, but because they don’t love AT&T.

    Palm’s Folio was supposed to be a tablet version of WebOS and it looks like it was abandoned for lack of capital; under HP they will have capital and since Folio was very similar in concept to the iPad I suspect it or something similar will be produced. Unfortunately, even giving away US$ 1 million doesn’t seem to have excited the Palm developer base much. That $50 app submission fee has to hurt.

    The generic tablet competition is going to be Android. The fragmentation of the platform is going to be a huge issue, however. I briefly tested the Droid and its app store. The phone was not terribly appealing other than the lovely high-resolution display. The scrolling was rough – it didn’t feel like the device was alive under your fingers like iPhone and iPad do. That kind of quality difference is going to be hard to beat. The app store had a lot of apps but most of them didn’t look appealing or well done.

    The few Android tablets that I’ve seen reviews for are let down by requiring their own dedicated app stores, an admission that phone apps just don’t work well with tablets. On my iPad, the apps I use frequently are almost exclusively iPad-exclusive or customized for it.

    I would not be so arrogant as to say that Apple owns this space forever, but if I were a competitor I’d be scared, and if I were Microsoft I would be horrified. They pioneered the idea of a tablet with their clunky Tablet PC (I tried one, so I know firsthand how awful it was). I don’t think they have anything even close to a competitive device now.

    Apple failed to become a dominant company in the 1990s because it kept its computers way too expensive for the mass market. From all indications, it looks like their tablet is almost exactly the same price as the competition, even when it’s more capable. For instance, JooJoo is bigger, clunkier, slower, with inferior software and yet it is the same price. In short, Apple has learned brutal competition.

    So there will be competition in this space, but at this point Apple looks like the company to bet on. iPad is defined by its apps – I have spent over $100 in apps for it in April – and that powerful ecosystem is going to be difficult if not impossible to duplicate. At the same time, I would not completely dismiss the competition. It’s there. It will get better.

    But nobody has ever accused Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive of inadequate product development skills.

    This fight is theirs to lose.


  5. >Windows, like OS X, for better or for worse was designed
    > for large screens, mice and keyboards.

    This might read better “Windows, like Mac OS …” because it’s the Mac OS part that is designed for mouse and keyboard, just as the iPhone OS is designed for touch. “OS X” is the identical part that’s underneath both of those, which is interface-agnostic.

    > Likewise, Android in current format works best for phones.

    The key thing for me is the Java. If you have a tablet, you want desktop class C apps and console game C apps ported to it. Right now, it’s hard to port from iPhone OS to Android because there’s no C. Look at Twitter having to buy 2 different Twitter clients, one for iPhone, one for Android, and people are asking why they are different, why didn’t they just port the iPhone one to Android? Because of Java. There isn’t enough Java code to support an Android tablet.

    • I’d argue the “large screen” point. The iPad is higher res than the original Mac. The finger is the new mouse and it’s all about portability, form factor and a whole new level of ease of use. Good design is when there is nothing left to take away. Other vendors are trying to add more as a way to compete. They’re missing the point….for now. I agree, the competition will heat up as they start to understand the market.

    • Hi,

      I disagree with hamranhansenhansen’s views on the development language point, so common why you don’t have C Class apps in Android, because i don ‘t want to write a unverifiable code in C behemont from a developer persvetive. You are talking about 2 silly twitter clients, which can be written faster and safer in java then in objective-c, in that manner for example if Windows Phone 7 will be coming out later this year to the market, most of the developers will be able to port their sliverlight apps to phone 7.
      What i hate in the whole story is, we are giving our freedom as a consumer to the firms without any hesitation including the marketing dilemma taking our minds control.

  6. More or less agree. Let’s just hope that competitors come up with something of their own instead of poorly copying the Apple experience.

  7. I feel Apple is just leading the tablet revolution.

    I wont be surprised if in 20 years from now , users dont recognize a mouse and a keyboard

    • Users won’t recognize a keyboard? Come on, for consumer devices maybe, but anyone who works where they have to do a lot of text input knows keyboard is and always will be the fastest means of data entry. (Except maybe voice recognition but that doesn’t look like it will be viable any time soon). Desktops will always have their place.

  8. When Gartenberg says competition, he means devices that have a similar feature list with a couple of extras like USB, and devices that look alike and act alike enough to fool the average consumer into thinking it’s an iPad but $50 cheaper. But in reality, these devices will be poor copies with many drawbacks including lack of accuracy, responsiveness, battery life, ruggedness, and aesthetics, etc., basically things a consumer wouldn’t know until they’d used it for a few days.

  9. Apple has a lot of vulnerabilities with the iPad in the near term. No 4.0-compatibility or multitasking until fall. No back-facing camera for AR, scanning/goggles apps. No front-facing camera for Chatroulette. Poor productivity. Poor cloud syncing solutions. No VoiP solutions. Not the “full web”. High price compared to much more productive netbook. Etc.

    Plus Apple is hemorrhaging goodwill at an alarming rate. I know of no iPhone developers who aren’t “exploring” Android. (It’s not difficult to quit when you aren’t getting paid.) Mac developers and IT are alienated after being uninvited to WWDC. And journalists who thought of Apple as their darling are pissed and installing deadbolts. Once people stop drinking the Kool-Aid it’s much harder to get them back.

    • “Apple has a lot of vulnerabilities with the iPad in the near term. No 4.0-compatibility or multitasking until fall. ”

      And exactly who will emerge as a competitor with these capabilities before then? Also, “poor productivity” is in the eye of the beholder. The iPad is the first computer I’ve been able to be productive with in coach on an airplane, and it’s the first computer I’ve been able to use comfortably standing up at tradeshows.

      “I know of no iPhone developers who aren’t “exploring” Android. (It’s not difficult to quit when you aren’t getting paid.)”

      Well, now you know one. This is the same kind of logic that leads people to say “I know no one who voted for George W. Bush, therefore he couldn’t have possibly won.” Just because your immediate acquaintances and the more vocal people on the web are talking about moving to Android doesn’t mean everyone is, or even the majority of developers. I can tell you that there are a good number of developers who are still excited about the platform, and who are more interested in enabling their customers to do great things than in fighting political battles.

      As far as not getting paid, I have no idea where that comes from. For a period of time late last year, my application which has never appeared on any top chart was making more per month than 3 of the top 5 Android applications combined. I, and many others like me, are getting paid just fine from the App Store. It’s the Android store where I’d worry about getting paid.

      • Brad, congratulations on your success with your apps in the App Store. That’s encouraging to hear. Seriously.

        But you criticize my observations as being based on anecdotal information (which I made clear, although unlike the example in your Geo. Bush argument, I leave it to the reader to draw their own conclusions), then you go on to refute my points with anecdotal information.

        I don’t think it’s unreasonable to point out that there are some fairly obvious features missing from the iPad such as cameras that might put it at a competitive disadvantage.

        Likewise, it is fairly obvious Apple doesn’t have the same time window to establish its leadership in this segment that it did with the iPhone. The competition is not all incompetent, and Apple is not incapable of errors.

        It will be interesting to watch as the tablet marketplace unfolds.

    • @patternmusic: those “vulnerablities” represent 1% of the market. The vast majority of consumer didn’t understand a word of your paragraph. They just don’t care about such geek trivia.

      The same goes for supposedly upset iPhone developers. Sure, there’s grumbling, but there’s always grumbling. But the number “leaving” are microscopic and being replaced by new developers at a higher rate (i.e. Apple’s developer base is growing, not shrinking). And I know tons of iPhone developers who aren’t the least bit interested in Android. (Has any developer made any money on Android? I’ve heard of no success stories.)

      • My description of the iPad’s technical vulnerabilities was intentionally geek speak. But some applications that exploit those vulnerabilities will be as intuitive and accessible as anything on the iPad or iPhone. The example of Chatroulette was as a joke, but it’s also a good example of the type of application based on a feature missing from the iPad that could easily become very popular with the “vast majority of consumer”. That it’s an essential killer app might be a joke, but consider that technologies have succeeded in the past because of low-brow applications that became extremely popular. (Look at the success of Minitel.)

  10. The interesting question will be what happens at version 2.

    Remember the first generation iPhone – full or promise but just too locked up and limited? It is with the current 3GS that Apple has a real winner. Personally, I would not buy an iPad until the second generation, and I know I’m not alone in that: we are too used to being left with Apple products that cannot be upgraded and the feeling we bought the wrong dud version by jumping too early. Maybe by then it will even have USB..

    So other vendors have one major iteration to decide whether they can come up to the same level, or loose out.

    Interestingly, many of the review sites today are placing the HTC Desire above the iPhone as the most attractive phone on the market proving that Apple still have their work cut out.

    • I got two good years of use out of my first gen iphone before buying a 3GS. It’s still in use as an ipod and remote control for my Mac Mini hooked to my home entertainment system. Will a gen 2 ipad be even better, of course, but with the existing capabilities of OS3.2 and OS4 on its way, the ipad is a very compelling product right now. A comparison to iphone with OS1.0 isn’t valid.

  11. 1 million ipads is a lot and Apple could reach between 2 and 5 million before there is any kind of real competion. It’s not just the numbers that are important, Apple have by default captured the most enthusiastic adopters of the tablet form factor.

  12. I just don’t get the whole tablet product line. I have a phone and a laptop. A tablet is too big to fit in my pocket and not powerful enough to do what my laptop does. I’ll never buy one, there’s no point.

  13. Microsoft’s Tablet PC was about their fourth tablet device, the first being “Pen Windows” in 1993.

    They actually had a much more affordable and compelling device with the tablet versions of their Handheld PC – which they more or less killed for strategis reasons when they decided to push the Windows NT based Tablet PC and restrict their Windows CE devices to what became Windows Mobile. I really got the impression talking to people at Microsoft that they were afraid of the Handheld PC becoming a laptop replacement and cannibalizing “real” Windows sales.

    A lot of people tried to tell them they needed to go for it, but Bill Gates was big on the Tablet PC.

    We see now how well that worked out for them.

  14. Expect to see a lot of posturing by MS, HP, Apple, and notably missing from this discussion, Amazon over the next year or so.

    Competition will force Apple to add features, despite its desire not to encroach on laptop sales. Apple will be forced at some point to support Flash. Android, IMHO, has already pushed Apple to support multitasking and a few other newbies coming in the next OS rev.

    Real competition won’t come unless HP, MS, Google, and Amazon join forces to create an open content distribution network–that could seriously push Apple back on its heels.

  15. “No front-facing camera for Chatroulette.”

    Big picture, please. That is really not a big concern for most iPad buyers. Re developers, I actually see the opposite: those who left Apple due to their harsh app store policies last year are coming back as they realize this is where the future of computing lies. See http://speirs.org/blog/2010/5/3/back-in.html

  16. I think the Glaring Omission features of the iPad can be classed in three categories; White Elephant, Honey Trap and Progressive Obsolescence.
    Front and Rear-facing cameras is a Honey Trap, Shockwave Flash is Progressive Obsolescence and White Elephant, Multitasking is all three.

    The White Elephant is an asset that costs more to maintain than it will return, but has a perceived value that prevents it’s liquidation. Battery-intensive/Poor-performing Flash and WiMo6-style Multitasking are examples.

    The Honey Trap is where the leader sets a fake goal away from the real goal. Competitors create a distinction based on a missing feature and the leader turns around and say “Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you we had that feature all along”. Multitasking in iPhoneOS 4.0 is the perfect example.

    Progressive Obsolescence is where a feature is neglected because it’s use is already in the long-tail. Flash is being usurped by HTML5 and Unregulated MultiTasking is being replaced by more battery-friendly technologies.

  17. The reason Apple was successful was that they ran a very effective, very stereotypically Apple marketing campaign.

    It’s been 28 days. The device has yet to actually prove itself. Most reviews at this point are (to paraphrase) “We got an iPad. I’m writing this as I unpack it. Over this first 30 minutes (because I’m too distracted after 30 minutes to continue writing), I’ve decided I’m in love with it.”

    Anyone purchasing an iPad is making the decision based on the ad campaign and such reviews. With very few exceptions, they are not basing their decision on any sort of performance statistics or basic analysis of “does this do what Apple says it does?”

    Until the journalist community actually starts analyzing the device to figure out how it truly performs, and begins offering solid advice on what niche it can fill, consumers are relying on the Brand and nothing more.

    While I will keep an open mind about it (I’m truly hoping it’s everything Apple promises), I do remember the original iPhone launch.. and while Apple may point the finger at AT&T, the fact remains that Apple negotiated that contract with AT&T, and neglected to ensure that iPhone connectivity would be reliable and at the promised quality/speed. I can only cross my fingers and HOPE that they learned from that mistake, and made certain that they were 100% ready to launch this time. This is Apple though, and judging by their continued releases of lap-ovens (new MacBooks are even hotter than ones from a couple of years ago, difficult as that is to believe) I don’t have confidence that they HAVE learned.

    • I think you are wrong about reviews. The product has been in consumer’s hands for over a month, and I have seen several reviews based on real world use. On a persoanl level, I sent one to my sister – a Kindle owning non-smartphone type customer. She had certainly heard of iPad, but had no conception of what it was. Within 24 hours, it was becomming the center of her world. I believe it will profoundly alter her view of computing.

      And that’s the real point, iPad is not designed to please techies, it will never have a slide out keyboard, nor will it likely ever sport a built in USB port. The number of prospective customers who will bypass it due to a lack of cameras is miniscule. That woosh you just heard is a new wave of consumer electronic style computing leaving the station.

      As to Apple being at fault for the AT&T “fiasco,” who is to say Verizon could have handled the traffic. Nothing like iPhone had ever happened before. And for many of us living outside SF and NY, there were relatively few problems. Once again you have to realize Apple is focusing on consumers at large, not tech junkies in particular.

  18. The problem with the ipad is that its an Apple product, therefore will always have limited market and usefulness.
    Apple with its self governing politics on what you can and can’t run will forever stop any serious business or professional use of its products. The iPhone is a classic example of that.
    A million units is NOT a large number in the scheme of things, when considering the world wide market and the amount spent on pushing this toy to the trendoids!
    How many Windows 7 computers have been sold? A hell of a lot more than a million!
    The iFad products apple create are profitable for the company, (They do have the largest mark up of most tech companies) but they are yet to break through to the masses in any serious way. They make nifty toys!
    Google and microsoft will end up being the primary winners when versatility of hardware and choice of software is available to suit individual requirements, rather than being a sheep in the Apple flock!


  20. Gawd. Thanks for the spray, Bhupinder. I think you need to take your anti-retarded medicine now.

    Enjoy your crappy JooJoo or Android iTablet clone, the rest of us will be mightily happy with our iPads now, while also eagerly awaiting the future iPad 2.0 and 3.0!

    Anyway Mr Bhupkis, do remember that -even an iPad- has a shift key, perhaps you as a clearly non-mentally retarded type person could perchance learn how to use it?

    K, thanx


  21. To Dajjaz
    >The problem with the ipad is that its an Apple product, therefore will always have limited market and usefulness.<


    I say: As a grandmother in her mid 60s who edits a small magazine using Apple's Pages, manages web sites (accredited html and css) for several Associations and stud farms and chats to family using Skype, I really like the idea of using a future iPad. Before I buy one though, it definitely needs to have a front facing camera, be capable of multitasking, save into pdf from Pages to industry std. dpi, run text edit and do ftp. iPhoto could replace Photoshop Elements for my use. Rather a lot of demands for such a small device but the lightness of it really appeals as does the touch screen and portability. Owing to a back problem I mostly use my reliable 2006 12" iBook (I like small) sitting with my legs up and the lighter the device the better. Most of the higher end Macs are too heavy or too expensive as unfortunately is the Mac Book Air. I'm going to be very interested to see what Apple has available in another year's time. I like what I read about solid state drives too. I'm excited about the future of the iPad.

  22. My, oh my, Bhupinder bhayia.

    Can’t you tell the difference between a biological mass and a digitial device?

    Or did you happen to pass out razor sharp pieces of metal, glass and plastic prior to posting your comments? Poor you, you must be in extreme pain.

    Would certainly explain the caustic nature of your words.

    You’d better get off to see a proctologist about your bleeding back-end. Oh, and while you’re there, have your head extracted too!

    Your parents must be oh so proud of your potty mouth!

  23. I’ve been fairly anti Apple the last several years. They didn’t invent the mp3 player, they didn’t invent mp3 playing software. The iphone is bested by other manufacturers (in terms of specifications), the ipad is over priced and gimped (no cam, no multi tasking).

    Having said that, i’m losing my faith in the other manufacturers to be able to offer a better overall package, and I think it does come down to the OS experience as several commentators,mainly Apple users,have said.

    Sure ASUS will release something that is significantly cheaper and packed with more tech goodness, but will it work better? Given my experience with my Nokia n97, which overally i’m very pleased with, the manufacturers can and will come out with better priced options that will have better internal specifications, but will not be able to compete in relation to overall use of the product. In addition to that, the other manufacturers will remain 2 steps behind (i’m being generous) in regards to other value adds that Apple appear to provide on a consistent basis – e.g. the App store.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the ipad is overpriced and gimped to the point that I would regret purchasing it a few months later. But come the next revision, or the revision after that, when the price comes down 30% or so, and they start adding features which I feel would be required (multi tasking, cam) then i’ll probably jump on board at that stage, unless the other manufactures have either a better or significantly cheaper offering which seems to me to be unlikely even after a few years.

    I remember I bought a SanDisk 4gb mp3 player for about 1/3 the price of an ipod. It had more features than the ipod but i never used it, I just found the OS too confusing. On reflection I’d have been much better off spending the extra money getting a gimped version of the same thing that just simply worked alot better.

  24. Most of the comments on keyboards and text entry have not considered that its much easier to enter Chinese using the iPhone interface that using a keyboard… and there are lots of people writing Chinese – just a thought :)

  25. congratulations to apple’s marketing strategy… all the hard works truly paid off… It’s a success that no other company can surpass…

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