iPad: media hype reflects media hope

Tim Renowden/Ovum
09 Apr 2010
OvumThe Apple iPad’s arrival, heralded by unprecedented levels of media hype, has divided opinion, but there is agreement across the telecoms, media, and software industries that it deserves close attention. Media companies are hoping it provides a much-needed boost to their revenues. Whether or not it’s the savior of the publishing industry and the future of computing, in order to succeed, the iPad must attract third parties to build on Apple’s solid user experience and make a compelling case for tablet computing.
Apple announced first-day sales in the US of 300,000 units, with users downloading 250,000 e-books and 1 million apps in the first day of availability: a similar start to the first iPhone model. But can Apple convert these early adopter sales into mainstream acceptance?
Unlike Apple’s previous breakout hits, the iPhone and iPod, the iPad is attempting to invent a set of consumer behaviors rather than solve an evident design or technology problem. People replaced their feature phones with iPhones, and their portable CD players with iPods. It’s difficult to see what the iPad is meant to replace. Apple is variously positioning the iPad as a web browser, a multimedia device, an e-reader, a games console, and a platform for third-party apps, but the iPad cannot replace a smartphone or a notebook PC (the iPad is reliant on iTunes running on a PC for managing most content).
Nevertheless, the user experience of the iPad, developed further into more capable devices, may indeed change expectations of personal computers (in the same way as the iPhone changed expectations of phones) without itself being the perfect embodiment of a portable computing ideal.


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