It’s taken me a couple of weeks to really come around to the opinion that the iPad is going to cannibalize ebook reader sales. I was on the fence before the iPad announcement, and I was on the fence once the announcement was over. Over the last couple of days, however, my opinion began to evolve into something else entirely. I can summarize the entirety of my opinion in three key statements.
Let’s take a trip back in time for a second and think about the iPhone, and the opinions that were circulating around the internet at the time of its release. It was lukewarm for most, and a gem for a few. People weren’t sure what to expect, and without being able to visualize what applications were in store for us, it wasn’t hard to second guess the device on a whole.
Here we are again, a couple of years have passed, and a new product brings the same kind of questions and the exact same kind of early reviews. This time around we have device that will be able to run a couple hundred thousand applications right out of the box, as well as a whole slew of applications that will surely follow the iPads release. As much as everyone’s lamenting that this device is just a bigger and faster iPhone, the foul cries are actually one of the devices biggest assets. More screen space and a faster device means big and better applications. Don’t sell the developers short, and don’t under-estimate their creativity. They delighted us once with iPhone apps, and they’re certainly going to do it again. If we add in the rumoured SDK hooks that are starting to sprout up around the internet, it’s starting to become quite obvious that we might be on the verge of some excellent new applications.
Looking at the price comparison in the chart above, it becomes quite evident that the iPad is priced so low that it’s almost criminal. Low pricing and a vast library of applications means the Kindle, Nook, and other e-book readers are in a world of hurt unless they evolve quickly. Who know’s what’s in the pipeline for the e-book reader crowd, but it better be full screen and it better be color, because if it isn’t, they’ll become a niche product pretty quickly, and the masses will start to marginalize the device.
I alluded to it in the previous section, but it really deserves it’s own heading, the iPad will be the best bang for the buck on the market when it ships. Barring any major announcements from the competition, Apple will bring to market a device that has an excellent price-point, and that has much more utility than its competition. The CrunchPad (aka Joo Joo), Kindle DX and iPad will ship at $499, $489, and $499 respectively. When price is paired with the multi-functional approach of an iPad, it starts to get a little bit clearer why someone might opt for an iPad over the competition.
In an economy where money is tight, and purchases of consumer electronics are a little harder to come by, surely consumers will be looking for a device that mets the needs of more than one of their current problems. If all a consumer is looking for is something to read books with, then a Barnes & Noble Nook might be the purchase of choice, and at $259, it borders on an impulse purchase for some. If the same consumer hopes to listen to music, watch video, play games, check email, and do a host of other things then the application store makes the $499 price point a little more respectable.
It may be a little bit more than a Sony Reader or Phillips iRex up front, but when you factor in all the other stuff an iPad can do, it simply becomes a matter of bang for your buck. At this point, the iPad is all bang.
Your personal electronics create an ecosystem that you live in. For most of you (considering you’re reading a Mac-centric website) this probably centres around other Apple technologies. It may not mean that we all run out and purchase everything with an Apple logo on it, but there’s a good chance that you’re looking to find something that integrates into a work flow that you’re used to. Purchase in iTunes, and sync with your device. Plug in your iPad and have it sync with your photo management, email, contact listings, and calendar application. It makes complete sense to want something that continues this legacy. It’s worked for us in the past, and it’ll work for us in the future. It’s the one thing that Apple gets, and it’s the one thing that makes them successful in the consumer electronics sphere: we should spend time using our personal electronics, and not spend our time trying to make them work.
The iPhone just worked, the iPod just worked, OS X mostly just works, and I’ll be willing to bet that the iPad is just going to work. That means that I’ll be able to just work, instead of just working to fix my ecosystem so that it works properly. I don’t want to think about how my personal electronics work, I just want to use them.