iPad off to a strong start, but will it last?

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Monday morning’s headlines were a quick reminder of all the things that happened over Easter weekend. But more prevalent than the White House Easter Egg Roll or Tiger’s return to golf was the record sales, and in turn, reviews of the iPad. It seems we’ve been hearing of the new product for weeks, and now that its arrived, everyone is a critic.

What’s most interesting to me is the amount of people who purchased the iPad on its initial debut: 300,000 units sold in 15 hours! At the baseline $499 price tag, that’s $149,700,000. And we’re in a recession?  It makes me wonder who these buyers are and what their motivation is for buying a device that hasn’t fully been categorized yet. Exactly why do consumers need an iPad? A hybrid of an iPhone and laptop, the iPad still has lots of kinks to work out. The iPad doesn’t appear to be highly productive in nature, lacking fully functional word processing software or full size keyboard, making it nearly useless in school or work settings.  Steve Rubel has committed to taking a week-long tablet only challenge, sure to uncover the practical from impractical capabilities along the way.

Some may say the allure of the iPad is the mystery of the product or the fact that it’s new, drawing on the old branding joke that if something has the words “new” or “improved,” it’s sure to hold buying power. I think it has much more to do with having the “i” in front of the name. Buyers have come to trust the Apple brand so deeply, something named the “iPad” has forgone the bathroom humor jokes and found itself in the wallets of all walks of life. As many news outlets have pointed out, the iPad’s success has yet to be seen. Initial sales are great, but it’s the long term viability that will make or break the product for Apple. In the meantime, there are sure to be thousands more reviews on the product, asking consumers to spill on why we all need the iPad.  Are Americans thoughtful consumers or wasteful spenders?  What’s the draw that gets Americans to shell out nearly half a grand for a new toy during a recession?

Jimmy Kimmel asked the same question:

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5 Responses to “iPad off to a strong start, but will it last?”

  1. Larry Says:

    I went and played with the iPad at the Apple store on Monday. It’s pretty cool, but I’ll wait for the second or third generation, when all the really cool stuff Jobs is holding out starts to be included. It needs a real word processor to be viable.

  2. Julie D Says:

    Just curious if you have any friends or colleagues who purchased one yet?

  3. Jamie Giller Says:

    Thanks for the feedback! Julie, I do have a friend who purchased it. He seems to think it can replace his laptop IF he doesn’t have a need for a serious word processor. Apparently the iPad does has a “light” version of Word. Aside from that, he loves it.

  4. Bob Katz Says:

    I’ve been using (m)iPad since last Saturday and I think as a new work in progress platform, it does what is expected very competently. It is perfect for media/content consumption requirements and would not hesitate to recommend to my 84 year old mother-in-law (she HATES her Dell) but I would not use it for heavy duty Office-type applications like Excel or Word (although the wireless keyboard performs well with Pages); for desktop publishing needs it works fine. Works well as an eReader also, either with iBooks or Kindle (my son loves it) and is great for gaming. Email is fine as is browsing (although I do miss Flash but not the crashing)

    Ultimately, as a platform the iPad will be successful if developers find it worthy enough to write apps for it to take advantages of its feature set. Remember, there is no killer app for it yet (the iPhone had its telephone capability) but I believe it represents a new paradigm in computing, different than what we’ve been seeing in personal computers for over 20 years. As Apple might say (and has said) it’s the computer for the “rest of us.”

  5. Jamie Giller Says:

    Bob, thanks for the review! I read somewhere last week that the browser, without flash and some other features, makes the internet an “Apple Version” of the internet. Interesting take, given that so much of Apple as a brand has expanded the uses of the internet, particularly when it comes to music.

    I agree that the iPad makes for a different experience in personal computing, and you are correct in that it very well may change the way we use computers moving forward.

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