My prediction – take some tablets
With the launch of the iPad now a few days behind us, and the dust beginning to settle I thought it was time to reflect on what this is going to mean to the marketplace.
Firstly this is a device for ‘normals‘ (though I do like the term ‘muggles‘). It is intended for the consumption of media, not its creation. It was not really made for the geeks that have spent months drooling over what it might be. Many of those geeks will buy it anyway, but I suspect that there will be a hefty side order of remorse with many of those purchases.
Firstly this is the end of the beginning. Tablets have been around for a while now (and I really liked my X60T) but Apple has shown the world how to do this stuff properly. Prediction 1 – by the end of 2010 the market will be flooded with copycat devices, most of which will run Android.
Secondly, the convergence of netbooks and tablets is starting to happen. One of the CES launches that I missed at the time was the Lenovo s10-3t. It lacks the HD screen and built in 3G that I’ve been hoping for, but I may just have to get one anyway (particularly as fan noise from my S10e is starting to drive me mad). Prediction 2 – the needs of ‘creative’ users will be served by similar form factor devices that run ‘desktop’ type operating systems like Windows 7 and Chrome.
It’s worth taking a look at the media that underpins the consumption experience on these devices (and think about their relationship with sales portals like iTunes):
- Music – I’ve had an iPod since before iTunes came to the PC, which was well before the store came along. I’ve never much liked the iTunes model, which is why the only thing I’ve ever bought there was RATM last Christmas (and I didn’t actually listen to that track). There is now plenty of choice around where to get legal mp3s from, and services like TuneChecker that will find you the cheapest source for what you want. Those that find a close coupling between the iTunes store and music on iPods/Phones/Pads really put the mug into muggle.
- Video – I use my iPod touch a fair bit for video (and used it a lot more before getting a netbook, though these days it’s been relegated to the backup device when the netbook battery can’t hold up). I don’t use iTunes for video either – there are plenty of tools out there that will create me a suitable mp4 file from whatever the source happens to be. Clearly there can be copyright issues going down that track, and I’ve moaned before that the market isn’t really satisfying it users, but I won’t hold my breath for a pragmatic solution.
- Books – this seems to be where all the action is right now, with a fierce battle brewing between Apple and Amazon. I’ve yet to see any meaningful detail about the iBook application, its relationship to the iTunes store, and just how horrible the DRM will be; but I’d be amazed if it’s not horrible. Of course Amazon already have a Kindle app for the iPod/Phone, so surely users can choose between two different types of abusive DRM (provided that Apple don’t use the AppStore approvals process to edge Amazon out). Of course when the various flavours of AndroidPad come along they too will probably get a Kindle App. Part of me wonders whether Kindle (the service rather than the device) will become sufficiently ubiquitous that people will ignore its limitations, but I think that the more open tablets that will follow the iPad into the market will create a demand vacuum for open eBooks. Predicition 3 – if Amazon or Apple can find a way to do DRM free eBooks, where they preserve the rights of the buyer more strongly than the rights of the ‘content owner’ (aka content distributor) then they will clean up, otherwise they’ll be leaving a gap in the market for a new player (and let’s not forget Google here).
- Something else worth dwelling on here is that the iPad isn’t a direct competitor for an eBook reader like the Kindle. There are compromises each way in terms of display quality, battery life and flexibility. I’m still not entirely sure whether I’d like (and be willing to sacrifice the space an weight to) another device just for eBooks, but it’s a largely academic question until somebody starts selling eBooks that I’m willing to buy
- Games – people will want to run games on these things. Popular stuff will be ported across platforms. Gaming won’t be a major factor in product or service choice.
- Web – the iPhone revolutionised browsing on the move, and web access will remain an important piece of the tablet experience. All devices will end up with a good enough browser, and people are going to have to think a bit harder about the bits where we do text input (URLs, search boxes, forms) to better suit those with no keyboard.
Commercially I think the iPad will be a success, following the usual Apple formula – by being a premium price high margin product for people that care a lot about design and an integrated end to end user experience. I don’t think that this will be a slam dunk for Apple though (in the same way that the iPhone has been). The iPad will succeed in the same way as something like the MacBookPro rather than the iPhone.
Filed under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments