April 05, 2010

The Ipad Commeth

After the American Century

Apple announced that it has sold 300,000 Ipads in the first two days. Toss in some accessories, and this works out to be roughly  $200 million in sales. Not at all bad for a new item that does nothing you cannot do with Apple's previous products.

Is it an Iphone on steroids? Or a mouseless computer that cannot multitask? Or truly a new category? The answer to this question is probably up to Apple. I assume that after selling these models for a bit less than a year, the new and improved versions will appear, including much of what is not there now. This would include a USB connection, now notably absent, and presumably the ability to have more than one application open at the same time.

Another guess: Apple eventually will have so many applications and peripherals for the Ipad that it will replace the low-end computer and the portable DVD player and the Ipod. If Apple also decides to integrate the Iphone into it, this device would become a portable television/phone/computer/music player. In other words, it has the potential to become a universal device that contains everything the modern nomad needs.

It is also possible, of course, that the Ipad will end up a commercial disaster, like Apple's earlier product, The Newton. That was a sort of Ipad, and it worked well enough, but no one bought it.

This time, however, the new tablet may be the portal to the electronic future. If it sells extremely well, its price may come down to just slightly over cost, because Apple will really make money selling all the apps, songs, television programs, and peripherals. Kodak did that with cameras for years, selling them cheaply to make money on the film, processing, and specialized paper.

Whatever happens, this will be fun to watch. When the Ipad eventually gets to Europe, it will be time to decide whether to buy this first version or wait a little longer for the successor which is sure to be packed with more things, cost no more, and have any bugs eliminated.