Apple to analysts: Eat my iPad!

Everyone is dog-piling on analysts this week over the iPad. Somehow, almost all of them got it all wrong, some of them, very wrong. One hapless analyst is having her nose rubbed in reality just days after a prediction. With hindsight, the original predictions make amusing reading.

Everyone is dog-piling on analysts this week over the iPad. Somehow, almost all of them got it all wrong, some of them, very wrong. One hapless analyst is having her nose rubbed in reality just days after a prediction. With hindsight, the original predictions make amusing reading.

Of course, the worst case came true for poor Forrester Research's Sarah Rotman Epps. She put out a paper on the tablet and netbook markets last week. While most press coverage on the report was on the netbook side, she wrote that total 2010 sales for tablet devices would be 3.5 million units. This figure may have sounded sensible until a week later when Apple reported that it had shipped 3 million iPads in 80 days. Sorry!

Here is a selection of analyst predictions on the iPad before it had shipped:

Jan. 27. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says he had been wrong in previous calculations and the iPad will be a hit, meaning maybe 4 million units.

In a research report to clients, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the iPad's $499 entry-level pricing now leads him to believe Apple will sell between 3 and 4 million of the devices in its first 12 months on the market. That's up from his earlier prediction of just shy of 1.9 million units made at the end of last year under the assumption that the product would average a $600 price tag.

Jan. 27. ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr says that the iPad is "no sure thing." In a familiar anti-Apple trope, the iPad's problem is its missing Adobe Flash and so-called "gaps."

"Several functions -- front-facing and still/video cameras, external storage interfaces, support for Flash in the browser -- are absent," he wrote in a research note. "The iPad prices and gaps in functionality are likely to leave the door open for other media tablet vendors."

ABI predicts that 4 million tablets such as the iPad and the lesser-known Archos 5 will ship this year.

What this prediction said was that the iPad would be a dog and that its competition would fill out most of the sales. Reality check: The several tablets touted by Microsoft's Steve Ballmer in a January keynote have all been pulled from the market.

Prediction hell: How dumb do Bill Gates & Microsoft's iPad, Surface predictions look now?

Feb. 4. Shopping site Retrevo ran a couple of "studies" to determine interest in the iPad. It said that the hoopla over the iPad had failed to convince potential buyers.

Retrevo’s study asked consumers whether or not they had heard about the tablet before the tablet was introduced and again after the announcement. The word definitely got out as the number of respondents saying they had heard about the tablet rose from 48 percent shortly before the announcement to over 80 percent after the media frenzy on January 27th. ...

Unfortunately for Apple, the number of respondents saying they had heard about the tablet but were not interested in buying one, doubled from 25 percent before the announcement to over 50 percentfollowing the announcement.

This company says that it uses "artificial intelligence to analyze and visually summarize more than 50 million real-time data points from across the web to give shoppers the most comprehensive, unbiased, up-to-date product information they need to make smart, confident decisions about what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy."

Note to Retrevo technology engineers: Perhaps it's time to rework the algorithms, no?

March 5. This Gartner prediction may be closer to the mark.

Apple's iPad could drive total tablet sales for the year as high as 10.5 million devices, a Gartner Research analyst said today. ...

Shiffler cautioned, however, against setting unrealistic expectations for either the iPad or tablets in general. "Our estimate is a best case," he warned, "and presumes that the iPad does take off."

He added that the PC business will continue to be driven by mobile devices, but that netbooks, which have grabbed a significant chunk of the market, will see their share shrink this year under the two-pronged onslaught by new low-powered ultraportable notebooks and tablet-style hardware like the iPad.

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