Dude, the iPad isn't a notebook - get over it!

No surprise to the long-suffering Mac community, the PC punditocracy is having trouble understanding the iPad value proposition. As Steve Jobs kept repeating at the launch event, the iPad is something different. Why is this so hard to understand?

No surprise to the long-suffering Mac community, the PC punditocracy is having trouble understanding the iPad value proposition. On one hand some say, users would be better off with a small Windows-powered notebook or a netbook, which are less expensive and are "real computers." On the other hand, some said after the Wednesday launch event that the iPad was a "reliable notebook" that will work so great that it will eat into MacBook sales, especially the MacBook Air. Come on, get real! Yes, the iPad looks to be "wonderful," as Steve Jobs reminded the assembled media and partners over and over at the launch event in San Francisco. Sure, it's a very mobile platform and provides a snappy and elegant user experience. But it's not a "real" general purpose notebook computer that will do all the things that Mac users are accustomed to doing day in and day out.

Can users get some of their tasks done? Sure, there will be an interesting productivity story in a mobile context. But what about rich content creation, such as audio and video? Even a lot of writing would be troublesome on the multitouch screen keyboard. It's a better experience than entering a lot of text into an iPhone, but it doesn't have the ergonomics or real performance of a notebook or desktop. Must we use just have one computer? Aren't we now ready for a variety of computing devices, big and small, mobile and fixed, that can offer different values and performance? I asked the same questions a couple of years ago with the launch of the MacBook Air in a post titled, Why does the MacBook Air make so many so dumb?
Somehow, longtime Mac users were deluded that this new machine would be some kind of a replacement for a MacBook Pro. Sorry, it isn’t the replacement for anything. The MacBook Air is something different.
The MacBook Air is aimed at a narrow upscale segment of the market. These customers care about style and what that style says about them. It’s all a part of their personal brand. They accept a bit-less computing power for more mobility and elegance. Likewise, the iPad is something new: it's an addition to the mobile computing lifestyle. Most of the time, someone would do their actual work on a notebook or a desktop computer, and likely carry a small ubiquitous mobile platform, the iPhone. Yet, often, they might like a more-powerful mobile device with a larger screen and easier input around town, while sitting in the coffee shop writing an email or even taking a meeting. During the launch event, Jobs kept using the phrase that the iPad was something — a website, a photo album — "in the palms of your hands." The iPhone is a device that puts the world into one hand; the iPad, two hands. Of course, it will also an excellent content platform for rich media books, games and video. And more, no doubt. The acceptance of the iPad will come when customers hold it, feel its quality (hardware and experience) and see with their own eyes its possibilities. Of course, the Apple Retail Store will be drivers for that acceptance. As Apple pointed out in Monday's conference call on Apple's Q1 results:
We hosted a record 50.9 million visitors in our stores during the quarter compared to 46.7 million visitors in the year-ago quarter, an increase of 9 percent. We also conducted 586,000 personal training sessions and sold 280,000 memberships to our one-to-one program. We now have 52 stores outside the US and we are on track to open 40-50 stores in fiscal 2010, at least half of which we expect to be in international locations. We remain very pleased with the performance of our stores and customers continue to truly value the great experience our stores provide.
The stores will be very ready to educate visitors on the latest addition to their increasing Apple digital lifestyle.


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