iPad: Gateway drug to Mac addiction?

The iPad is not a notebook replacement - although many will use it that way - but the high-end of Apple's wildly successful iPhone OS (iP/OS) product line. Will it be a bridge to Mac use by millions of iP/OS users?
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor on

The iPad is not a notebook replacement - although many will use it that way - but the high-end of Apple's iPhone OS (iP/OS) product line. The iPad's form factor is less important than the 140,000 cheap iP/OS apps and the 75 million people already using iP/OS.

Eye on the wrong ball Commentary on the iPad announcement has centered on its potential as a notebook computer replacement. But that is backwards: the iPad is an iP/OS device and is an upgrade for iPhone OS users.

Why is that important? Apple has sold some 75 million iPhone OS (iP/OS) products between iPod touches and iPhones. And they're selling more -- 10,000,000+ more -- every quarter.

If 10% of the iP/OS users upgrade to the iPad in the next year, that's a ~12 million unit total market. Not bad, as Apple sold a mere 3.36 million Macs last quarter versus 8.7 million iPhone's + only-Apple-knows-how-many - but maybe more than the iPhone - iPod Touch.

The halo effect iP/OS has introduced tens of millions to Apples user interface design, App store, iTunes, Safari, touch I/O, Apple pricing and the pleasures of a well-designed, always-on, wireless handheld computer. Will there be a halo effect for the Mac?

Hello! Of course.

It wasn't long ago that observers debated the iPod's halo effect. If people liked the iPod would that lead them to buy Macs?

No one is debating the halo today. Mac sales have continued to rise despite a global recession and average sale prices double those of their Windows competitors.

But wait, there's more That is just the beginning. The iPad has the form factor and battery life that make it attractive for all sorts of walking around business apps in warehouses, hospitals, construction sites, shop floors and stores.

For example, those handheld scanners that package delivery firms use? They cost $1500+. Ruggedize an iPad with a silicone skin, add a Bluetooth scanner and get more functionality for half the cost.

The Storage Bits take iP/OS systems aren't a notebook replacement. They are the latest version of the handheld computer market that Palm pioneered in 1996 - and that Apple's Newton muffed in 1993.

Despite the impressive numbers of iP/OS devices, they don't guarantee iPad success. Apple has problems communicating the iPad experience ("magical" really, that's the best they could do?) which is disturbing. But if it succeeds, Mac sales will follow.

Whether it succeeds or fails, the iPad does raise the bar for the rest of the industry. All of us will benefit from that.

Comments welcome, of course.

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