Worrying about the iPad Imitators? Don’t

by Chris Seibold Feb 23, 2010

Hadley Stern recently opined that while the iPad might be glorious, the one reason why it might not succeed is because of the competition. The idea being that the competition could crank out something equal in functionality, price said device cheaper, and folks would buy that product instead of the iPad.

The scenario isn't hard to envision, a $499 iPad can't possibly compete with a $199 Google branded slate type computer. After all, who doesn't want to save three hundred bucks and still get all the functionality? If you remember computing history you'll know that the same scenario has already played out. Recall when Mac OS was way ahead of PCs running Windows and Windows PCs still out sold the Mac handily?

The memory you have is not reflective of reality. You've fallen victim to the years of Apple evangelism, a narrative that maintains the reason Windows and PCs beat the Mac is solely based on price. Sadly, the recollection is a manufactured memory that only seeks to reinforce your biases rather than to expose your preconceived notions to a healthy dose of reality.

Apple lost that battle because its product was inferior. It is that simple. You can argue that Apple didn't have the price point the PC did, and you'll be technically correct, but you'll be missing the larger picture. Apple was selling an all-in-one computer when people were trying to piece things together.  Back then a monitor was a serious outlay of cash, if you already had one, the original Mac was a tough sell. It wasn't the cheapness of Windows and commodity PCs, it was everything you had to give up to use a Mac. Apple was sure they were selling the best system ever for awhile but Apple was selling easy-to-use computers to geeks and IT folks, consumers weren't interested in computers yet. When you don't understand the market or your customers you are doomed to fail.

Things have changed a great deal since the original Mac. We've got the internet, the internet everyone uses. That needs to be reinforced, the internet EVERYONE uses. Your dad who still mumbles about the 1960 world series, your mom who searches for Yahoo.com by typing "yahoo" into the Google search box, your uncle who is surprised daily by the fact that porn movies have become a commodity and can be paid for with advertising. These are the people the iPad is after, people that don't care that you can type "killall X" in the terminal to stop the overwhelming processor usage they weren't aware of in the first place.

With the understanding that the Mac failed (or took over the world via Windows) in place we can get back to the topic at hand. Will imitators kill the iPad? Here we have some more recent examples.

You remember when the iPod came out right? It wasn't exactly hailed as the best thing ever by the tech elite. No one saw the iPod taking over the world, and that includes Steve Jobs. Nine years later everyone has an iPod and the only thing that has slowed sales down, the only true iPod killer, is called the iPhone.

That example doesn't resonate at first. The only company that can take a bite of the iPod is the same company that makes the iPod? It seems almost impossible now to imagine the iPod being beaten; there are just too many of the things, people are too used to them and the ecosystem strongly favors the device.

But it wasn't always that way. The iPod wasn't ordained by god to be the dominate player. People had a chance to beat the thing as senseless as a plastic gopher at a Chuck E Cheese birthday party. They tried. The original thought was that the iPod/iTunes store combo was vulnerable because it was Mac only and about three people used Macs back then. Buymusic.com quickly rolled out. Buymusic.com had the advantage that it worked on PCs, 98% of the market, where the iTunes store worked only with Macs. Seemed like a sure fire hit, right? A market 49 times bigger then the market for the iTunes store is a can't miss! The reality was that Buymusic.com went over like pre-used Chapstick marketed by Cold Sore Sufferers of America. Without the iPod, Buymusic was doomed. 

Failed music stores go hand in hand with failed iPod killers. How many of those can you name off the top of your head? You can't name many because for all the lower priced, better specced, iPod killers companies cranked out none of them ever made a difference. Because they didn't work with iTunes.

We've come full circle. So maybe the Mac, in its original incarnation wasn't all we thought it was, it was badly beaten by a combination of software and hardware. If you are thinking of a replay of the nineties you're wrong. Apple doesn't have to worry about imitators if the it makes a great product. It's got the software side covered with the App Store, so Apple only has to get the hardware part right. If the iPad is half-assed, Apple will get beaten and deservedly so. If the iPad is as great as Steve Jobs thinks it is the market for tablet computers now belongs to Apple.




  • yeah iPad is getting popularity..but there is need of some modification..thanks..Bed In A Bag

    bags had this to say on Oct 03, 2011 Posts: 1
  • I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite sure I will learn many new stuff right here ! Best of luck.
    Harley Handlebars

    Sunil Kumar had this to say on Nov 11, 2011 Posts: 3
  • I am very enjoyed for this side. Its a nice topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy. I think it may be help all of you. Thanks.
    Sram, Carbon Fiber Bicycles

    Sunil Kumar had this to say on Nov 11, 2011 Posts: 3
  • Page 2 of 2 pages  <  1 2
You need log in, or register, in order to comment