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Apple iPad has to be really good at what it does

Paul Nesbitt

Apple has pulled out all the stops to get the iPad off to a good start. The company's successful generation of pre-release hype and skillful use of secrecy has helped the company create an impression of a hot selling must-have device.

And yet the iPad's fortunes will ultimately rest on the content that is available on it.

Here the message is mixed, and the reasons are at least partly of Apple's own making.

Apple's insistence on excluding Adobe's Flash from the iPad means that a large proportion of websites are peppered with warnings that Flash-based content is not available. This hardly makes the iPad a best of breed web browsing experience, when it really needs to be to attract purchasers.

Apple has also yet to get many content providers onboard: the company has created a page listing what it calls 'iPad ready' websites, which are effectively ones which offer HTML 5 content players, rather than Flash. The list might inbclude some big names like the New York Times, CNN and Time Magazine, but it only contains 20 sites.

For ebooks the iPad already looks like a more reasonable proposition, especially you can read ebooks using Amazon's Kindle application and Border's Kobo application.

Although the iPad is intended as a great platform for watching videos and listening to music, the devices single speaker has come in for criticism in some early reviews.

Market researcher, NPD Group, recently released a report Apple iPad:Consumers' Perceptions and Attitudes, which found that amongst US consumers only 18% of all consumers surveyed expressed a real interest in owning an iPad, although 27% of 18-34 year olds and 24% of people who already own an Apple product said they were either 'extremely or very interested.'

Interestingly 18 to 34 year old demographic said they were most likely to buy an iPad to play music and surf the web, two things the device is least cut out do well, as things stand at the moment.

'The most interested potential iPad customers see it primarily as a music device, or for its internet access capabilities,' said Stephen Baker, VP of industry analysis at NPD. 

'Considering what people are planning to use the iPad for, it’s not hard to understand why people who have these capabilities on other devices, such as the iPod Touch or a notebook/netbook, may not want to spend $500 or more on a similar device.  This points to the need for Apple to close the content deals that focus the iPad on what is likely to be its best long-range value proposition around high quality media consumption.

'For some consumers, and even among Apple owners, the prospect of spending $500 or more for a new device that doesn’t yet have a clear advantage over their other primary devices is unappetizing,' he said.



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