Tablets Seize Attention in Mobile Computing Market

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-05-18 Print this article Print

5. Use means everything

When consumers decide to buy a product, they need to consider the value of using it. The iPhone is appealing because it delivers Web surfing, e-mail, apps and more in a smartphone. A Mac is appealing because it offers productivity in a different operating system. But users are quickly finding that using the iPad might be a better alternative. After all, it performs most of the iPhone's tasks and is capable of doing just about everything a MacBook can do. Plus, it doesn't require a monthly fee to use it, as the iPhone does. When it comes time to consider how a consumer would use all these devices, the iPad might come out on top.

6. Where's the differentiation?

The biggest difference between the iPad and the iPhone is that the latter allows users to place calls over AT&T's network. That's a significant advantage that could make some either opt for an iPhone or use both an iPhone and an iPad. But for those who can't stand AT&T and don't require the iPhone's offering, the iPad provides the best of both worlds. They can stick with the smartphone and carrier they want, while still enjoying the iPhone's functionality on a bigger screen that only enhances that experience. The iPhone's calling ability might be a key differentiating factor for some, but it might not be enough for others.

7. Price plays a role

Price could be the biggest reason why consumers would opt for an iPad over an iPhone or MacBook. For one, the MacBook is expensive compared with other notebooks, making it a less than ideal choice for those on a budget. The iPhone, on the other hand, is much cheaper than the iPad, but it requires a costly monthly plan from AT&T that quickly drives the price up. Granted, the iPad 3G also has monthly connection fees of up to $30, but those are optional, and they can be eliminated at any time. From a long-term cost perspective, the iPad is the user's best bet, given its capabilities. That could hurt iPhone and Mac sales.

8. Consumers already have an iPhone

To some extent, iPhone sales rely on consumers who already own a version of the device buying the newest iteration. But with the iPad on store shelves, the need to pick up the latest and greatest iPhone could be diminished. In many cases, consumers buy the new iPhone because it delivers improvements that had been unavailable in previous versions of the device. And the iPhone is now no longer the only Apple touch-screen product on the market offering those improvements; the iPad will see updates too. Maybe consumers will decide to stick with their current iPhones and enjoy all the new bells and whistles in the iPad.

9. Iterative updates are dangerous

Apple needs to be careful when it updates Macs and the iPhone. Before the iPad was released, adding a few improvements here and there was enough to coax consumers to buy products. But now, the differences need to be great enough for them to opt for a MacBook or an iPhone over the iPad. Substantial updates are needed to limit cannibalization.

10. The future is in the tablet

Consumers, enterprise customers and even vendors are quickly realizing that the future of mobile computing rests with tablets. The iPad and several forthcoming tablets are proving that the industry is moving in that direction. The tablet is also causing doubts about how useful those lightweight notebooks, like the MacBook, really are. There's no telling exactly what will happen in the future, but if anything is close to certain, it's that tablets, led by the iPad, will continue their meteoric rise in popularity.

That could prove troublesome to some of Apple's other divisions.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel