Despite the hype surrounding the Apple iPad tablet PC and a lower-than-expected price, it's still unclear how well the iPad will fare in the marketplace. The iPad faces a variety of competitors, including Amazon.com's Kindle line of e-reader mobile devices, Intel's beta AppUp Center for netbooks, and user concerns about whether its functionality justifies its cost.
Apple finally announced the iPad, its tablet PC, at a Jan. 27 presentation
in San Francisco. The
high-intensity buzz that built online in the weeks and days before the device's
unveiling will likely continue for some time to come, as the same analysts and
pundits who debated the then-vaporware's possible features now turn their
attention to its likelihood of success or failure in the market.
For the moment, it seems that many of the tech competitors due to be
directly affected by the iPad's release in two months, such as Amazon.com with
its Kindle line of e-readers, have chosen to remain relatively quiet. During
the Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas at the beginning of January,
many manufacturers announced tablet PCs due to roll out later in 2010, perhaps
hoping to benefit from the anticipation for Apple's product; whether they will
succeed in presenting viable alternatives to the iPad remains to be seen.
The iPad has a 9.7-inch LED backlit glossy multitouch display with IPS
technology, capable of displaying multimedia with 1024-by-768 resolution, and
connectivity courtesy of either a Wi-Fi connection or combined Wi-Fi and 3G.
The 1GHz Apple A4 proprietary processor, combined with either 16GB, 32GB or
64GB flash drives, will power a broad range of applications. Apple rates the
device's battery life at 10 hours.
One potential competitor issued a cautious missive to the press on the same
day as the iPad announcement.
"The introduction of another mobile device, which includes digital
reading as part of its functionality, is a good thing for the digital book
business," Steve Haber, president of Sony's Digital Reading Division, said
in a Jan. 27 statement. "Mobile devices with reading capabilities will
play a key role in the paradigm shift from analog to digital content. At Sony,
we're focused on devices optimized for digital reading and believe that digital
books sales will surpass print sales within five years, if not sooner."
In a research note published following Apple's announcement, IDC
painted the upcoming battle between Apple and e-reader makers, in particular
Amazon.com, as a somewhat even fight.
"Apple is taking on Amazon's Kindle directly with iPad, though iPad has
weaknesses as a dedicated e-book reader and its entry level cellular-enabled
model is $629, much more than Kindle's $259," IDC
analyst Susan Kevorkian wrote in a Jan. 27 research note. "IPS
offers a better viewing angle than traditional LCD technologies, but is not any
better than other LCDs outdoors, and its backlighting can induce discomfort
from eyestrain, something that Kindle has hedged against with its E Ink display
The iPad does possess certain advantages over existing e-readers, she went
on to suggest.
"However, iPad's color display opens it up to a realm of color content
not supported by Kindle," Kevorkian wrote. "The new iBookstore,
supported with partnerships with five major publishers (Penguin, HarperCollins,
Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette) give legitimacy to iPad as a
reading device." In addition, she said, various publishing industry
players could use the iPad to "experiment with new ad-based and premium
business models in order to develop the digital distribution channel as
ad-based print distribution declines."