A recent report from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster claims Apple's iPad is cannibalizing iPod sales. The analyst said some consumers looking to buy an Apple product are choosing the company's tablet over its personal media player.
That has contributed significantly to reducing iPod sales and has made some wonder how much longer the iPod will share the spotlight with some of the more popular Apple products.
In the same report, Munster also said it's possible that the iPad will cannibalize Mac sales as consumers decide to buy the tablet rather than a MacBook or MacBook Pro. Munster predicted that the damage to Mac sales will be minimal, but noticeable.
If the iPad can damage iPod sales significantly and could potentially have an impact on Mac sales, the question arises: Would the iPhone also be affected? It's certainly possible. And it might be cause for alarm if Munster's calculations aren't quite accurate and the iPad takes more consumer spending away from Macs or iPhones than originally expected.
Here is why Apple should fear the possibility of its iPhone and Mac sales being cannibalized by the iPad.
1. The iPad is center stage
When the iPhone was first released, it took all the spotlight away from previous Apple products, like the iPod or Mac. It also stole the spotlight from just about every other product on the market. The same thing has now happened with the iPad, which has stolen the show from other Apple products. And although the iPhone is still selling well and Macs are poised to have another strong quarter, most folks are going to the Apple Store to get their hands on an iPad, not a smartphone or notebook.
2. It runs iPhone OS
Apple's iPhone OS is arguably the best mobile smartphone available today. Although Google has tried to match the Phone OS, it hasn't been successful. But the iPad also runs iPhone OS, and it accommodates every iPhone application. If consumers are looking for touch functionality and the ability to use apps around the house, the iPad might be a better option than the iPhone.
3. The iPad is a computer too
Apple has gone out of its way to prove that the iPad is a replacement for small laptops that make users productive on the couch. The debate over whether or not that's true still rages on, of course, but all of Apple's iPad marketing efforts have centered on getting users to buy the tablet to make them more productive at home. And since the iPad also connects to 3G, it's arguably more useful than a MacBook for those who surf the Web and check their e-mail often. That could come back to haunt Mac sales.
4. A Windows-iPad environment is nice
This one won't win over too many Apple fans, but a combined Windows-iPad personal computing environment provides the best of both worlds for the average consumer. Now, before Apple fans rail against that statement, they need to remember that the vast majority of companies in the United States run Windows, making the operating system a practical necessity for those working in today's connected environment. But for those times when work doesn't need to be done, having an iPad, rather than an iPhone or a Mac, is actually quite nice. As an iPad owner, I have started seeking out my iPad rather than my MacBook to use at night. It's that good of a Web-browsing device. For the average, mainstream consumer, Windows might still be the best option for productivity, and the iPad is best for everything else. Sorry, iPhone and MacBook.