Apple iPad Is Changing the IT Industry: 10 Major Ways

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-05-02

Apple iPad Is Changing the IT Industry: 10 Major Ways

Apple's iPad has been selling extremely well. In 2010 alone, Apple reported that it sold 15 million tablet units. During its last-reported quarter, Apple sold 4.69 million iPads, helping to further solidify its position as the most dominant and arguably most influential company in the tablet market. Now, all others, including Google, Motorola, Research In Motion and Samsung, are trying to catch up to the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

But the iPad's significance goes beyond the tablet market. That space might be where the device appeals to consumers, but its impact stretches across the technology industry. Companies that aren't even competing in the tablet market are seeing their operations affected by Steve Jobs and Company. And looking ahead, the iPad's impact will only continue to expand.

Simply put, the iPad is changing the technology industry in several major ways. Read on to find out how:

1. Tablets are all the rage

It's important to remember that before the iPad launched, there were PC tablets on store shelves. However, those tablets were niche devices that failed to catch on with the mainstream. The iPad, however, changed all that. The device ignited a tablet craze that caused several more devices to come out after it. Now, tablets are everywhere. And the iPad is the main reason for that.

2. Who needs netbooks?

Prior to the launch of the iPad, netbooks proved to be the go-to device for users who wanted to be more productive while on the go. There was even some speculation that netbooks would hurt notebook sales and potentially carve out a significant portion of the market. But then Apple introduced the iPad, and all that changed. Now, it seems like only a matter of time before netbooks fail.

3. Are notebooks that much better?

Of course, netbooks aren't the only computers that might be in deep trouble now that devices like the iPad are on store shelves. Lightweight notebooks, devices typically featuring 13- to 15-inch displays and boasting less-capable specs than their more-powerful laptop counterparts, are also having some trouble finding a customer base. As the Great Recession proved, consumers have a finite amount of cash to spend, and when they want mobile-focused products, opting for both a tablet and lightweight notebook isn't always possible. Considering the iPad's sales, it seems many folks are choosing Apple's option over notebooks.

4. Touch screens are more popular than ever

The touch screen isn't necessarily the best solution for enterprise customers who want to be productive. However, they do tend to work quite well on tablets. Since the iPad has become so popular, touch screens have become more appealing to consumers in the computing market. It's an interesting shift that can't be overlooked. If it weren't for the iPad, the touch screen wouldn't be nearly as popular in the computing market as it is today.

Looking Beyond Windows


5. It's cementing Apple's position in the marketplace

It's hard to believe that Apple has grown into the biggest technology company in the world. When Steve Jobs first returned to the company he co-founded, some wondered if he could fix Apple. But with a string of successes, including the iPod and iPhone, he confirmed Apple's position as a force to be reckoned with in the technology industry. Now, with the iPad 2 on store shelves, it's clear that Apple's tablet is only cementing the company's position as a dominant force in tech. All others are playing for second place.

6. PC vendors are on notice

Prior to the launch of the iPad last year, PC vendors such as Dell, HP and Acer knew that the vast majority of consumers would opt for their computers, rather than any other. But the iPad has changed that. Apple's tablet is now a real threat to every other computer on store shelves.  Major PC vendors are having a harder time than ever getting consumers to opt for their computers. In fact, IDC reported recently that global PC shipments were down 3.2 percent in the first quarter. When tablets were included in that tally in a study from another research firm last month, global sales were up 7 percent. It's an interesting shift that could have a profound impact on the marketplace going forward.

7. An underpowered tablet-for a price

When one considers what they can do with Apple's iPad 2 compared with a full-fledged notebook, there's no contest-the notebook wins. The device typically comes with a desktop operating system, better specs, more storage and a price that consumers can live with. Yet, millions of people around the globe are opting for Apple's iPad, which starts at $499 and goes all the way up to $829. Apple has proved that with the right product and the right user experience, consumers will pay a substantial sum of cash for a device that lacks many of the benefits of its more full-featured competition. It's an important change that can't be overlooked by Apple competitors.

8. The enterprise is thinking beyond Windows

For the first time, the enterprise is thinking about more than just a Windows computer. In fact, Apple said that many of the largest firms in the world are considering deploying iPads in their operations. If that trend continues and IT executives opt for an iPad over, say, a Windows-based netbook or lightweight notebook, it could be cause for concern for several PC vendors as well as for Microsoft. Windows will remain supreme in the enterprise for the time being, but its importance isn't as great as it once was and it may continue to wane.

9. Microsoft's waning importance

With this trend in mind, it's worth considering the impact the iPad has on Microsoft's business. Now more than ever, Microsoft's importance is on the decline. The company doesn't have a significant tablet presence, and Apple continues to secure that marketplace. The software giant says that it plans to make tablets a key component in its strategy in the next year, and speculation abounds that Windows 8 will carry out its tablet plans. But until that happens, it seems that Microsoft's influence both in the tablet space and the technology industry as a whole is waning.

10. Battle of the giants

Apple's tablet success has only further ignited that company's battle with Google. The war between the firms first started in the smartphone market, where they both started vying for consumer attention. But now that the iPad has gotten off to a big jumpstart and Android-based devices are starting to join the fray, a new front has opened up. Looking ahead, expect both firms to engage in battle across several different sectors of the industry. 

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