Jumping on the iPad Bandwagon

By J. Gerry Purdy  |  Posted 2010-03-19

INSIDE MOBILE: Apple iPad: Migrating to a Three Mobile Device World

On January 27, 2010, Apple finally announced the long-awaited iPad. It's a design marvel. Hold it vertical and it's an ebook. Rotate it horizontal and it's a media player. The iPad is 0.5 inches thick and weighs 1.5 pounds. It includes an LED-backed, 9.7-inch touch-sensitive display, with a resolution of 1024x768. It includes the standard iPhone and iPad connector. Owners will attach it to their computer using the standard cord that has the iPad connector on one end and USB on the other.

The iPad features Apple's new in-house designed A4 system on a chip, which includes an ARM-based CPU (based on the Cortex A9 MPCore processor). Look for the A4 and its successors to migrate into the iPhone and iPod touch. This gives Apple control over the design of both the hardware and the software for future phones and tablets.

What's missing? A Web cam for one, as iPad customers could make good use of it to share video with family and friends from just about anywhere in the home. I also wish Apple had included an SD slot to make it easy to import photos from most digital cameras and expand the storage available in the system.

The iPad will run most of the 140,000 applications in the iPhone App Store, but don't confuse this as just being an iPod touch with a big display. Future applications will be designed exclusively for the iPad in both the publishing and rich media sectors-potentially making the iPad an exciting new computing paradigm for tens of millions of customers.

Apple announced the iBookstore with five initial publisher relationships: Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, with more to come. The iBook application for the iPad communicates with the iBookstore to select and download ebooks. Why wasn't Barnes & Noble a part of this? And why wasn't Google a partner for all of their scanned books? The New York Times did show off a new iPad application under development that was very impressive, but there wasn't any announced support from the other major newspaper and magazine publishers.

And I was surprised that there weren't any announcements or endorsements from Hollywood studios (for example, Disney). Hopefully, Apple will add these by the launch. I commend Apple for announcing support of the open ePub format. The iBook application is definitely cool, with the image of a bookshelf for the books on your iPad.

Will the iPad Kill the Kindle?

Will the iPad kill the Kindle?

Will the iPad kill the Kindle, Nook and other current ebook readers? No, it won't, because many people will simply desire to read books and they do not want nor need all the extra, rich media capabilities found in the iPad. Reading black and white text in a traditional book on an iPad may not provide much of an incremental benefit.

Now, iTunes is supported in the iPad just as it is on the iPhone and iPod touch. But there's still no Web version of iTunes, so you have to get to the iTunes store through the local iTunes application. And no streaming of media (music and video) was announced-yet anyway. Apple recently acquired lala, so it's expected they will offer something with streaming media soon.

The Safari Web browser is in the iPad, which is great. However, there's no support for Adobe Flash-a capability that has literally taken over and become a core part of the Internet. We all visit Websites using Flash for media support (graphics, motion, etc.) every day. Why doesn't Apple step up and support Flash? I really hope Apple will add support for Flash in their mobile platforms.

Apple doesn't yet support multitasking and background operation in the iPhone and iPad operating system. They will clearly need to support multitasking and background on the iPad since users will want to keep a number of different applications open at the same time. For example, it seems obvious that most users would like to listen to music while surfing the Web. Background operation allows support for instant messaging (IM) and alerts. These are two small-but very important-things that Apple needs to incorporate into the iPad operating system very quickly.

Apple also announced iWork for the iPad, a desktop-class productivity suite designed specifically for Multi-Touch. It includes Pages (for word processing), Keynote (for presentations) and Numbers (for spreadsheets). The three applications will be available separately through the App Store for $9.99 each.

The iPad certainly shouldn't be confused with a phone, but we hope that the iPad will support voice over IP (VOIP) using Skype or Google Talk with a headset. And it would be a natural to interface with Google Voice so you could easily manage your calls from your iPad.

In the same way that the iPhone syncs up with the user's PC or Mac, the iPad syncs with iTunes Store and iBookstore will be automatically synced to your iTunes library the next time you connect with your computer. Apple should add wireless sync over WiFi.

iPad Versions, Availability, and Price Plans

iPad versions, availability, and price plans

The iPad comes in two versions: one with WiFi and the other with both WiFi and third-generation (3G). iPad includes the latest 802.11n WiFi, and the 3G versions supports High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). The iPad includes on-device activation.

The iPad will be available in late March for a suggested retail price of $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB model. The WiFi + 3G models of iPad will be available in April in the United States and selected countries for a suggested retail price of $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model. Thus, for $130 more, the customer gets a modem for 3G wide area wireless.

The customer still has to purchase a data plan from AT&T: $15 for 250MB per month and $30 per month for unlimited access (no long-term contract required). I suspect a lot of people are going to take the WiFi-only model and use it at home or at the office using WiFi. The agreement with AT&T is not exclusive on the iPad so I anticipate that we'll see a version running on Verizon Wireless later this year.

The development world for the iPad seems very exciting. I hope that iPad developers will create, for example, animation for the education market to help the learning process, "active" newspapers and magazines like the one in the Sports Illustrated vision video, and make the reading experience on tablets have a far greater value than traditional "static" printed books. Thus, publishing is not about the ability to "pour old content" into the iPad but, instead, to create new publishing paradigms that will make the reading experience more enjoyable and productive than ever before.

It was rather surprising that Apple didn't include any announcement with Verizon Wireless during the iPad announcement. But on second thought, Apple is likely still under an exclusive with AT&T until mid-2010 with the iPhone and, therefore, any mention of a relationship with Verizon Wireless regarding the iPhone was premature. I would expect to see the iPhone announced for Verizon Wireless this year.

It's important that Apple adds Verizon Wireless for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. After all, Verizon Wireless has just as many subscribers as AT&T Mobility and represents a large, incremental market. I have a number of family members and friends on Verizon Wireless who ask me all the time, "When is the iPhone going to be available on Verizon Wireless?" They are locked into family plans and can't or aren't about to move to AT&T. Adding Verizon Wireless isn't intended to slam AT&T but, rather, to simply provide 80+ million more customers with access to the iPhone, iPod touch and, now, the iPad.

Finally, Apple will likely make MobileMe more important so that it can pervasively sync between your MacBook, iPad and iPhone via wireless communications rather than just when docked. Synchronization will eventually move forward from being transactional (sync your devices) to pervasive (always in sync).

Jumping on the iPad Bandwagon

Jumping on the iPad bandwagon

I expect to see many other vendors get on the iPad bandwagon. There will be many organizations working on integrating information for the three mobile device environment. It would seem reasonable that Google will, at some point, develop a version of Android for the tablet market. Microsoft has the core elements built into Windows but this market may better be served via Windows Mobile. And, Nokia's Maemo operating system could migrate into a tablet as well as Palm's WebOS.

I personally plan to get and use an iPad. I see it as a "carry around" reference device that I'll use every day. I suspect that I'll likely migrate most of my music and video resources to the iPad and listen/view from it since it's so fundamentally portable.

The iPad is a new paradigm in computing; it integrates publishing and media into a mobile platform. In just a few years, sales of the tablet sector will grow to exceed 20 million units a year, which would make it a fantastic new $10 billion-a-year market.

J. Gerry Purdy, Ph.D. is Principal Analyst of Mobile & Wireless at MobileTrax LLC. As a nationally recognized industry authority, Dr. Purdy focuses on monitoring and analyzing emerging trends, technologies and market behavior in the mobile computing and wireless data communications industry in North America. Dr. Purdy is an "edge of network" analyst looking at devices, applications and services, as well as wireless connectivity to those devices. Dr. Purdy provides critical insights regarding mobile and wireless devices, wireless data communications and connection to the infrastructure that powers the data in the wireless handheld. He is author of the column Inside Mobile & Wireless that provides industry insights and is read by over 100,000 people a month.

Dr. Purdy continues to be affiliated with the venture capital industry as well. He currently is Managing Director at Yosemite Ventures. And he spent five years as a Venture Advisor for Diamondhead Ventures in Menlo Park where he identified, attracted and recommended investments in emerging companies in mobile and wireless. He has had a prior affiliation with East Peak Advisors and, subsequently, following their acquisition, with FBR Capital Markets. For more than 16 years, Dr. Purdy has been consulting, speaking, researching, networking, writing and developing state-of-the-art concepts that challenge people's mind-sets, as well as developing new ways of thinking and forecasting in the mobile computing and wireless data arenas. Often quoted, Dr. Purdy's ideas and opinions are followed closely by thought leaders in the mobile and wireless industry. He is author of three books as well.

Dr. Purdy currently is a member of the Program Advisory Board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) which produces CES, one of the largest trade shows in the world. He is a frequent moderator at CTIA conferences and GSM Mobile World Congress.  He also is a member of the Board of the Atlanta Wireless Technology Forum. Dr. Purdy has a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics from University of Tennessee, a M.S. degree in Computer Science from UCLA, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Exercise Physiology from Stanford University. He can be reached at gerry.purdy@mobiletrax.com.

Disclosure Statement: From time to time, I may have a direct or indirect equity position in a company that is mentioned in this column. If that situation happens, then I'll disclose it at that time.

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