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iPad: A must want gadget

31 мая 2010

As Apple's much-vaunted iPad went on sale on Friday in Japan, Canada, Australia and six European markets – the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland – questions still remain over which area of the consumer electronics market the device is addressing.

"This is a device that you want and not a device that you need," commented Carolina Milanesi, Gartner's research vice president for mobile devices, in a statement; Milanesi has been using the WiFi version of the iPad ahead of its launch outside the U.S.

A survey conducted in the U.K. by TNS Technology and published on Thursday found that even though one in five people expressed interest in buying an iPad, almost two thirds (65%) of consumers were unable to name a single one of its features.

18% of Britons described the iPad as an Internet-access device and 11% mentioned its screen. Few mentions of any other features were noted, said TNS Technology.

"With so many British consumers interested in buying an iPad, Apple's new product is creating some of the greatest pre-launch demand of any new device in history," said Robin George, managing consultant at TNS Technology, in a statement.

"This is despite the fact that most people don't actually understand what the iPad is, or what it does," he said. "This is testament to the power of Apple's brand and the success of its earlier products."

Furthermore, despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs zealously describing the iPad's many features to an enamoured audience during the device's official unveiling in January this year, there still seems to be one major application screaming out above all others.

"Between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro I have to consciously decide to use my iPad to do anything but read a book which is the only thing I cannot do with the Pro and I would rather not do on the iPhone because of the screen," said Milanesi.

Despite the incongruity of the iPad proposition, inexorable Apple's own sales figures suggest there might be more to this device than just a fancy e-reader. Apple claimed first-day U.S. sales hit 300,000, and announced the millionth iPad sold by the beginning of May.

"One million iPads in 28 days – that's less than half the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone," said Steve Jobs, at the time, who added that demand was outstripping supply, but Apple was "working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers."

Still, Jobs' last comment betrays Apple's own lack of clarity over what exactly the iPad has been put on this planet to do, and there's more evidence to be found in the company's own blurb:

"Apple ignited the personal computer revolution with the Apple II, then reinvented the personal computer with the Macintosh... Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, [and] has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store."

Compelling reading that would likely bring a tear to the eye of any die-hard Apple fan. But things become decidedly more intangible when its products take a turn for the tablet.

"[Apple] recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices."

Rather than introduce a product that redefines a segment of the consumer electronics market, Apple is instead having a punt on what the future might look like – a far riskier move. Weren't we all supposed to be zipping around in flying cars and living on the moon by the year 2000?

Jobs' clairvoyant credentials are about to be put to the test, as rival computer makers including H-P, Dell and Acer, gear up to launch their own tablet computers, some of them running Google's Android operating system, in a bid to capitalise on the iPad hype, and maybe even grab a slice of what could blossom into a whole new area of the market.

Milanesi meanwhile noted myriad iPad data plans from a number of mobile players.

In the U.K., O2, Vodafone, Orange and 3UK have all launched dedicated tariffs.

"There are high expectations that Apple will have another winner in its portfolio," she said.

"We will soon find out if the iPad delivers on its promise to create a new type of mobile device category and to revolutionise the mobile computing market in the same way that the iPhone transformed the mobile phone," concluded TNS Technology's George.

Only after these other devices launch will the industry have a better idea of whether it's dealing with a hot new product segment, or a hot new Apple product and a slew of failed also-rans.

Источник: Total Telecom

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