It’s pretty annoying to always have the iPad compared with Kindle and Nook and to hear all sorts of strange things -
iPad is the best-selling tablet – selling more than the Kindle tablet.
iPad is going to become the #1 eReader.
Kindle was the best tablet before the iPad came out.
There are two main ideas that are being propagated -
- The iPad is an eReader and it takes on eReaders like the Kindle and Nook and Sony Reader.
- The iPad is a Tablet and eReaders are tablets too.
It all makes sense when you dig deeper.
The real competitors the iPad is scared to be compared against
There are actually two categories that the iPad is much closer to than eReaders -
- Mobile Phones.
Why Apple doesn’t want the iPad compared with Netbooks
The rhetoric of revolutionary and magical aside the iPad is extremely similar to netbooks. Yet if it were to take on the netbook there are only 2 possibilities -
- Apple sells 2 to 3 million iPads in 2010 and that pales when compared with the 20 to 30 million netbooks sold. It’d come in at #4 or #5 and that doesn’t sound very good.
- Apple sells 5 million iPads or a bit more in 2010 and still can’t impress when you consider the total number of netbooks sold. It’d still be #3 or #4.
So Apple does the smart (or perhaps cowardly) thing and shies away from netbook comparisons.
Why Apple doesn’t want the iPad compared with SmartPhones
Notice how the iPad is identical to the iPhone in almost everything except size and name and inability to be used as a phone. They have the same operating system, they look the same, and they have the same closed eco-system fed by app developers.
Yet if Apple let the iPad be compared with the iPhone they can’t win. There are 85 million iPhones and iPod touches. A few million iPads sold in 2010 wouldn’t even register in people’s minds.
Apple goes for easy markets – even if they aren’t accurate
Apple is scared to take on netbooks and it definitely does not want comparisons with the iPhone. It therefore picks two other niches to be in -
- Tablet PCs. This is somewhat fair since it is a tablet.
- eReaders. This is totally inaccurate since it’s not a dedicated reading device.
Why being considered a ‘Tablet’ is good for the iPad
There is no Tablet that’s sold a significant number of units. In fact every Tablet has been an abysmal failure. That means Apple sells 1 million iPads after 3 months of hysteria and claims it’s the #1 Tablet.
There is such lack of competition in Tablet PCs that writers are forced to pretend that the Kindle is a Tablet.
iPad is a better tablet than the Kindle tablet sounds much better than – iPad is the best tablet because there aren’t really any other Tablets.
Putting the iPad into a non-existing category creates the illusion that the iPad was so good that in a month it became the #1 Tablet. It plays into the illusion of it being something magical.
Why pretending to be an eReader is good for the iPad
There are dual benefits -
- Apple can trick people interested in buying a dedicated eReader into buying an iPad. Since eReaders are an exploding and emerging market it’s especially easy to pass off any device as an eReader and well worth it.
- Amazon and B&N and Sony are all silent on numbers. This lets Apple claim it’s the #1 eReader in sales.
eReader companies are doing a particularly bad job of fighting this misconception.
The Paradox of Being Revolutionary and not competing with established markets
Let’s contrast the rhetoric -
iPad is revolutionary and magical.
iPad is going to transform personal computing.
iPad is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.
With the reality -
- iPad isn’t comparing itself with the computers and PCs and laptops it’s claiming it’s going to replace.
- iPad isn’t even comparing itself with netbooks – which are a newer, rapidly growing market.
- iPad isn’t comparing itself with mobile phones.
It’s revolutionizing personal computing because it sold 1 million iPads – Yet Windows 7 has sold 100 million copies. Doesn’t sound like a revolution to me.
The iPad is so revolutionary that it’s comparing itself with Tablets – A category so devoid of competition that we couldn’t even name one. It’s so magical that it’s pretending to be an eReader and steal off some of that market.
It’s very smart reality distortion – However, it isn’t reality
We know why Steve Jobs is doing this. It’s better to start off in smaller, weaker markets and try to dominate them and then move on to bigger markets.
It might work. Perhaps enough people will buy the #1 Tablet Rhetoric and some people will even fall for the Most colorful eReader nonsense. And then Apple can get to 10 million iPads sold and keep growing and eventually get enough sales to pretend it’s revolutionized computing.
All that Apple has revolutionized is marketing and locking out competitors. It’s admirable that Apple and Steve Jobs can so thoroughly convince some people that the iPad is revolutionary. However, it doesn’t become revolutionary just because you talk a portion of people into believing its revolutionary.