Are we surprised or unsurprised at the extraordinary success of the iPad? Apple says it sold over a million iPads in its first month. This contrasts with it taking 74 days to sell 1 million of the original iPhone when that was first released.
Selling 1 million iPads is all the more remarkable when you consider two relevant issues. Firstly, half of the iPad models were not yet available during the first month of sale – only the WiFi equipped models were for sale; the 3G wireless models were not released until the end of that month. One has to presume that if all iPad models were available simultaneously, the first million units would have sold even more quickly.
The second factor is, when one strips away the hype, the iPad remains a solution in search of a problem. Try as I might, I still have yet to come up with any real reason to use my iPad in my normal business and personal life. Most of the million iPad sold were to people like me – people who had never seen an iPad before, and who had no understanding of why they should buy one, but who nevertheless rushed to spend $500+ to get this increasingly 'must have' gadget.
At least with the iPhone, it was an understandable product that people bought for bona fide reasons.
And what of the iPad's impact on netbook sales?
I have always liked netbook computers and have one myself. It is great to use on planes, where a full-size laptop is just too big to open up if you are in coach class, and if one is traveling out of town for a few days with only moderate need for computer keyboarding, a netbook is a great compromise – you still have all the essential functionality of a regular PC, but in a very much smaller and lighter package.
I hadn't really felt that netbooks were greatly at risk by iPads. But what do I know? This interesting blog entry quotes from a recently released Morgan Stanley research paper, and reprints a graph from that paper, showing a stunning reduction in sales growth for netbooks from January this year forward.
The iPad was announced on 27 January, and first went on sale on 3 April.
Coincidence? Almost certainly not.