Apple’s iPad is flying off the shelves. Jim gives his real-world results after 30 days with it, reviews the Wired Magazine app, analyzes market share trends and asks, can it be beat?
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iPad iPad iPad.
Everyone is talking about the iPad, and so am I. Lets take a look at three things today:
1) My experience with the iPad 3G after one month with the iPad
2) My thoughts on the Wired Magazine iPad app
3) Analyze Apple’s historic marketshare and drill down to see the future of tablet computing and if the iPad can be beat
Note: All thoughts are my own opinion and not that of Wired or Apple. I have no affiliation with Apple and was not compensated.
Summary of the podcast below. Listen to the entire show for the full experience.
OK, so I’ve had the iPad for 30 days of real world testing.
I’ve installed various apps: the Entertainment Weekly Must List and Weather Channel (good, but could use some work), ones with solid functionality (Kayak, Pandora, MLB at Bat), ones that I normally wouldn’t use (Marvel’s comic book reader and games such as Asphalt 5 and Labyrinth), and Conde Nast’s own (Epicurious, GQ, and Wired).
The best part about these apps, is the ease that you can simply install them, check them out, and delete them if you don’t like it. While it does add to this constant ADD, “try it and forget it” world, it really puts the pressure on developers to create visually-appealing, easy to use apps right out of the box. You might only have 5 minutes to hook someone, or it’s delete and move on to the next program. That’s why I think the “Lite for free, pay for upgrade” model works so well here.
People are going to continue to find new and inventive ways to use the iPad. For example, check out uber-designer Brandon Werner’s “iPadfolio” (best viewed on an iPad). He used it in an interview and blew them away.
Things that I’m looking to do more of in the coming months are:
- Download and read more iBooks
- See a Facebook app for the iPad (they have to be working on one, right?)
- Get Apple’s SD card attachment so I can transfer photos from my DSLR right to the iPad
Real life use
As many others have probably noted, the iPad is the king of the couch surfer. It is fantastic around the house, especially for the short time each day that I finally relax (when I’m not out or working on 3 blogs) and turn on the TV. As I predicted, it’s such a better device to do the following:
- Check and respond to quick emails
- Surf the web
- Check Twitter
- View photos
Yes, you can do all this on a bigger, heavier, hotter laptop, but it’s a faster, quicker, more focused experience.
Road test: Family trip
I went to visit my brother’s family in Austin, TX, traveling there with my parents. Results were:
- First and foremost, I did not have to take out the iPad when going through security
- It was great on the plane… it’s instant-on, I didn’t worry about battery life, I watched video, read the GQ magazine app, and easily tucked it into the seatback during meals
- I let a 5-year old play with it at one point, and she instantly bonded (apologies to her parents, who will probably need to spend $500 to get her to stop talking about it at some point). We downloaded Tic Tac Toe and iSpy and had a few spirited matches, and it was amazing how kick-ass she was at the driving video game. Although it was tough for me to tell a white lie and console her when the game yells “YOU LOSE!” if you don’t finish in the top 3.
- I also let my parents (both over 65) use it. They approached it like a cat sneaking up on something new in the yard, and pretty much got the hang of it using maps and music. I did run into one issue, as my mom was trying to check her email in Safari (my email is set up as the default in the app). She was using the updated, flash-based version of Yahoo mail, and it wasn’t rendering correctly. It was just weird enough looking that she NEVER would have figured it out (most people wouldn’t), it was only because I noticed it and changed here to “Yahoo Classic” email that we were able to move on.
First, let me lay out my street cred. I’ve done my fair share of camping and consider myself a pretty good outdoorsman. Yes, I’m an actual Eagle Scout, something that 95% of scouts never attain.
Now let me destroy that street cred. Mostly as a fun test, a friend and I went camping in upstate New York (I did my first trail running race). Not only did we use Google maps on the iPad to locate a diner 2 exits away for dinner instead of cooking, but that night we hunkered down in the tent and watched a movie. Yes, I brought along a $639 iPad camping. And yes, it was awesome.
I’m putting this to the test this week, bringing the iPad on a long road trip. As a combo GPS device, movie player, musical jukebox, e-mail checker, and with the “Gas Log” app, it should come in handy.
Let’s get the two big questions out of the way:
- 500 MB in size
Yes, that is a very large size, especially for those with the 16GB model. Wired feels that the technology will evolve and the app will get smaller in future versions. The tradeoff was video. By including the video within the app, that allowed for a more seamless process and users could read the entire magazine without being connected to the web. I’m sure if we did NOT include it, people would be complaining that every time they got to a video they had to wait longer for it to play. Perhaps there’s a middle ground where users are asked to download or stream upon install (not sure if that’s technically feasible).
- $5 per issue cost
It’s really quite simple.
- When viewed against the cost of a year-long print subscription ($10 per year), the cost of the app seems six times higher. People make the analogy that they pay $10 per year for the Wired Magazine paper subscription, so why should they pay $60 per year for the electronic version.
- When viewed against the newsstand price of $5 (which 80,000-100,000 non-subscribing Wired fans pay every single month), it’s exactly the same.
At it’s core, this is a slice of media entertainment.
- Millions of people pay $5 a pop for magazines at newsstands, airports, and in supermarket checkout lines every month
- The Wall Street Journal charges $4 per week for their iPad application
- Netflix customers pay a monthly fee for video entertainment
- The latest blockbuster movie is $12.50 a ticket here in NYC for 2 hours of entertainment last time I checked
- And don’t get me started on what I pay for cable each month
Bottom line, the Wired Magazine iPad app gives you several hours of media entertainment for $5. And yes, Conde Nast is “exploring many ways of making it easier for users to enjoy our content.” IE, they’re looking at the best way to make some kind of subscription program work.
Areas for improvement
Just so you don’t think I’m a total homer, here are things that I think can be improved with the app
- Better navigation indicators. Because this is such a new device, I think it’s ok to treat users a little bit more dumbed down to start. My guess is that it was partially done on purpose, as it makes the user explore the app and find new features. I’m not asking for giant blinking “click here” buttons, but there were a few small areas where it could have guided me better. That being said, I was a pro by the time I finished the entire issue.
- Navigating the fun stuff. The great part about the app is the interactive features… swirling, twirling hearts and planets, and stop motion legos. But I sometimes had trouble when I wanted to swipe to the next page, but the app still thought I wanted to swirl.
- Pinch and zoom. Once you get used to pinching and zooming all over the iPad, you miss it if you come across something and are not allowed to do so. This was the case for most of the app, except for some sections that let you do this.
- As others have pointed out, there is a slight disconnect when say, playing a movie clip and it brings you outside the app, plays it, and then returns, vs. keeping you right where you are. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that it will continue to be more streamlined.
What I loved
- The app, taking advantage of the hardware itself, is crazy bright and easy to read. Vibrant. Glowing.
- I loved the interactive touch buttons to flip multiple views. Swiping from page to page is — let’s say it — fun, but it’s also a great experience to stay on one page, and view multiple views or photos by tapping numbered dots
- The fun stuff. The ultimate goal of the app is to combine the best of print and the web in an engaging environment. This was best seen in the “Most Dangerous Object in the Office” section. This month it was a flaming hacky sack. Reading about it in print? Interesting. Actually SEEING two employees flailing around with a fiery footbag of flames in the bathroom at the Wired office in SF? Amazing.
- The extras. Ironman spining around, lego Lamborghinis, Toy Story clips, exclusive Trent Reznor songs… all of this adds to the experience.
Call me crazy, but sometimes I LIKE looking at ads. I like seeing cool companies launch cool products that I might want to get. And stop groaning, this is a marketing podcast and blog, you knew it was coming.
But here’s the thing. You get to experience it under YOUR terms. Watching live TV? Sorry, sit through the ads. On DVR? get that fast forward button ready. In a magazine? It’s an easy page turn. On the web? Better hope that peripheral vision is working to block out things if you don’t want to see it.
But on the iPad? If you don’t like the ad — swipe — it’s gone. Instantly. If you DO choose to learn more, you can take it to the next level. My favorites were as follows.
For simply clean, crisp, uncluttered product messages:
- Dyson Fans
- Mercedes (with great commercial embedded)
For excellent photos that looking practically 3D on the iPad:
- True Blood
- Jack Daniels
And remember, THIS IS VERSION 1! Developers, writers, editors, programmers, and advertisers are only going to get better at this.
Can it be beat?
Lets look at four categories that Apple is in, and what kind of market share they command.
First, where am I coming from? I am a computer guy. I Love all technology. Love good technology. I’ve been literally using computers for more than 25 years.
First 21 on a PC, last 4 on a Mac.
- Macbook pro at home, Dell laptop at work
- iPhone for personal use, Treo for work email
- iPod touch and Nano
- 1 iPad
I think that Macs are beautifully designed, easier to use, easier to get tech support, don’t get viruses, are more expensive, and are definitely the computer system that I’ve switched over to, that I see myself using moving forward, and that I would recommend to a friend. However, there is absolutely no denying the market share numbers.
Apple owns just 10% of the personal computer market. That means 9 out of every 10 computers out there are not made by Apple.
But in doing my research I came across this amazing article on Techcrunch from July 2009, that said Apple owns 91% market share on computers above $1000.
So is Apple winning in the computer department? In the big picture, no. There are countless millions of PCs around the world running Windows, the vast majority of businesses and IT departments are locked in with the PC/Windows platform, and will be for some time. It’s a tough process to switch. This is business device in a mature market.
But can Apple win the upper end of the market where profits are greater? Looks like they already are.
What is the market share of the iPod vs other MP3 players? It tough for me to find the latest and greatest stats, but one blog from Sep 2009 said that iPods had a 74% market share. I’d call that dominant. Lets put it this way, do YOU have any friends that have a non-Apple MP3 player? If you were out to buy a new device, would YOU consider something else? I thought so.
My point is thisâ€¦ this is a non-business device, in a relatively new market. And Apple dominates it.
What I am about to say might sound familiar. I think that the iPhone is beautifully designed, easier to use, easier to get tech support, is more expensive, and is definitely the phone that I’ve switched over to, that I see myself using moving forward, and that I would recommend to a friend. Kind of like the Mac.
But in terms of marketshare, it’s also like the Mac. A recent report just found that Android phones outsold the iPhone in the first quarter of 2010. What was Apple’s share of the smartphone market? Just 21%. Again, the stats show that it is hardly dominant.
A cell phone is a mix of business and pleasure, and is definitely a mature market. The iPhone will continue to do well, but won’t necessarily dominate.
But here are the numbers that astound:
- 50 million iPhones sold to date
- App Store carries 200,000 apps
- 3 billion app downloads
Even more telling, Ars Technica reported: Apple responsible for 99.4% of mobile app sales in 2009
What is Apple’s market share in tablets? Let’s not include the Kindle since that is primarily a dedicated e-reader and not a computer. So who is their competition? The Archos 5 Tablet? The Samsung NP-Q1u? Let me know when you find someone that owns one of those. All I know is that they’ve sold 2 million iPads in under 60 days. I’d say that puts them at 99% market share.
So, where does that leave us? Is the iPad like the iPhone and Mac, where it will face stiff competition from it’s known enemies, Dell, HP, and Google?
I’m going to say no. My gut tells me it’s going to play out a lot like the iPod. This is a new device, and an entertainment device. Yes, there will be competition at the lower levels, but the great equalizer is the App Store.
If someone came up to me and said “Should I get an iPad or should I wait for one by Google or HP? I hear they might have more storage, be cheaper, have USB ports, play flash, and so on.” I totally agree.
But again, it’s the App Store. That’s the killer product that will prevent me from recommending other devices.
So if someone asks me, should I get the iPad? I would say can you afford it and when would you use it? It’s best as a companion device, is great for light travel, and is king of the couch.
If they ask if they should wait to get next year’s iPad, I say no. Of course it will be better, and if you’re very patient, then go ahead and wait an entire year. But remember that there will be software updates before then that will raise the bar a bit.
If they ask if they should wait for another company’s tablet, I say they are coming, they will be cheaper, and have some better features, but ask yourself this:
- How long till there is a similar app store that has all the games you want to play?
- Do you sync your music with your iPod?
- Where are you going to download movies from?
- Do they have a better way to read books?
So do you agree with me?
Apple has sold 2 million devices.
They have a huge lead on the competition.
Almost every developer right now is working on iPad apps, not other apps
And when new tablets appear in six months to a year, remember that Apple will have been working on their new version for a year as well.
So I ask you. Can the iPad be beat?
Email: MarketingGuy [at] wired.com