Bigger than a mobile phone yet less cumbersome than a
laptop, the iPad -- a touch-screen device that lets users surf
the Web, read e-books, watch videos and play games -- goes on
sale starting at $499 this weekend. It won’t have a camera,
support for Flash video or run multiple programs at once.
“You’re asking people to take a leap of faith, regardless
of how interested they are, in a category that consumers have
shown very little interest in,” said Apple
is trying to remake the tablet -- a thin, handheld
computer that’s essentially a big screen without a physical
keyboard. Also known as slate computers, tablets have been
available since the 1990s, without ever catching on. They
currently account for less than 1 percent of the personal-
computer market, according to research firm Gartner Inc.
The initial reviews found the iPad to be a fast device with
potential as a laptop replacement, even if it lacked some
desirable features. The Wall Street Journal’s
called the iPad “fun, simple, stunning
to look at and blazingly fast.” Apple
found that 66 percent of consumers -- and 60 percent
of people who say they currently own an Apple product -- “don’t
foresee an iPad purchase in their future,” according to an
online survey of 2,000 consumers age 18 and older. The survey
was done between Feb. 24 and March 3, NPD said.
“It’s easy to sell stuff to early adopters because they
want to buy stuff,” Baker said. “It’s hard to sell to the mass
market because you have to convince them what you’re selling is
something new they want.”
Those early adopters may number in the tens of thousands
this weekend. Apple will sell 200,000 to 300,000 iPads on
Saturday and Sunday, according to
, an analyst
at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., projects opening weekend sales of
300,000 to 400,000 iPads. That compares with the 270,000 iPhones
sold in the first weekend after its 2007 debut.
declined to comment, said Best Buy
, the largest electronics retailer, sees the iPad
as a “huge opportunity,” said Wendy Fritz, the company’s
senior vice president of computing. The chain will start selling
the iPad April 3 at 673 U.S. stores, with another wave of
inventory arriving on April 11.
“We think about it as an ability to create a new market
and new technology,” Fritz, 40, said in an interview.
Still, it may take a year for the mass market to embrace
the iPad, Munster says. While the device should run most of the
150,000 applications available today for the iPhone, some
consumers will wait for new apps and content before taking one
home, he says.
Waiting for 3G
Customers may also wait for models that support speedy
third-generation wireless networks, he says. Apple
start selling 3G versions, which begin at $629, later in April.
The iPads coming out this weekend rely on Wi-Fi to go online.
The company will likely see a drop-off in demand after the
early rush this weekend, Sacconaghi says. He expects Apple to
sell about 5 million in the first 12 months, compared with 6.1
million iPhones in its first year on the market. Sales should
pick up over time -- assuming Apple
extends the iPad beyond the
10 countries already announced, he says. More content and
distribution partners also will help.
“There is still a lot we don’t know about it,” said
Sacconaghi, who predicts the device will account for 2 percent
or less of Apple’s revenue
in the fiscal year ending in
September. “In the immediate term, iPad expectations appear
overzealous, which could provide a relative short-term
disappointment for investors.”