This past weekend, an estimated 150,000 orders were received on Apple's website for the iPad, with over 50,000 orders within the first two hours. The iPad, Apple's entry into the world of tablet computing, or e-reader devices, has only been seen by a small number of press. It is a success, and it hasn't even shipped yet. These are confirmed orders, not including in-store reservations (which may be even more numerous than pre-orders) for a $500 (minimum) device.
There are solid reasons I believe this device to be a general hit to the populace:
- It's Easy to Use
Apple has always put a lot of effort into the usability design of the device. While Steve Jobs can sell any design choice as a feature, going with a multi-touch tablet certainly makes things more accessible.
- Numbers Don't Lie
While one might be tempted to compare the sales of the iPad to say a cellphone, like iPhone (1 million in 74 days) or Nexus One (135,000 in 74 days), the Kindle is probably the best unit to compare against (estimated to be about 240,00 during the first year). Within the first month, Apple should best the Amazon Kindle in numbers (if it hasn't already). Keep in mind, that unlike the Kindle, the iPad is international ready from day one, utilizing the GSM/3G network. Also, keep in mind the numbers for Apple's first generation iPod, which only sold 378,000 after a full year.
- Apps and Content are King
The Kindle and other e-readers do one thing -- they allow e-books to be read. With the color screen of the iPad, you can watch movies or play games. That will be a major selling point for some people, when games like crosswords and sudoku can't even be played on a Kindle yet. The iPhone has a very strong app store, while the Kindle does not.
- GPS and Location Services
The 3G iPad contains GPS. That means your 3G iPad isn't just an e-reader/web browser/movie player, but it's a GPS map device too. Absolutely useful if you don't already carry an iPhone.
- It's Better Than the Alternatives
If you've ever used a Kindle, there are several drawbacks to using it -- the first and foremost is the speed of the Kindle -- slow in everything it does. Screen refreshes are slow, web browsing is unusable, and even trying to do things within the user interface is slow. Barnes and Noble's nook is a little speedier, but lacks a full-screen color display. The Kindle also has several problems with regard to using networks -- it only connects to the mobile provider, and not to local Wi-Fi networks, which would mean that if I had an AT&T GSM Kindle, 99% of the time, my Kindle would not be using 3G (because AT&T coverage in my area is abysmally bad).
- With the addition of a keyboard (or dock and keyboard), the iPad is a computer
While I happen to be one of the computer-using elite, there are a lot of unwashed souls out there who find using a computer difficult. The iPad pretty much eliminates the barrier of knowing how to use a keyboard or a mouse; the user need only point to what they want to run.
Given all these factors, I find it highly likely the iPad is going to be a solid hit, and I can't wait to play with one.