Apple did it again, apparently. On the first day of availability, the company sold over 300,000 iPads. As of 10pm Thursday, April 8, the total was approaching 600,000, and between 3.5 and 4 million apps had been downloaded for the device. This has left some tech bloggers and perennially pouting anti-Apple pundits perplexed, as many had predicted a dud.
The “dud” warnings were not all based on insignificant details, however, and the iPad does deserve some smacks for obvious weaknesses – such as having no webcam, doing no multitasking and being, in essence, a big iPhone. Of all these shortcomings, the notion that one has to quit browsing to look up a phone number or send a quick e-mail is perhaps the most distressing, which is why multitasking was the first of the upgrade announcements that got the Apple fan community chatting (even before the first sale).
Where’s the iPad competition?
One reason the competition has been a bit quiet (or, at least, dispersed) is that both the public and the gadget makers call the iPad a lot of different things. This means a range of competitive strategies and no “critical mass” of focused opposition. Is the Kindle book-reader a competitor? Well, for e-book readers, perhaps. Is the Neofonie WePad overpriced, with too few Android offerings? What are the big boys – Dell, HP, Asus, Acer – doing in this product niche?
HP, for its part, sees the iPad’s screen resolution, Wi-Fi capability, long battery life and mid-range cost as strengths that its long-awaited Slate cannot match. On the other hand, its core hardware specs – CPU, hard drive, USB port, SD card slot, front- and rear-facing cameras, a screen that supports digitizer-based input – are clearly to the Slate’s advantage. Of course, it is the seamless, near-magical “Apple user experience” that is the joker in this high-tech deck of cards.
Spec comparison: iPad vs. competitor-like “Pad”
Like the Fusion Garage Joojoo and the WePad, Slate has a 1.6GHz Atom processor that is quite a bit beefier than Apple’s own A4 chip, and will take the HP unit from its Windows 7 Home Premium default installation to any of the many solid Linux OS packages. The USB 2 port and the two cameras are great, too, but Apple already planned for a camera (the spot for it is molded into the iPad case already) and has now addressed other shortcomings that its legions of fans pointed out en masse.
In fact, Apple has already announced plans for a smaller, 5- to 7-inch screen unit, to be focused more on output (music, Web, e-books) than input (typing especially). HP’s Slate has a smaller screen and a netbook standard resolution of 1024×600. Surprisingly for an on-the-go device, HP is coming up 50 percent short in battery life compared to the iPad. The Joojoo and WePad have decent battery life, but when Acer, Asus and some other heavyweights (Nokia? Samsung?) weigh in with their iPad-killers, they had better have more juice than the Slate if they want a good share of this new market.
How do you see the iPad integrating into the corporate environment? Do you plan on using one this year? We’d love to hear from you on this.