Why The iPad Is A Hit (And Why I Won’t Buy One Yet)

    by Dorian Benkoil
    April 2, 2010

    Even before any consumers had received Apple’s iPad, it was being proclaimed a hit. I didn’t find that surprising, because from the beginning there were signs this day was coming. Here are a few:

    1. There was a business and tech press feeding frenzy since before the initial announcement of the impending device. The announcement had the same kind of shoulder-to-shoulder gaggles, breathless blog posts, videos shot by reporters from their handheld cameras and tweets that I saw for Kindle announcements running up to unveilings by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, a couple of which I attended.
    2. The knowing skepticism and whining was similar to what greeted the iPhone, pointing out faults (the lack of a camera, a phone, some kinds of connectivity and the ability to view objects produced in Flash) but missing the larger points that make people love Apple devices: the sleekness, the game-changing nature of the way they bring an “experience” into one’s hands, that it’s one step closer to the Holy Grail of that one thing you can easily carry that does it all (sound, pictures, books, editing, connectivity) with the form factor, shape and colors that Apple seems to get so right. (Here’s a love poem from USA Today’s tech reviewer, if you need convincing.)
    3. Apple’s typical buzz-creating genius in the staging of the rollout. There were rumors that may or may not have been leaked that some sort of whiz-bang thing was coming, shifting rumors about dates and times, word spread to reporters to save a date for an announcement, negotiations with publishers (some of whom talk to the press), the big unveiling with CEO Steve Jobs at the center.
    4. There were rumblings of book and magazine publishers and other media companies scrambling to learn about the platform and build new apps for it.
    5. It was seen as a challenge to the Kindle — something I feel is sorely needed — and that Apple is the one that can do it.
    6. Apple these days doesn’t so much invent truly new things as bring a clarity that makes their version of them vastly more pleasing than any that have come before. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, any more than the iPod was the first music- or hand-held video player. They were just the ones that combined great technical acumen with design beauty. The iPad fits the pattern.
    7. They created low- to high-priced versions of the machine. You can have it at the lower price, but you really want the one that costs more.
    8. They overcame the need to buy a two-year contract, by allowing people to subscribe to 3G connection plans on an as-needed monthly basis (though it is with AT&T).

    The Drawbacks

    Still, I won’t be buying an iPad right now, even though I won a bet with my friend and colleague Brian Reich that the iPad would be a hit.

    It's one step closer to the Holy Grail of that one thing you can easily carry that does it all."

    For one thing, the iPad will be missing important features incorporated into later versions. There have been complaints over the device’s lack of openness and the fact that people will have to buy new versions of software they already own for their computers to make certain documents work.


    There will be more tittering about the lack of a camera, and other things the device is missing — so far, we know it has no USB port, the battery is not replaceable, and the other deficiencies noted above. Apple will, predictably, do a lot to make the next version(s) better and address at least some of the most loudly expressed concerns. It will also, no doubt, anger others who have bought the early version of the iPad and be told that they’ll have to pay again to get a newer one with more features. (A Kindle spokesperson once shrugged and told me that, well, I could just sell my old one on Amazon, and apply that money toward a new Kindle.)

    Meanwhile, there’s speculation that Apple is manipulating their production run in order to create the appearance that demand outstrips supply. It’s been reported, too, that some stores are being sent limited quantities which means, no doubt, lines and a few scrums, all causing more predictably breathless coverage and further spurring demand.

    Whatever the device’s shortcomings or Apple’s market manipulations, though, you can believe that anyone seen gliding their fingers across the screen of their iPad will garner longing glances from those around them.


    And I knew I’d won the bet when Brian decided to help our friends at We Media with their event that will explore how the iPad is going to change the media world as we know it.

    Also, be sure to vote in our poll about how the iPad will change the media industry:

    Dorian Benkoil is consulting sales manager, and has devised marketing strategy for MediaShift. He is SVP at Teeming Media, a strategic media consultancy focused on helping digital media content identify and meet business objectives. He has devised strategies, business models and training programs for websites, social media, blog networks, events companies, startups, publications and TV shows. He Tweets at @dbenk.

    Tagged: apple apps ipad marketing steve jobs tablet
    • It appears you have made a decision without actually trying the product – or did I misread your artcle?

    • L

      Have to say…I disagree. I have apple products…I won’t be purchasing the iPad. Give me an iPad with true computing power, the ability to perform similarly to a wacom tablet…then I’ll be impressed. Touch screen computers are already on the market. Touch screen ipods and phones are already on the market. take those, blend them into an ‘iPad’ and THEN I’ll think it’s a revolutionary hit. Otherwise…it’s yet another cool gadget I won’t purchase due to it’s redundancy.

    • C.A.McCoy

      Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much about something he seems to know precious little about.

    • Dan

      Hmm..$500 can buy a lot more functionality than the iPad. Hell, you could by an XBOX 360 or a PS3 for that much.

      You could buy TWO Netbooks that aren’t locked down to a single app store…that could stream Netflix, browse the web, do word processing…

      There’s not a single damn thing I can’t do on the iPad that I can’t do now with my existing devices.

      I’ll consider an iPad when they eventually drop them down to $199.

    • I think Dorian laid out his reasons for not buying an Ipad very well. It is based on past behavior by Apple, and information given…by Apple, regarding this product.

      Will the product be cool? You bet. Will a product come out 6months to 12 months later that will be better, and have most of the flaws worked out? You bet. Will any of us really lose any productivity by not having the first version of this product? Not many of us will.

      There are too many critical issues (Software/battery/USB) that impact this product and take it from a must have to…”yeah, it’s cool, but it would be better if….”

      Naturally, if and when I get a hold of one, and they have addressed these issues prior to launch, I can be just as happy as a “Fast Follower” vs. the “Early Adopter” I would have been.

    • Everyone, thanks for your comments. To be clear: I was not talking about my personal like or dislike of the product — it was not available when I wrote this. I was giving my strategic perspective on why it was going to be a hit, and saying why I thought despite it being a hit I wouldn’t buy one, predicting what Apple would/wouldn’t do, based on what we knew at the time.

      Or to respond directly:

      @LindsayPowell I couldn’t have tried it. I was predicting. I wrote my piece before the iPad was available.

      @L We don’t actually disagree. I didn’t say the #iPad was great. I said it was a hit. Whether any given individual wants one or not is a separate issue.

    • Jackson

      I really think the iPad concept (as implemented in the current version) hinges around what Dorian describes as Apple’s “ability to bring an ‘experience’ into one’s hands ….”

      What I don’t yet understand is whether the “experience” in this case is truly unique enough to carve out a market niche. The iPod and iPhone found niches in the space for mobile music and smartphones by providing ease-of-use and greater capacity than was widely available at the time. I’m just not sure the iPad can do the same. So far, I think the iPad will be about as successful as the portable 5″ TV/radios of the 1980s that were going to let us “experience” TV beyond the living room. Those devices found a market niche, but I would not say they fundamentally changed our technology culture.

      If looking for a very portable, productive device that “does it all”, I would still go with a netbook. They offer multifunction operating systems, software compatibility, and a keyboard that does not consume screen space. I am curious to see what HP does with its forthcoming tablet. The advertisements so far suggest it will offer much of the functionality that the iPad lacks.

      p.s. This post was written on my iMac.

    • The iPad is a good first step, but I too am waiting for lower prices, better features, 4G/LTE connectivity, and some bend on Apple’s stance for not supporting Flash video.

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