Other Mobile Devices

Apple: 3 Million iPads in 80 Days

The iPad is on fire. This morning Apple announced that it had sold its three millionth iPad in the space of 80 days:

Apple today announced that it sold its three millionth iPad yesterday, just 80 days after its introduction in the US. iPad is a revolutionary and magical product that allows users to connect with their apps, content and the Internet in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before . . .

Developers have created over 11,000 exciting new apps for iPad that take advantage of its Multi-Touch user interface, large screen and high-quality graphics. iPad will run almost all of the more than 225,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone or iPod touch . . .

Before its introduction there were many skeptics who doubted the viability of the tablet category and whether people would want the iPad in particular. Now hardware OEMs are scrambling to develop an answer to the iPad and eBook Readers are dropping in price to remain commercially viable.  

By the end of 2010, when there will be Android tablets in the market, Apple will probably have sold at least 8 million iPads on a global basis. It wouldn't be a stretch to predict 10 million sold globally. 

Android, iPad Grow in Latest 'Mobile Mix' Report

Mobile ad network Millennial Media is now putting out two reports on a regular basis: one about mobile advertising (SMART) on its network and the other about devices (Mobile Mix) on its network. Consistent with other networks and data vendors in the market, Millennial has seen considerable Android growth. But the iPad is also growing dramatically.

According to Millennial:

  • Android requests grew 15% month-over-month, and have now grown 338% since January.
  • The Apple OS remained the leading operating system on the Millennial network, but it had a month-over-month decrease of nearly 14%
  • iPad requests grew 160% month-over-month
  • For individual manufacturers, HTC received the largest share increase month-over month for the second consecutive month

Below are some of the report's charts, showing the hierarchy of devices and operating systems on Millennial's network. In addition, the company shows the percentage breakdown of developers working on the various smartphone operating systems.

Picture 8

Picture 7

Picture 9

Compare AdMob's most recent mobile metrics report (April, 2010) in terms of devices and operating systems on its network:

 Picture 11

Other than the iPhone and the top three Android phones, there's a different array of devices on both lists. The top Android device on Millennial's list, the Nexus One, doesn't event show up on the AdMob list. The AdMob list shows no RIM devices among the top group, whereas the BlackBerry Curve is the number two phone over at Millennial. 

Comparing operating system share on the network also reflects the differences between Millennial and AdMob. Below is AdMob's US operating system share graph for April:

Picture 12

Millennial (top four):

  • iPhone: 48%
  • RIM: 19%
  • Android: 15%
  • Other: 8%

AdMob (top four):

  • Android: 46%
  • iPhone: 38%
  • RIM: 9%
  • Palm: 3% 

Each of these company specific reports needs to be taken with some caveats and caution. The discrepancies and differences between the networks illustrate this. However, both companies show similar trends: the growth of Android handsets, which makes sense give how many there now are, and the rise of the iPad (AdMob discussed that last month).

iPad Ad Metrics: Novelty or the Start of Something?

There's already been much discussion of some early advertising metrics on the iPad. The following results were published a couple of days ago by ad mediator AdMarvel (owned by Opera), TextPlus and PointRoll (owned by publisher Gannett):

Campaigns that ran the first four weeks after the iPad launch delivered average interaction times across advertisers of 30 seconds, and as high as 53 seconds for one advertiser. Time spent with each ad correlated with the amount of content included in the ads.

In addition, interaction rates (measuring the number of people tapping to expand and engaging with the ads, as a percentage of impressions) ranged from .9% to 1.5% in the first month of the campaign, up to 6 times the benchmark for comparable click-to-expand ads on the desktop. In addition, 67% of users who viewed a video component of the ad in the app watched it all the way through, compared to 53% completion rate for desktop. These findings show that the iPad can be a successful supplement to a 360-degree campaign across devices to strengthen and further lift audience engagement.

(Emphasis added; see ad demo.)

Dynamic Logic and Insight Express have both shown that mobile ads consistently outperform PC advertising across a wide range of metrics and brand indicators. The question of course is whether the increased engagement and metrics are the byproduct of novelty or whether these platforms are going to consistently deliver better performance over time. 

Some of this better performance is clearly novelty but other factors such as less ad clutter and greater "share of voice" on pages make for higher engagement and improved response. Websites on the PC or "fixed" Internet have become a veritable wasteland of clutter and low quality ad content. That's partly why Apple's Safari 5 enables users to eliminate ads from the page.

Even as the Internet has fragmented audiences and eroded if not destroyed some traditional media (e.g., newspapers), online advertising, with the exception of search and one or two other areas, has largely failed. 

The iPad is not a PC, nor is it really a mobile device in the same form as a smartphone. It's more of a portable PC with apps. We still don't  have enough data to know how people use and will use the iPad and its many forthcoming rivals. In my house it has taken time from PC exposure but it's much more a "leisure" or "lean back" device than the PC, which is mostly utilitarian. 

If that use case holds generally for tablets it could be that people will be more receptive to display and rich media ads on them vs. the PC. 

News Corp. Buys Hearst's eReader 'Platform' Skiff

Last year Hearst's Skiff project was one of at least 15 or 20 eReaders coming to market. When it was announced it was conceived of as an integrated package of hardware and software:

Skiff, formerly known as FirstPaper, specializes in the delivery and presentation of newspaper and magazine content, as opposed to other platforms that focus primarily on e-books and plain text. Newspaper and magazine content delivered by Skiff will feature visually appealing layouts, high-resolution graphics, rich typography and dynamic updates . . .

Skiff is working with major consumer electronics manufacturers to integrate Skiff’s service, digital store and specialized client software into a range of innovative devices, the first of which will be unveiled soon . . .

Skiff has signed a multi-year agreement with Sprint (NYSE:S) to provide 3G connectivity for Skiff’s dedicated e-reading devices in the United States. Plans are underway to have Skiff readers available for purchase in more than 1,000 Sprint retail locations across the U.S., as well as online at www.sprint.com. Additional distribution channels will be announced next year.

But that was before the iPad. Today News Corporation announced that it had bought Skiff from Hearst for an undisclosed amount:

News Corporation today announced that it has acquired Skiff, LLC, Hearst Corporation’s e-reading platform designed to deliver premium journalism to tablets, smartphones, e- readers and netbooks. The Company also announced an investment in Journalism Online LLC, the venture dedicated to enabling newspapers, magazines and online-only publishers of quality content to collect revenue from their online readers. The financial terms of both agreements were not disclosed.

Why did Hearst sell? Perhaps because it didn't think it could compete in the devices market. EReader maker IRex recently filed for bankruptcy citing disappointing sales. 

Now it appears that Skiff will become, exclusively, a software platform for News Corp content distribution on a range of devices. There was no mention of hardware in the News Corp. release.

Just as with the smartphone market we may see three or four tablet platforms that are viable: iOS, Android, Kindle (maybe), WebOS/HP (maybe) and Windows 7 (maybe). Most aspiring eReader devices will diversify or fully evolve into software platforms or apps -- e.g. Kindle for iOS, Nook for iPad and now Skiff. 

Google Brings Nav to More Countries, Maps to GM, Upstart App Offers Free Nav to iPhone

Google is making its mobile Navigation app available in more countries, throughout Europe: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland. It's voice guided and offers voice search. In a related development, Google expanded the number of European languages for Google Voice Search. 

Google's free Navigation (which works well) has not yet come to the iPhone, whether for technical or competitive reasons. However a new free app from Berlin-Germany based Skobbler offers free turn by turn navigation on the iPhone. I haven't used it so can't comment on its quality. It uses OpenStreetMap for base data. 

Finally, Google Maps are now a part of GM's OnStar functionality. Users can email directions from PC-based Google Maps to select GM cars. Ford has also integrated Google Maps into its Sync system and will allow users to send directions to Sync from the PC or smartphones. Sync was co-developed with Microsoft so I would expect comparable functionality for Bing. 

AdMob Introduces New iPad Ad Formats

Not waiting or wanting to be upstaged by the launch of iAds, Google-owned AdMob is introducing new ad formats for the iPad. These new formats include text, tile and image ads. The company will also be rolling out interactive HTML5 ads in the near future:

AdMob was one of the first companies to launch ad units for both iPhone and Android applications, and now we’re helping to drive innovation on the iPad. We consider today’s launch of text & tile and image ads for iPad native apps to just be the starting point.  We’re always thinking about what’s next and working to leverage the unique capabilities of mobile platforms to create engaging ad experiences.  With that in mind, we’ve put together a sneak preview of the creative potential of iPad ads using HTML5.

AdMob put together what a mock up of what such an ad might look like:

Picture 5

While digital creative has a way to go, though is improving, for smartphones, agencies and marketers' creative efforts may really shine on the larger screen and accompanying formats made possible by the iPad. 

Picture 7

Wired's iPad Launch a Reasonable Start

Wired magazine launched on the iPad about a week ago and I just got around to paying the $4.99 "cover price." The company reported about 24,000 downloads in the first 24 hours. It's currently the second most popular paid app, so I'd guess the downloads have nearly doubled by now.

Wired sells about 82,000 single copies per issue, according to one of the Wired blogs. The print magazine has about 672,000 subscribers.

There are a number of innovative elements in the iPad version of the magazine; however in general it felt as though the company had merely scanned the pages into the digital format. Indeed, the overall translation of Wired to the iPad was relatively uninspired.

I was also struck by how many ad pages there were. In order to "work," ads on the iPad will need to be more thoughtful and compelling than simply electronic versions of the print ad. A few ads did have video. 

Below I've highlighted some of the interactive elements of the Wired iPad app:

Picture 28

It would be relatively easy for Wired's iPad edition to exceed newsstand single copy sales in a short period of time. However the company can and should do more in later issues to take advantage of the digital format, interactive features and video capability.

I think Time did a better job with its iPad launch. 

____

Related: Adobe reveals magazine iPad-izer software

Apple: We Sold 2M iPads in 60 Days

Over the weekend, numerous stories appeared of people excitedly queuing in London or Toyko to get their hands on the iPad. This morning Apple put out a press release that said the company has now cross the two-million devices sold threshold:

Apple® today announced that iPad™ sales have topped two million in less than 60 days since its launch on April 3. Apple began shipping iPad in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK this past weekend. iPad will be available in nine more countries in July and additional countries later this year . . .

Developers have created over 5,000 exciting new apps for iPad that take advantage of its Multi-Touch user interface, large screen and high-quality graphics. iPad will run almost all of the more than 200,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone® or iPod touch®.

The various Windows Mobile and Android rivals are just starting to come into the market. The promising ASUS Eee Pad (tablet with docking keyboard) won't be out until next year apparently. But there will be dozens of Android tablets hitting the shelves by the end of this year or early next year.

The two primary ways that they'll compete with the iPad is with Flash and on price. For example the One Laptop Per Child initiative will now become an Android tablet, selling for a hypothetical price of $75.

If we start to see Android tablets selling for $100 or $200 they will become very successful. Indeed, as Apple occupies the "premium" segment of the tablet market, Android tablet OEMs will probably be compelled to compete on price -- pushing them ever lower. 

Apple Reaches Million iPad Milestone

I previously argued that once Apple reached a million iPads that would be a "psychologically significant" milestone; it would show that there was finally a market for tablets and the clone wars would also begin. Last week Chitika estimated that more than a million iPads had been sold and today Apple confirmed it in a press release:

Apple® today announced that it sold its one millionth iPad™ on Friday, just 28 days after its introduction on April 3. iPad users have already downloaded over 12 million apps from the App Store and over 1.5 million ebooks from the new iBookstore . . . Developers have created over 5,000 exciting new apps for iPad that take advantage of its Multi-Touch user interface, large screen and high-quality graphics. iPad will run almost all of the more than 200,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone® or iPod touch®. 

The only viable iPad challengers at the moment are probably as-yet-unreleased Android tablets (the rumor is that a Google tablet is imminent). HP is developing the Windows 7 Slate (which will likely fail) and may have decided to kill the project after announcing the acquisition of WebOS maker Palm. That remains unconfirmed. WebOS can also be the basis for a viable Slate offering. 

The presence or absence of Flash is unlikely to be a determinative factor in the success or failure of any of these devices. Regardless, now that the iPad has crossed the one-million threshold, it's "game on" for this new computing platform. 

___

Related: Apple's iPad 3G estimated to have sold 300K on launch weekend

Estimate: Over a Million iPads Sold

Ad network Chitika estimates that more than a million iPads have been sold to date in the US, with almost 20% in California. New York is the next largest iPad market with just over 8% of iPad sales. 

If it's all true, a threshold has been crossed and the "tablet market" is established. When the iPad reaches Europe -- and when the 3G version goes on sale at the end of this month -- we'll probably see a couple million more go out the door in relatively short order. 

On to something of a paradox. The iPad has, in my opinion, made apps even more important and cemented their position in the "mobile" ecosystem. The debate of apps vs. mobile Web is now over; both will co-exist. The mobile Web will not "win" as many had bet -- seeing apps as a kind of transitional market.

This is a paradox because, as a mobile device of sorts, the iPad offers a much better Internet experience than can a smartphone, including the iPhone. So why do you need apps? (Perhaps it's better to call the iPad a portable device rather than a mobile device -- because people won't be using it "on the go" in the same way as a smartphone.) However once you experience them, iPad apps, such as the Wall Street Journal, NY Times or USAToday, present a dramatically better experience vs. their respective sites on the Internet. This is and will also be true for magazines and other types of publications, if they choose to build apps.

Because of the primacy of apps, it's unlikely that tablet devices without them or without access to them (other than eReaders) will enjoy much success in the market. A tablet version of a Windows 7 machine, the HP Slate for example, will simply be a handicapped netbook without a keyboard. 

It's possible that Adobe or Microsoft could make Flash or Silverlight-based apps that work across other tablets, bringing a version of the "app store" experience to those devices. We'll see. 

In my month or so with the iPad I find that it's very much a hybrid experience: more pure Internet than the iPhone but much less Internet than the PC. Where there are apps I use them first. I "resort" to the Internet where apps don't exist. 

In-Car Voice Control of Mobile Apps from Ford

Ford has been hyping SYNC (developed with Microsoft) in TV spots for months. But now comes a new feature that ties the voice services of Sync to smartphone apps, called SYNC AppLink. It is currently compatible with BlackBerry and Android phones. It allows voice control of smartphone apps through the in-car system, after a software download.

The sure-to-be popular 2011 Fiesta is the first Ford car to enable this but it will be rolled out to other Ford vehciles and smartphone platforms, including presumably the iPhone in the next model year. According to the release:

The Android Market and BlackBerry App World are among the leading growth markets for mobile apps. The new SYNC AppLink will seamlessly integrate apps using the vehicle's voice and user interface controls, including buttons on the steering wheel, increasing eyes-on-the-road and hands-on-the-wheel time.

The first SYNC-enabled apps available later this year include Pandora internet radio, Stitcher "smart radio" and Orangatame's OpenBeak app for Twitter, with additional apps on the way. Updated versions of each app, incorporating the SYNC application programming interface (API), will be available through Android Market and BlackBerry App World for customers to download.

I haven't used SYNC but this is a pretty compelling extension of its capabilities. Here's a video demo of it working on the Fiesta with the Pandora and Stitcher apps:

 Picture 72

Part of the consumer proposition here is about safety: hands free operation of an access to the phone. Companies like Zoomsafer and Vlingo are also working that arena with voice search, although Zoomsafer has a more complete offering. But SYNC Applink is a more comprehensive capability that extends to entertainment. 

Ford is making a big bet that SYNC will be a differentiator for consumers and for some it certainly will. More broadly SYNC and Applink should help mainstream in-car voice services over the next two years.

I won't get into too much speculation about this but widespread adoption of this type of capability would create a potentially big new market for certain categories of apps and in particular Internet radio, which could become very disruptive. 

Is the iPad a Phone Too?

Here's a scenario to consider: iPad 3G with unlimited data from AT&T and VoIP as the ultimate all-in-one mobile device. Could that replace a traditional mobile phone and voice + data plan? There are a number of VoIP apps on the iPhone, which also work on the iPad. However the $30 unlimited data plan from AT&T is only available for the iPad.

That effectively means a user could get all the functionality -- arguably better functionality -- that the iPhone offers on the iPad with unlimited calling (and data) for just $30 per month. Of course people who own the iPad also own mobile phones (indeed smartphones) and so they aren't going likely to think of the iPad as a money saving opportunity.

However the availability of data-only pricing from AT&T (and T-Mobile) and/or a MiFi device suggests that we're entering a period when very soon people will find alternatives to traditional carrier voice services. That becomes even more true if video conferencing (via Skype) becomes feasible on the iPhone and iPad.

For the first time in 2009 data traffic/usage surpassed voice traffic/usage on a global basis. However voice revenues remain quite a bit greater than data revenues, even though for some carries they are approaching 50% according to Chetan Sharma.

But there's a parallel to landline penetration here. Over time, voice revenues for wireless carriers will decline just as landlines are disappearing. With the rise of smartphones data revenues are going up and so are the options for users who want workarounds or alternatives to traditional carrier voice services. 

Apple by the Numbers

Here are the numbers Apple released during its iPhone OS 4 event yesterday . . .

iPad numbers:

  • iPads sold to date: 450,000
  • iBook downloads to date; 600,000
  • iPad apps download: 3.5 million
  • iPad apps: 3,500

iPhone/iPod Touch (85 million devices):

  • Apps downloaded: 4 billion
  • Total apps: 185,000
  • iPhones sold: 50 million
  • iPod Touch devices sold: 35 million

Mobile browser usage (Net Applications Feb data):

  • iPhone: 64%
  • Android: 19%
  • BlackBerry: 9%
  • Other: 8%

Lenovo Contemplating Palm Purchase on the Eve of iPhone 4.0 and Project Pink's Debut

Spring has sprung and industry thoughts naturally turn to mobile operating systems. Just a day before Apple's "sneak peak" at OS 4.0 (which is expected, at a minimum, to add multi-tasking and improved ways to handle and display mobile advertising), Microsoft indicated that it is ready to launch its long-awaited mobile phone/media player combo, called "Project Pink". While everyone was distracted by these developments, a group of investors bid up Palm Inc.'s stock price, fueled by speculation that Chinese OEM, ODM and laptop aficionado Lenovo has eyes on the WebOS prize. Before day's end on Wednesday, Palm's stock price jumped 20% to $4.62 per share.

Given Lenovo's distribution channels and reputation for making and supporting the ThinkPad line of laptop and mobile computers, the prospective acquisition would be a good move for both parties. Although it's early in the game, Apple's iPad has, at a minimum, sparked heightened interest in the mobile tablet as a complement, substitute or replacement for netbooks and laptops. What's more, the iPhone's new operating system is expected to be just as important in its role is software platform for the iPad as well.

Lenovo has proven to be a great steward for ThinkPad, a brand and product line it acquired from IBM in 2004. At the time ThinkPad got high marks for industrial design and product innovations, even though it was never going to be a monster money maker for Big Blue. Palm is a little different. Both the Pre and Pixi have failed to capture market share in the smart phone market, where they have suffered from a certain lack of support in the carriers' retail channel. Meager sales all but destroyed WebOS's prospects to rival alternative smartphone application platforms, especially the iPhone and Android OSes. Its appeal was predicated on its ability to run a multiplicity of applications designed for predominant standards and quasi-standards, like HTML5, Java and Flash. At a minimum, it could have given Windows Phone and RIM's Blackberry an interesting run for their money.

As a standalone, single-product company, Palm is just too small to take on and capture share versus Apple, Google, Microsoft and RIM. Lenovo has a chance to integrate Palm's smartphones and the WebOS into a coherent set of complementary products spanning desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones. Even if the acquisition turns out to be "only a rumor", it is a tantalizing one.

iPad Restores Brand Lustre to Time Magazine

Last night I purchased a copy of the Time magazine iPad app (at $4.99) because I wanted to see what the venerable but declining publication would look like on the new device. I was pleased to see a version of the magazine that looked more like a magazine than the PC version, yet used the dynamic capabilities of the iPad to do some interesting things with formatting, navigation and ads.

The larger and more visual nature of the magazine on the iPad makes it very different than reading or skimming Time online. It "brings out the brand" and restores some of the lustre of Time the once iconic news publication. Online, Time is more or less "just another news site" in a flat universe of endless news sites and aggregators.

The iPad version is something quite different, as I suspected it would be. 

Picture 117Picture 118Picture 121

Advertising on the device offers a wide range of interesting possibilities . . . 

Picture 124

The striking thing is how visual it is. The pages of the Time app are "magazine-like," with large images, pull quotes and graphics -- not compressed as on the PC. By contrast the "Editors Choice" NY Times app is, to use the vernacular, "lame" because it was no doubt quickly done and without much imagination. This is truly a new medium, as different from the iPhone as it is the PC Internet, and it needs to be approached accordingly.

We'll see how many iPads sold (estimates are 700K so far) and whether the device becomes mainstream (with a price cut it will). But if it does have momentum and it is a success the iPad will mark the beginning of a new period of "personal computing" and "mobile advertising." 

_____

Related: Netbook Sales Sag as the iPad Arrives and Some New iPad Owners Say Device is a Kindle Replacement

First iPad Apps Arrive Ahead of Hardware

As has been reported, the first iPad apps showed up late yesterday in the iTunes store. I haven't bothered to try and count but the Wall Street Journal says there are 2,300 at launch. As expected, many of the paid apps cost more on average than on the iPhone -- larger device, larger price. 

Since people don't have these new devices yet in their hands, we don't know exactly how they'll be used in different or similar ways vs. the iPhone/iPod Touch. While people have repeatedly said that the iPad is like a big iPod Touch, that description fails to appreciate that there will be a range of new use cases here -- especially for the enterprise and business users -- and it will "diverge" from iPod Touch use cases fairly quickly. 

Given the generally (very) positive reviews we can assume the device will go on to be a success. It probably won't be a "mainstream" success until the price comes down somewhat, following the pattern of the iPhone. Like the iPhone also the iPad will probably represent the beginning of a new phase of computing. 

But how will these devices be used and what types of apps will really succeed here? They won't be used like smartphones in most cases, but neither will they be used just like laptops. They will travel with people but they mostly won't be used "on the go," though perhaps in the car by kids in the back seat. 

In this very preliminary moment I imagine the iPad as a reader and media/entertainment device (books, news and video). It will also likely emerge as a supreme (catalog) shopping platform I would imagine -- NearbyNow's Scott Dunlap discussed with me yesterday some of his company's efforts in that direction for the iPad -- and as a phenomenal platform for magazine publishers and their equivalents. 

I also suspect that many people will have these in the kitchen over time, with all the implications that conjure up: quick Internet search, weather, news, recipes, video, VoIP calling and so on. There will also likely be a wider range of uses for this device than the iPhone. The immediate "killer app" however is Netflix -- Pandora to a much lesser degree here than on the iPhone. 

It will be fascinating a year or two from now to look back. Will the iPad have created the kind of impact on the market that the iPhone did? My belief is yes but we'll see. 

Meanwhile Flurry Analytics shows that develop interest in the iPad continues to grow:

For reference, we compare this to pre-iPad ratios to demonstrate how much developer interest the Apple iPad is attracting. Specifically, we compare averages taken across 2009 vs. the last 60 days, pulled earlier this week.

Picture 97
One of the less recognized strategic benefits for Apple of the iPad (and its probable success) is that it keeps more developers and development resources tied up with the iPhone OS -- less bandwidth to develop for competing platforms. Appcelerator and Rhomobile: get cracking. 

We can expect to see Android/ChromeOS-based imitators of the iPad (with Flash) come out in fairly short order. The HP Windows 7 slate device (absent an aggressive price point) will likely fail. But Asus has announced a device and there will be others later this year and early next year. 

Google, for example, was going to put out a cloud-only netbook by end of year in time for Xmas shopping. I suspect the strategy will shift somewhat now, both among hardware OEMs and at Google, in the same way that the original Android prototypes looked like BlackBerry phones but post-iPhone adopted the iPhone's full touch-screen form factor. 

____

Related: Apple's list of iPad-ready sites (read: HTML5 video in place). 

iPad Early Review Consensus: "It's a Winner"

There are the fanboys, the indifferent and, as Sarah Palin might describe them, the "haters." Those categories probably capture the "polarized" camps -- to use David Pogue's word -- surrounding the iPad, which becomes available this weekend. Many were expecting it to flop as an expensive new toy that was seemingly unnecessary and lacked features (e.g., Flash).

However the customary early reviews are in and they praise the device with some reservations. The NY Times' David Pogue "cops out" and writes effectively two reviews, one praising the device and one for its geek-detractors who lament the absence of hardware features. 

Here are the major reviews and some excerpts . . .

Mossberg/WSJ:

So I’ve been using my test iPad heavily day and night, instead of my trusty laptops most of the time. As I got deeper into it, I found the iPad a pleasure to use, and had less and less interest in cracking open my heavier ThinkPad or MacBook. I probably used the laptops about 20% as often as normal, reserving them mainly for writing or editing longer documents, or viewing Web videos in Adobe’s (ADBE) Flash technology, which the iPad doesn’t support, despite its wide popularity online.

My verdict is that, while it has compromises and drawbacks, the iPad can indeed replace a laptop for most data communication, content consumption and even limited content creation, a lot of the time. But it all depends on how you use your computer.

David Pogue/NY Times  (the detractor):

The bottom line is that you can get a laptop for much less money — with a full keyboard, DVD drive, U.S.B. jacks, camera-card slot, camera, the works. Besides: If you’ve already got a laptop and a smartphone, who’s going to carry around a third machine?

David Pogue/NY Times (the fan):

The iPad is so fast and light, the multitouch screen so bright and responsive, the software so easy to navigate, that it really does qualify as a new category of gadget. Some have suggested that it might make a good goof-proof computer for technophobes, the aged and the young; they’re absolutely right.

And the techies are right about another thing: the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it — books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience — and a deeply satisfying one.

The bottom line is that the iPad has been designed and built by a bunch of perfectionists. If you like the concept, you’ll love the machine.

USAToday (Ed Baig):

The first iPad is a winner. It stacks up as a formidable electronic-reader rival for Amazon's Kindle. It gives portable game machines from Nintendo and Sony a run for their money. At the very least, the iPad will likely drum up mass-market interest in tablet computing in ways that longtime tablet visionary and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates could only dream of. 

Chicago Sun-Times:

After a week with the iPad, I’m convinced that it can do damned-near anything I’d use a notebook for. I’m leaving tomorrow for a few days in New York and I plan on leaving my notebook behind. I’m using the iPad as my sole computer. 

Netflix streaming will also be available on the iPad at launch, which wil give a huge "mainstream" boost to the device. The fence-sitters will likely be out this weekend at Apple and BestBuy stores trying to get a "hands on" look or to actually buy one. It's likely that whatever inventory exists at these stores will sell out and we'll see a press release to that effect on Monday. We'll see. 

We're also likely to see the clones arrive en masse now as Apple establishes tablets as a legitimate category for computing. 

AdMob Metrics Offer Preview of Market Future

AdMob put out its February data early this morning. Among the things its shows -- as an indication of future industry trends -- is:

  • The growth of smartphones as a percentage of the market
  • The growth of Android in particular
  • The growth of non-phone Internet devices (MIDs)

First it must be repeated that the data AdMob gathers is from its network and it does not represent an objective view of the mobile Internet as a whole. Still the trends are going to be broadly consistent with the mobile market and Internet more generally.

To that end, I see several things that are interesting about where the market is headed. First: the overall traffic trends on the AdMob network; smartphone share growing (48%), so is the share of MIDs: 

 Picture 210

Smartphones are now approaching 20% of the installed user base in the US. Smartphones and quasi-smartphones will likely come to be dominant (51%) in 3-5 years. In terms of MIDs, here's what AdMob says:

The mobile Internet devices category experienced the strongest growth of the three, increasing to account for 17% of traffic in AdMob’s network in February 2010.  The iPod touch is responsible for 93% of this traffic; other devices include the Sony PSP and Nintendo DSi. In absolute terms, mobile Internet device category traffic increased 403%.

If the iPod Touch is the proof of concept, the iPad will spur growth in this category. There are probably going to be 10 relatively high profile tablet devices in the market. All of them will offer browsers (ultimately) and fall into this MID category. The iPad is likely to be the leader but we'll see.

The challenge with these tablets is how to count and account for them. Are they like laptops without the physical keyboard or are they more like smartphones? Do ads on the iPad, for example, count as "mobile" or will they be counted as Internet ads? It will probably depend on whether the ad is in-app or mobile Web. Even then there will be new ad units for these devices. The use cases for MIDs/tablets will be varied and interesting to watch develop. 

Here's market share data for February 2010 and immediate below AdMob data from a year ago:

 Picture 213

Picture 212

Here's the breakdown:

  • Nokia/Symbian global share: 43% (2/09) 18% (2/10)
  • iPhone OS: 33% (2/09) 50% (2/10)
  • Android:  02% (2/09) 24% (2/10)
  • RIM: 10% (2/09) 04% (2/10)

Among other things what these data show is a three or four way race for smartphone dominance among iPhone, Android, RIM (in the US) and Nokia (internationally). Look in particular at the traffic declines for Nokia, as a percentage of overall AdMob traffic. Palm is dead unless there's a miracle of some sort. And the new Windows (7) Phone isn't out so we can't assess its prospects yet.

Survey: 15% 'Seriously Considering' Buying iPad

Another iPad-related consumer survey: this time comScore has just come out with data from a poll of 2,176 US adults, conducted earlier this month, about interest in the iPad and purchase intent. The survey shows the same levels of aided awareness for the iPad and Kindle; and, interestingly, it shows that 6% of respondents have purchased a Kindle while 1% report purchasing an iPad.

In the next three months, the survey reports, 14% of respondents are "seriously considering" buying the Kindle and 15% of respondents are considering the iPad. Here's some discussion of the findings from the release:

Consumers were asked several questions regarding their awareness of various e-readers and tablet devices and their past purchase behavior or intent to purchase these devices. The results showed very high awareness of the iPad out of the gate, with an aided awareness of 65 percent, the same as that of the Amazon Kindle e-reader. Overall, consumers have demonstrated a high level of interest in these types of devices with between 58 percent and 69 percent of consumers having conducted online research of the top five devices. Amazon Kindle rated highest in terms of current device ownership at 6 percent of all Internet users, followed by Sony Reader at 4 percent. The iPad rated highest in terms of consumers seriously considering purchase over the next three months at 15 percent of Internet users, with the Kindle at 14 percent.

As the quoted passage above reflects -- and perhaps the most striking numbers in this survey -- 66% and 69% of users said they had conducted online research about the iPad and Kindle respectively. If those numbers can be extrapolated at all it means that there's potentially substantial demand that could be unlocked if the iPad turns out to be at all worthwhile.

Here are a few additional findings (verbatim from the release):

  • Male and female survey participants had nearly identical favorability around the choice of the name “iPad” In the case of both genders, approximately 49 percent had a positive impression of the name, 27 percent were indifferent, and 24 percent had a negative impression.
  • While ownership of an iPhone or iPod Touch was a strong predictor of those who have already ordered an iPad, it was not a strong predictor of purchase intent. 3 percent of iOwners had already purchased the iPad compared to 1 percent of non-iOwners, but 15 percent of each consumer segment indicated an intention to purchase the device in the next three months.
  • iOwners had significantly higher awareness of the iPad than non-iOwners, with 84 percent of iOwners having heard of the iPad compared to 61 percent of non-iOwners. 22 percent of iOwners also indicated they had seen an iPad commercial on TV compared to just 12 percent of non-iOwners.
  • The most important device attributes (top 2 boxes on a 7-point scale) that consumers indicated they would like to have included in the iPad were: ability to use multiple applications/programs at once (43 percent), having a screen the same size as a laptop or desktop computer (37 percent) and having a built-in camera (34 percent). Among iOwners, the percentages were substantially higher at 56, 66 and 51 percent, respectively.

Picture 191

Below are the stated usage intentions. People appear to be, at least at this stage, less interested in this device as a gaming platform than as an Internet and email device, as well as a media pad for consuming magazines, newspapers, video and music. 

Picture 192

Last week the Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources for the proposition that Apple had already sold "hundreds of thousands" of iPad units. I suppose the truth will out. 

HP Slate Readying iPad Attack: 'The Full Web'

Adobe is in full damage-control mode as it seeks to convince the world that Apple and not Flash is the true pariah in the new world of mobile computing. In the first new imagery since its introduction by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at CES, HP and Adobe present the forthcoming HP slate device and demonstrate how it provides users with access to the "full Web and not just a part of it" -- as opposed to Apple's "incomplete" Web capability.

Notice in the video below, which is a "preview of Flash player and [Adobe] Air on HP's slate device," the repeated indirect critical references to the iPad without the mention of Apple or its anti-Flash devices:

Picture 76

My belief is that the iPad will be a success and devices that merely reproduce the PC experience on a slate without a keyboard will fail because they're a weaker version of a laptop -- that is unless they're very cheap.