Will You Buy An iPad?

Apple’s iPad announcement has started a debate that is currently raging in the mobile community about how well the iPad will sell. Another way to frame the debate is, will you buy an iPad? Most surveys I have seen such as the one reported on by cnet show that the majority of people are not interested in buying an iPad. Yet, I think there is a sense that the surveys are skewed because they are being completed by geeks rather than average consumers, and many people think that the iPad will appeal more to consumers.

The problem many have with the iPad is caused by how Apple has positioned the iPad, saying that it fills a gap between the iPhone and Macbook (or PC). Many people disagree that there even is a gap, noting that the iPhone, or whatever is their preferred mobile device, meets their mobile needs, and the PC meets their personal computing needs. If they are sitting on the couch, an iPhone can be used to browse the Internet or read eBooks. Besides, if you want a larger screen for reading eBooks, the Kindle is cheaper, lighter, and backed by an established book store.

I think that those in favor of the iPad are for the most part saying that it doesn’t fill a gap, it is an alternative to a Macbook or PC. The real question is, would Aunt Minney prefer using it for her personal computing needs? While some are convinced that the iPad’s easier computing model will be attractive to those who are overwhelmed by PCs, I am not entirely sure Aunt Minney will find the iPad any easier to use. The problem, I think, is that the PC itself isn’t the problem for Aunt Minnry, its that she doesn’t see the need to send email, browse web sites, or look at pictures on an LCD screen.

The bottom line is that we really won’t know the answers to the questions being raised by the iPad until the iPad starts to ship. I do think the questions are important, not just for mobile computing, but for personal computing as a whole. My personal opinion is that for it to sell a lot of iPads Apple will have to do a lot more to educate the market on how it can be used because it will not be as obvious to people as the iPhone. For the iPad to be successful, I think it needs to be sold not to fill a gap, but to be an alternative to the personal computer because for many people the functionality of the iPad may meet all of their personal computing needs. I am looking forward to seeing how well the iPad sells.