Apple iPad Market To Be Small, Niche and Not 3G

By Tara Seals Comments

Guess what? The iPad, Apple Inc.’s shiny new tablet computer, isn’t meant to replace your phone or your laptop. It’s not even really meant to be a 3G device. Its best target functionality might be acting as an augment to existing communications gadgets, in the home, used most likely over Wi-Fi.

After the frenzy that was the Wednesday launch of the device, which is not quite a smartphone, not yet a laptop, some are wondering what the point is. It’s supposed to be better than a netbook, but there’s a lack of Flash support, which means it won’t run some Web sites the way it should, and there’s little online video support other than YouTube. There’s also no camera, no multitasking, no voice support and limited disk space. It runs on the iPhone OS rather than the more open Mac OSX. For a cloud and multimedia-focused gadget, these would seem to be glaring omissions.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Apple’s stock closed down more than 4 percent on Thursday, the day after launch.

“The iPad is an additive,” Jeff Orr, an analyst at ABI Research told xchange in clarification. “It’s not as applicable as a mobile phone every young adult wants to carry with them. It’s not your home computer. It’s for those that say, I have this need to have quick access to things in my lifestyle.”

It will be used for applications like having a common family calendar or phonebook, or bolstering more productivity in home with, say, step-by-step videos in the kitchen. It will sit on a coffee table so that users can pull in notes on the State of the Union address as they watch. It’s about different forms of content publishing from iTunes, he App Store or iBookstore – be it an e-book, magazine, newspaper, or rich media like audio and video.

And with about 30 percent of households in the U.S. using Wi-Fi, he said, it’s likely the target audience for the iPad will be leveraging an 802.11 connection rather than 3G.

In other words, the general message of the iPad is not as a connected device, particularly, but rather as another way to access developer offerings. And conversely, there is now a greater opportunity for the content ecosystem already established by Apple – giving developers a change to reach beyond the 75 million iPod Touch and iPhone users that for now make up Apple’s total available market.

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