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Feature Tablets

Andrian Georgiev, a reporter from the Bulgarian business newspaper “Capital weekly” wrote an article for which he asked me some questions. My answers are below. The article is available here (Bulgarian).
Q: How many tablets will be sold worldwide this year and in 2012?
A: We can only guess the answer. The total will be constrained by parts shortages for 2011, but my estimate [through the end of 2012] is over 100 million. Perhaps even 120 million is possible.

Q: Do you think Amazon is working on a tablet? Could it be a game-changer?
A: If Amazon (or Facebook or Baidu) were to build a tablet the greatest innovation will be in their business models. In other words how they make money. I suspect Amazon’s hardware will be free or nearly free but users will be incentivized to buy content or other goods from Amazon. Similarly for other businesses that will take a hardware product and make it an accessory to their core business. In that regard the “game will change” because hardware will conform to “the application” above it. In other words, that the device will be an accessory to the service, not the other way around.

Q: Why is it so hard for manufacturers to create a tablet that rivals iPad?
A: The iPad is a collection of components. Some are easy to duplicate or to source. This includes memory, microprocessors, communications components. Other components are harder to find and may be expensive once found. This includes the right kind of batteries and the screen. Yet other components are impossible to find or duplicate. That includes software.

Some additional thoughts:

The changing of the game may not happen for some time. “Feature tablets” (analogous to feature phones) will however be viable as niche businesses quite soon. I believe “conforming” operating systems will be more popular with tablet makers than with phone makers.

Measuring iPad enterprise use

I’ve noticed that there is a lot of speculation on the prospects for iPad use “in the enterprise”. Business users could sure benefit from the device and anecdotal evidence does point to many cases of use in business.

But anecdotes are not conclusive evidence. How can one make a better guess? Based on reader input, I thought I’d test this hypothesis directly on my own stats.

As pointed out a recent posting on my stats, the iPad has been a popular device in accessing this site. 102k out of 1.06m views came from iPad users. A statistically interesting number.

Visualizing iPad vs Mac

The iPad outsold the Mac after two quarters in the market. It’s important to understand the effect the iPad is having on PCs. Data is trickling in that potential notebook buyers are “postponing” purchases due to the iPad. The netbook market has witnessed a significant slowing which has trickled down to the performance of everybody in the value chain, from Microsoft, to PC vendors, Intel, AMD and retailers.

So naturally we need to ask how it has affected the Mac.

The following chart shows how the iPad has outsold the Mac the past quarter.

iPad vs. iPhone: why we got the iPad forecasts wrong

The iPad was announced to a loud chorus of disapproval and disdain. It’s easy to forget the overwhelming scorn and insult poured on the product for months before and after sales start. Analyst forecasts were comical. At this time it looks like all 12 month iPad unit forecasts will have missed by more than 100% (mine included).

As data on iPad performance was published for the first quarter’s sales, the mood swung from ridicule to ridiculous.

Gartner: as a Media Tablet, iPad deserves to be ignored in PC rankings

“Media tablet hype around devices such as the iPad has also affected consumer notebook growth by delaying some PC purchases, especially in the U.S. consumer market. Media tablets don’t replace primary PCs, but they affect PC purchases in many ways,” Ms. Kitagawa said. “At this stage, hype around media tablets has led consumers and the channels to take a ‘wait and see’ approach to buying a new device.”

Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Grew 7.6 Percent in Third Quarter of 2010.

Fascinating. I’d love to hear more about the non-iPad “media tablets” that delayed PC purchases last quarter. Maybe I don’t get out enough.

But more to the point, let’s combine the data from Gartner and the forecast for iPad.

I show below the impact of the iPad on PC vendor sales. I’m using my own estimates of world-wide PC sales (you can see other estimates here (Apple 2.0))

The world-wide PC units shipped without and with iPad:

How many iPads next year? Analyst Sees 45 Million IPads In 2011

The contact, says [Ticonderoga’s] White, shipped more than 6 million parts to Apple during the third quarter of the year and expects to ship 7 million more in the fourth quarter.

Since Apple uses one unit of this particular component in each iPad, that adds up to shipments of 13 million iPads in the second half of 2010. For 2011, the contact believes Apple will sell as many as 45 million iPads

via Analyst Sees 45 Million IPads In 2011, Next Gen IPad Launching Soon – Elizabeth Woyke – Mobilized – Forbes.

These numbers are not unreasonable. I expect about 35 million next year, though that could go up considerably depending on what we hear about last quarter.  We only really have one data point so far meaning the data set is to double in a few days.

Ticonderoga sees over 15 million iPads in 9 months

White contends iPad could be “one of the most coveted gifts” this holiday season; he sees the company selling 7.1 million units in the September 2010 fiscal year, with 19.9 million in 2011, and 25.8 million in 2012.

The analyst said his target is based on 20x his interest expense/income adjusted calendar 2011 pro forma EPS estimate, plus net cash of $49.43 a share.

via Apple: Ticonderoga Starts With Buy, Street-High $430 Target – Tech Trader Daily – Barrons.com.

If Apple hits 5 million in the just ended September quarter

Hewlett-Packard is bundling a tablet with a $399 printer

The bottom line: HP’s decision to bundle a tablet computer with its new $399 printer could make trouble for competitors.

HP’s New Tablet Could Be an iPad Spoiler – BusinessWeek

HP took the control panel display from a printer and made it detachable. The idea, according to the manager in charge, is that this will encourage printing. Printing is a good business for HP because they manage to charge $7500 per gallon of ink.

I suppose there can be some sense to this idea but I don’t use inkjet printers so I can’t judge how popular this can be. But the headline suggestion that the new display panel cum web pad is “an iPad Spoiler” calls into question the author’s motivations. Maybe he did it for a bet.

But the real gem is a quote from Richard Shim an IDC PC analyst who says “Everyone is trying to figure out the opportunity for these types of devices, how to position media tablets in a way that they don’t cannibalize other businesses.”

That’s an interesting comment coming from a PC analyst. It says that the vendors in the industry are already feeling that the iPad is substituting regular PCs (and hence the need for a response that is sustaining not disruptive).

This acknowledgment means it’s only a matter of time before the idea of iPad as PC morphs from crazy talk to conventional wisdom.

Best Buy CEO: iPad Is Cannibalizing Laptop Sales By 50%

The CEO of Best Buy just said the iPad is cannibalizing 50% of the company’s laptop sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.

When consumers walk into Best Buy now, they don’t look at or want laptops, instead they’re drawn to the iPad.

“People are willing to disproportionately spend for these devices because they are becoming so important to their lives,” says CEO Brian Dun.

via Best Buy CEO: iPad Is Cannibalizing Laptop Sales By A Shocking 50%.

It’s proceeding as expected, but much, much more quickly.

My first reaction in January: asymco | First Thoughts on the iPad

A further thought in May: asymco | Will Apple rule the iPad market? (part II)

Where are the iPod touch knockoffs?

The latest iOS numbers and the new iPod touch launch demonstrate what a huge hit the iPod touch has become. It’s safe to assume that about half of all iPods, or between 4 and 5 million units in the current quarter, are sold as touch versions.

The iPod touch has been around about as long as the iPhone. It was launched three months after the first iPhone 2G, almost exactly three years ago. While the iPad has been in the market less than six months, a large number of potential competitors have been launched running Android and there seems to be a real rush to market. Six months is about as quickly as any hardware product can be reasonably engineered.

So the question is why is the iPad being cloned while the iPod has remained in the market by itself?

The value of the iPod is arguably as high with a healthy margin and consistent pricing. The volumes are comparable with tens of millions already sold so there is no obvious economic disadvantage to the iPod vs. iPad. Indeed, the iPod touch is a large (1.6) multiplier to the whole iOS platform. The demographics are very sweet too with a clear upsell opportunity.

One explanation might be that the iPod is a music device and that market has been locked up with iTunes, putting up a huge barrier to entry. However during the music launch this month, there was almost no mention of the iPod touch as a music player while it was loudly touted as a game and app platform. Browsing and Facetime are also huge uses for the device.

So in the iPod touch we have a mini iPad–ironically, the dig at the iPad was that it was nothing more than a large iPod touch.

So if cloners are rushing to copy the iPad, why not its smaller incarnation?