I Predict 2010: Apple Will Win
Remember Apple vs. Microsoft? Yeah, me neither. I mean, personal computer wars are so 2002. The real competition has moved on—to Apple vs. Google (iPhone vs. Nexus One, iAds vs. Adwords, etc.), Apple vs. Adobe (HTML5 vs. Flash), Apple vs. Nintendo (gaming devices), etc.
With the launch of the iPad, there’s now Apple vs. Sony/HP/Amazon and every other ebook/tablet PC maker. A leaked HP comparison chart shows how HP views their Slate stacking up against the iPad.
I haven’t heard much of it yet, but I predict the Apple iPad backlash is soon to begin. And it’ll be driven by two types of people: 1) people who really want an iPad and can’t afford it (like me) so they’re frustrated and want to take their frustration out on someone (in this case, Apple); and 2) competitors of Apple who believe they have a superior product and want to try and convince everyone of that fact.
Here’s the problem, competitors: The game is already over. Apple is already winning, and, I predict, Apple will win. Why? It’s simple: Apple was the first to market with their elegant, well-designed, well-marketed device. They’ve gained huge market share, and once they have market share (like they did with iPod and iPhone) now developers have to create for the iPad first and the rest of the market has to follow. Every other device will be compared to the iPad, and the first question will be, “But is it as cool as the iPad?” (Answer: No. Impossible. No other company/brand has the cache of Apple.)
Apple has figured out what other companies haven’t seemed to figure out: Be the first out of the gate, get the farthest out ahead of the competition, and the race is over.
I don’t doubt there are superior devices being produced that’ll soon be coming out (or are already out), and those devices will sell thousands of units as well. But the iPad will dominate, because it’s already gone very far, very fast.
People will argue that Apple is creating a repugnant “closed” environment, that the iPad isn’t “open” enough. That forcing everyone to purchase through the iBookstore and iTunes is “bad for the Internet.” That people should rebel against this monopoly that should be antithetical to Apple’s own hippy dippy Cupertino culture.
And there’s merit to all of those arguments. But in the final analysis, none of that really matters. The vast majority of users just want a product that is sexy and cool (a status symbol), that works right out of the box, that is simple to setup and use. We’re really willing to pay more for such a device and pay more for content and applications for such a device.
Sorry, competitors, your device may have more great features (e.g., flexibility of expanding memory, what-have-you) and it may even be cheaper (which should be key in a down economy, right?), but no, you lose.
One caveat: The only thing that could stop the iPad from dominating in the same way and to the same degree as iPod and iPhone is if there’s an Achille’s heal, e.g., a fatal hardware flaw in the device that causes these things to spontaneously catch on fire or electrocute people or some other freak thing. Apple can still blame a third party manufacturer for whichever part is to blame, but it’ll kill the device itself and erase all the gains it’s already made in the market. That’s the only I can see bringing down Apple at this point.
What do you think? Please leave me a comment if you have an opinion on Apple, the iPad, or business. Surely you know more than I do, so please set me straight!
Photo by Steve Mays