Who Will Buy an iPad?


Apple iPad

The debate is raging. Man, that’s a wide bezel! How could they possibly leave out support for Flash? Where’s the front-facing video camera? AT&T? Are you serious? Now that the dust has begun to settle on Apple’s announcement of the iPad, though, there’s another nagging question that only time can answer. Who, exactly, will buy an iPad?

Lets face it: Macs fill what is a fairly obvious need. General purpose computing for personal or work reasons–whether web browsing, email, word processing, managing media, buying online–is pervasive, and is a common daily activity for millions and millions of people. The iPhone, first and foremost, is a phone with text messaging, but it is also a portable Internet computer and a gaming device. With the app store, you can make the iPhone and iPod touch what you want them to be. But ultimately, computers and phones have an obvious place in the market. A tablet style computer, not so much, despite Steve Jobs’ attempt to paint a picture to the contrary.

Apple’s 125 Million Customers

The likely market for the iPad consists of several distinct groups of consumers. The first and most obvious is Apple’s existing customers. Apple consistently ranks at the top of industry customer satisfaction surveys, its customers are passionate and loyal, and its ranks for Macs, iPhones and iPods have been growing. In announcing the iPad, Jobs made it very clear that this is a key market for the device. Apple has 125 million customers who have stored their credit cards with Apple, presumably for iTunes purchases. They know, understand, and are comfortable with one-click publishing via the iTunes Store no matter which device they buy from.

Still, if you have a MacBook and an iPhone, do you really need another device, and if yes, does the iPad fit those needs? It is important to remember that despite becoming far more price-competitive in recent years, Apple still plays in the high-end of the markets it addresses. It has no interest in low-cost, low-margin, high-volume products. It prefers higher cost, higher margin products that, while perhaps not scaling like some other companies, are significant businesses nonetheless. That means its 125 million customers either have higher amounts of discretionary income than ordinary consumers, or they simply choose to spend outside their limits for Apple products.

The iPad isn’t necessarily as much about fulfilling an existing need as it is creating desire. Even in a challenging economy, people want Apple’s products, as this week’s financial results clearly demonstrate. The iPhone is far from essential. I can get a cheaper smartphone or traditional mobile for far less and fulfill the need. The iPhone resonates so soundly with customers that they buy it even though it also means higher monthly costs for a data plan. If Apple only got 10 percent of existing customers, or 12.5 million people, to buy an iPad in its first year or two, it’d have a success on its hands.

Retail Store Visitors Who Aren’t Yet Customers

Don’t underestimate the power of Apple’s retail presence to have a major impact on iPad sales. Apple has 283 stores in 10 countries, and welcomed over 50 million visitors to those stores in the last fiscal quarter. Extrapolating a bit, Apple routinely pegs the number of customers in its retail store who are new to Mac at 50 percent. Granted, this includes many iPhone and iPod touch customers who are Windows users, so there is some overlap with the existing customer base identified above. But if you subtract another half, you still have another 12.5 million customers, for a total of 25 million. Because the iPad is less about filling a need and more about creating desire, the retail stores play a key role in customer adoption. Reports from the people who used it in the demo area (alas, I was not one) are very positive. The emotional appeal of the product when people can actually pick it up and use it for 5 or 10 minutes will be huge.

Primary Purpose Users

One of the smartest things about the iPhone design that has been carried over to the iPad is this: despite each device having a primary function, users can make the device whatever they want it to be. Apple is clearly targeting two key user groups with the iPad.

Gamers: The iPhone and iPod touch are very popular game devices, perhaps surprisingly so. The iPad offers similar experiences, but even broader capabilities, primarily due to the screen size. Games were not a big part of Apple’s marketing strategy for the iPhone and iPod touch early on, but they know its being used as a game device. How? Simply by looking at the numbers of game downloads from the iTunes Store. In more recent months, Apple has run several game-specific ads for the two devices. Look for this to increase, and to include the iPad. Imagine the ability to use the iPod touch while you are on road, but the iPad when you get home. Among gamers, who doesn’t want a more immersive gaming experience? Don’t overlook the fact that games played a large part in the demo portion of iPad capabilities.

Readers: Apple has dusted off the iBook brand for its e-book reader embedded in the iPad. The Kindle is the clear market leader in this space, and has the weight of Amazon behind it. But ask yourself, which would you rather have: a single-purpose e-book reader with a (admittedly very good) monochrome screen, or a similar sized, full-color device that does the same thing–perhaps with a more elegant user interface–plus a whole lot more: color, video, photos, and other media in the books themselves, as well as browser, email, calendar, games, and the 140,000 other things from the iTunes App Store? And if you could do that for just $10 more (Kindle DX currently listed at $489, lowest-priced iPad at $499)? No brainer.

The video game market is huge, with likely many non-Mac customers. The e-reader market is not as big, but is likely growing, and the iPad is likely to really juice the market for e-books. Combined, these two markets represent millions and millions of potential customers.


The iPad is light and thin, and supports both Wi-Fi and 3G wireless Internet. As Jobs said, its a mobile device. And though he didn’t come right out and say it, I expect the iPad to become primarily a room-to-room mobile device. I think most iPad buyers will be existing Apple customers. The parents will carry iPhones, the kids iPod touches, and the family will have a laptop or desktop Mac that tends to stay chained to the home office desk and connected to peripherals. So the iPad becomes the device that everyone in the household can use at home when they want a more immersive media experience than the smaller devices allow. The calendar, contacts and notes apps appear to be designed specifically for families. And though the rumored multi-user and sharing features didn’t make it into yesterday’s announcement, my bet is that they appear before the devices ship.


Its often hard for us to remember that there is still a huge percentage of the population that doesn’t make computing a part of their daily lives. Many of them have cheap desktop PCs that they occasionally use for email and shopping, but that’s about it. They don’t have game machines, media center PCs, laptops or smartphones. But one of the reasons they don’t have these things is how they fit their lifestyles. Yet all these people read books, watch TV and movies, listen to music, and more and more, browse the web. I conduct software usability testing for a living, and I come across people like this every single day. The iPad will likely meet most or all of their computing needs, and become their primary computer.

Who Will Buy the iPad? Who Won’t?

The brilliance of the design of the iPhone and iPod Touch–and a key contributor to their success–is the combination of incredibly simple, well-made hardware that doesn’t look like anything but a small rectangular thingamabob. Turn it on, however, and it can do some pretty amazing things. With the SDK and resulting app store, you can turn these devices into anything you want them to be. I know some people who use them almost exclusively as iPods, others as game consoles, others still as business communications tools. The big screen is a great new feature that comes with the iPad. But the hardware is a small part of what the iPad represents, and the software will drive its adoption.



I think the gamers will love it. And, for people that want a descent size screen for the internet. It should go off great for travelers, except that you cannot lock it up.

Other than that they should just create the MacAir into a net-book and lower the price.


I’ve been on every gaming site known to man and the general idea is that this device is complete shit.


I tell you who buy the iPad: people who haven’t yet bought netbooks & have the budget. It’s perfect. I’ve just got a netbook but won’t hesitate to trade it in for iPad when the time comes. And spot on with the family analogy. I’m a mum & techno freakish so this slots perfectly into our lifestyles. I spend cosy moments on the sofa surfing my netbook. The iPad means I can do that comfortably & easier. Bravo!!!


Don’t you think video chat would be an important feature to this new toy?


I do not know what Apple is thinking but it seems they decided to take a fancy iPod Touch device, enlarge it and call it iPad. On the face of it, I think the only difference is that for iPad you need a bag and for iPod Touch your pocket will do.


“I do not know what Apple is thinking”

They are filling a niche with the larger screen.

Try it, they are way, way easier to read from.


Odd result in my family. I am the geek in the family and have a MacBook Air. My wife looked at the Apple marketing video. She is not a power user – her computer use is email, web, a few games. She uses a low power black MacBook. She was the one who was exited!!! Why, she was looking at the Kindle and holding out for the Apple announcement. Her thinking – replace the old MacBook and she can do all that she was doing before and get her books and newspapers etc.
iPad: secondary computer for über users and perhaps a primary computer for a limited number of users like my wife – pictures and all other stuff such as music is loaded on my machine (a.k.a. she who must be obeyed)


You are wrong about the families because the iPad can’t be SHARED:


A living room device but not a family device
I have an iMac and a MacBook. The MacBook (my wife’s handmedown computer) is the living room computer. It is mainly used for browsing the web, checking email and watching vids when the other person is using the telly. The iPad is the perfect replacement but for one weakness: it can’t be shared. My wife and I don’t have the same bookmarks, email accounts and taste in movies or television. At this point the iPad does not seem to allow for multiple account syncing. This means the old Macbook, which is on it’s last legs, will be replaced with another MacBook (which is cheaper than two iPads).


My vision of use for this device in my life is just for casual portable internet use. I can very easily see me propped up in bed doing some surfing or even reading an “iBook”. The big caveat to me… no flash. There are a lot of websites that I use on a regular basis that require flash usage, so until this is sorted out the whole thing becomes a moot issue.

As to some of the other items people have said that it needs I must disagree.
Camera – Na.. I have so many damn cameras in my life and I really don’t think that it is necessary in t his device.


I’m into Macs. In fact I am the lay person who also serves as the technology director for a 18 person all Mac organization. I’m the first one to tout the benefits of Macs over PCs and to convince my friends they should get one. But I have an iPhone, and an iBook, and an iMac. Why do I need this?

The thing that stops the iPhone from replacing my actual computers for primary usage is the same issue the iPad will have- inability to work in Excel & Word (iWork- really, what percentage of the population uses it??) and the inability to connect to a remote server using AFP.

I like reading books made out of paper, and I don’t watch much tv, but when I do it’s on my pretty iMac screen that I don’t need an external dock or to hold up myself. I can always control it using my phone if I so desire.

I also am not sure why some folks don’t see that Apple is a corporation like any other- aiming to get you as much on their platform as possible- with a primary purpose of making money. As such, they don’t warrant the uncritical constant praise that so many fans offer. I don’t see this as a game changer. I see it as a bigger iPod touch, without the camera. I’ll save my $500 for more real books.


After watching all the hype and then the presentation,I’m underwhelmed.

Why would I buy any computer that has to be docked with another computer to live.

Why would anyone want to work with photos on a 9.3 inch glossy screen. It’s hard enough to get it right on a 22 inch screen.

As fat as e books are concerned. I read a lot and library books are $12.99 cheaper than ebooks at the ibook store. I might buy tech ebooks but that’s it and I can read them on one of my Macs


I usually wait until the second generation. But my wife birthday is coming so guess what I will be giving here. Nooo she already have a pink iPod. She will get an iPad. No 3G just the 64GB wi-fi version.


Great article, I think this and Scott Bourne’s recent article (specifically about the iPad for photographers) are great examples of the market that does exist for this device.

I think one of the problems is that a huge target market for this device don’t sit there typing away on internet forums, they are casual users that this device would basically be perfect for.

Also, I can’t help but draw parallels to everyone who said that the iPod was going to be a huge failure (“Who wants to use iTunes”) and that the iPhone was going to fail (“It can’t do anything my phone can’t do!” “Who wants a touch screen”). I think Apple would be quite happy to have the iPad “fail” as horribly as those devices.


How come everyone keeps forgetting students? It’s my first year of college and besides a few textbooks I have printed over 200 pages of material to study from. Most of my studying takes place in my bed or in a coffee shop and that’s where I see the iPad as a great tool for people like me.


admittadly it would be pretty cool to have a 9inch screen instead of my two feet high stack of textbooks, but then again, I’d rather not pay $500 just to have the digital bag that holds them all when my laptop is sitting right here in front of me.


I was completely hoping it’d have IR and camera. The fact that books were going to be transferable, as leaked by the McGraw Hill CEO was also going to be a huge selling point for me. IR would make sense as a device that was everything. Just throwing in Camera, IR, and transferable books, I would’ve bought this iPad 1.0. I think I’ll wait for the second revision with a likely lower price point and IR. Or someone has to invent IR with an app for this thing and iPhone. Also, has anyone considered that the iPad might actually have a camera with that awesome Apple patent for a camera BEING the screen? Maybe this’ll be enabled if it’s there. And transferable books: PLEASE THROW THIS IN APPLE!!! (I see the problem here being that you need to validate that you bought the book. I can see this is where Apple sort of chucked this idea through the window. I cry. I cry.) I’ll wait for 2.0.


If I can resist. It actually seems like something that someone like my mom would really like. I got an iPhone, and after a while, it became irreplaceable. Pretty soon, I sold my phone, and my mom got an iPhone.

Jason R

We fall squarely in the Familes catagory… I think your analysis there is spot-on. We own three apple devices… a 1st gen aluminum iMac which is chained to the desk down stairs, my iPhone 3GS, and my wife’s iPod shuffle. We like the iPad for its use as an electronic household “hub.” Calendars and contacts all int one place, deployed on its kickstand in the kitchen. But also as a device that can be picked up for a more intimate web-browsing/movie watching/book reading experience on the couch etc… We don’t own laptops, so we currently have to go down stairs to get on the iMac for internet use, or try to make do on my iPhone. I suspect we’ll pick up a WiFi-only iPad, and be VERY happy with it. Don’t get me wrong… I’m astounded there’s no iSight camera, and no ability to multitask. I’d love to be able to video chat with folks while sitting on the couch etc… I know if I wait, I can have those capablities in the second generation iPad. But am I willing to wait? I’m guessing no – if I were to pop into a retail store in tw months and play with an iPad. For the price, I’m fairly certain I’ll be walking out with a box in my hand. That said, I have this gut feeling that the resale market for the iPad will be pretty good. That is, I think that I’ll be able to off-load a 1st gen iPad fairly easily and for a decent price. Why? Because I just don’t think a 1 year old iPad is going to feel as “used” as a laptop would/does. I don’t know if I can articulate my thoughts on this clearly.

I really would like to use the iPad as a console to control household items. In this sense, I’d like to see Apple produce home-automation devices that can communicate with the iPad… think energy-usage monitoring, home security, etc… I like this idea a LOT.

Jarrod Bell

Jason: This will be possible with our software as soon as we get our hands on an iPad to make the necessary changes to our iPhone app, CommandFusion iViewer. Apple doesnt have to produce the home automation devices, theres plenty of them out there that can easily be interfaced already with our software.


Right now, with a macbookpro, an iphone or an ipod, people don’t really need this.
Ok, it’s great, and beautiful, and works fine but either people have lot’s of money or they will pass on ipad.
I’m in love with apple products but sometimes they seem to forget that most of the people aren’t as wealthy as they are.
My move would have been a simple, nice and cheap e-reader. With ibookstore and app’s like the one for NYT. That’s all. And pricing it between over 100… People would go for that. But.. 499…
don’t think it will work.

Tom Matthews

You say that Apple forget that not everyone is as rich as they are but you seem to forget what Apple is. Apple is a LUXURY device maker. They make some of the most innovative and amazing products in the world. and to offer some of their most advanced technology for just $499, I think is a great deal. I do admit however that this device fits a market that only some people will fit in at the moment, but I think over time as it becomes adopted by more users it will become useful in it’s own way, personalised to that user. I, for instance plan to take it to college instead of my MacBook, I carry a lot of things around college and I just don’t want my MacBook to be one of them because it’s heavy. The iPad is the perfect replacement and I can then use my MacBook for all the things I can’t do on my iPad.


“Right now, with a macbookpro, an iphone or an ipod, people don’t really need this”….

If you have eyes like Super Man!

A lot of us like reading the larger text without the glasses. This will fill the bill.


If this device did the following, it would have been impressive. 1.Used a real OS that permitted me to modify Excel & Word docs (that’d be shared with PC’s users: iWork is an obscure format in the real world). 2 could have filed transferred easily from my desktop for travel 3. had real connectivity via firewire, ethernet, as well as usb and 4. used flash, THEN it would have been a game changer. At the moment, its’ a game platform.


To be fair, iWork can open Excel & Word docs, and export any of it’s own files in those format. There’s no reason to assume that the iPad version would be any different. If it is, you have a point, but I feel that would be ridiculous to remove one of the key elements of iWork’s functionality.

Who cares about ethernet in this day and age? I haven’t used a physical ethernet cable in over 8 years I don’t think. USB can be done over an adaptor if there’s something you need to sync it with specifically, but I’m drawing a blank

Sorry, the only thing I want from Flash is for it to die, any device that encourage that behaviour makes me happy. The iPhone has done a great job of that

There are legitimate complaints about the iPad, I just don’t necessarily think any of those you listed are relevant.


The ipad can run almost all iphone apps. There are several apps that can open/edit word and excel, Documents to Go is one such.


You are right about families. My wife is looking for a replacement for her dying thinkpad. I own a macbook. Why on earth would we need two full-featured Laptops? Most of the daily stuff she does can be done on the iPad. And if something bigger comes up, I have my Macbook.

On the other hand, my Macbook is connected to a lot of accessories: A second display, a USB Hub with Mouse and Keyboard and an external Hard Drive for Time Machine. If I want to show her something in the kitchen I have to unplug my Macbook and take it to the kitchen and the replug everything again. Thats nuts!
Or in the train. I am commuting a lot. But I don’t want to use my macbook in the train. Its too big, there is no table, I don’t want to hold it on the lap etc.

The iPad is perfect for all these purposes. It’s a no-brainer.

And there is more: Teacher can use it as their note-keeper, with quick text-editing functionaliy or presentation features. etc.

Yeah, USB would be nice, or SD Card slot. But this is first generation. And who needs a cam on this kind of device? Come on. Just think a moment about it how impossible it would be to use that as a digital camera replacement on the go. Or for Videoconferencing, holding it in your hands … for maybe ten seconds. Then you would have to lower it or place it on a table etc. Then the angle would be weird and you could forget the video anyway.

Tom Matthews

I think a lot of people are missing one of the biggest points of the iPad. It’s a netbook that works! and what a netbook! especially considering what it can do, while being extremely fun to use. I am 17 living in the UK and I will be saving up over the next few months so that I will be able to afford a 64GB iPad with WiFi. When I saw the prices, the accessories, the software and OMG, the price! I was in awe. and that steve whatever his name is who was slagging it off was just completely missing the point! I believe that the iPad will dominate the netbook market. A typical netbook cost around £220 – £350, and you get something like a 160GB hard drive, a gig of memory and an Intel Atom processor. With the iPad you get for about £100 more an AMAZING UI, awesome software, awesome hardware, awesome built-in apps, awesome ways to make it whatever you want, an awesome eBook reader (and as was mentioned in the article, a Kindle DX is $10 cheaper than a base iPad) and 16GB of space. Oh and did I mention iWork!

To sum up I think that anyone who buy’s a netbook is insane or just can’t afford a proper notebook. now with the iPad, which I’m sure will get 120GB of storage by the end of the year, those people who would get a netbook can now save for an extra month and get something that will make the =m happier.


The paragraph on “Families” is right on the money. Add a Home Automation app to control your X10/Insteon devices, an infrared link like the L5 to create a universal remote, multitasking/multi-user OS (iPhone 4.0??) and it will be much easier to sell the idea to the wife…


What peaked my interest about the iPad was Numbers. I am a small restaurateur that uses numbers and pages on a regular basis. I have all of my recipe books as well as inventory ordering spreadsheets in numbers and pages. The ability to make forms that an employee can pick up and enter data into is very interesting. Inventory/food temperature readings can be entered fairly easily by a computer novice, which most of my kitchen employees are.

I also use google calendar synced through exchange service to my mobile me. I can see the calendar on this device be of use with my kitchen managers to view upcoming catering order and duties. Of course right now we simply print pieces of paper and enter data manually. But having this device take in data and be synced is really a great idea.

One other idea for this device with numbers is to use it to get customers to sign up to our instore email list. Currently we ask customers to sign up on a piece of paper, well this leads to poor handwriting/data entry errors. I can see this device being an exciting way for customers to sign up to our email list as well us give us demographic data about them as it would be easier to include check boxes and question on that form.

However, as a small business we have a budget and make reasonable expenditures, whether i will include this in my operation is murky. But, being a tech junkie i like to imagine all the different ways i can use a device with this capability.


i really thought it was going to be a full blown independent computer that could either be taken where ever you like or sit on a dock at home connected to a large display and be a full blown desktop experience. its none of that, its a big screen ipod touch. very disappointing. so maybe in the future if apple decides to go that far. but now i’m a happy camper with ipod touch.. and what a awful name :(


“i really thought it was going to be a full blown independent computer that could either be taken where ever you like or sit on a dock at home”

It’s called a laptop!

This is a reader.


Not too crazy about the name – maybe the iphone is the “mini-pad” and the ipad is the “maxi-pad” ;-).

J. Rupp

Who will buy one? I will ! Why ? Because on my iPod, which now holds over 21,000 old songs, I may have as many as 12 or 15 versions of the same tune. On the iPod screen I cannot select a desired rendition because on the menu only the song title is identified. With the iPad the full information about a song will be given the same way as it appears the laptop screen. I need an iPad but IT needs more than 64 gigs of memory, at least 80 gigs.


A small nit to pick about Kindle comparisons: they’re never fair being that the Kindle is wireless (now internationally) and lifetime FREE data transfer is included in that price. The entry-level iPad is wifi only, the data model is more expensive and does NOT include any data plan AFAIK.

Otherwise, I personally believe the iPad will be a hit regardless and its starting price point is probably the most innovative thing about it in the Apple context.


I worked for Apple. Don’t buy first generation of any products. YOU are their guinea pigs for these and YOU will be used to call in to their support in order to make ongoing generations improved. Unless you don’t mind the risk of frustration.

I’m still needing convincing myself. I have a Mac Air, iPhone and iPod. Why would I also need this?


You don’t need to work for Apple to figure this out.

Guinea pigs? Sounds like you have a ax to grind. That is if YOU ever worked at Apple.


I don’t see this eliminating laptops, people will continue to find great need for portable powerful computing. I think the “room-to-room” description is spot on. This is perfect for that “I’m setting here on the couch and want to check IMDB to see what other shows I’ve seen that guy in” moment. It is that impulse, convenience, pick it up and use it device.

I can see us having one of these after a couple of revisions.


The image of lounging around in the sofa with an iPad is very tempting. If I have the funds, why not? Even first timers and newbies would appreciate the portability and accessibility.

When my wife asked what an iPad is, I told her to picture a gigantic iPhone. No phone connection though although there’s Skype.

And yeah, where’s the front facing video camera?


I own an iPhone and bring my Macbook around all the time, and what’s more, I enjoy reading with a real book. I can’t see the missing part now. But iPad may be a good alternative for Macbook Air, especially for females.

Duarte Rodrigues

People have not realized the magnitude of what was created here and the platform for future creations.
The ipad will iliminate the laptops “per se”…nowadays you need a laptp to work, travel etc…With the ipad the laptops desapear, laptops are heavy and big while the ipad, dispite not beeing the smallest around, is small enough…you can work on it as just as good as a laptop…heavier programs you can work with your desktop…It simply iliminates the laptops…this is the future…
Best Regards


I kind of agree with you here to a certain extent. I don’t think it will eliminate laptops completely but I would buy one for my needs over a laptop as a secondary mobile device to my desktop. My iPhone almost does that now with the disadvantage of small screen size.


I’m a big fan of my MacBook, it’s not too heavy or big for traveling. My favorite part about my Macbook and I don’t think very many iPad testers noticed is that: it’s flat. When I’m typing on my MacBook, as I am now, I don’t have to hunch over my to see what I’m typing.


I’m a big fan of my MacBook, it’s not too heavy or big for traveling. My favorite part about my Macbook and I don’t think very many iPad testers noticed is that: it’s flat. When I’m typing on my MacBook, as I am now, I don’t have to hunch over my to see what I’m typing.

Though the concept of the iPad is revolutionary, it can only be thought of as a “toy” like the iTouch, rather than a productive piece, like a traditional laptop because of the keyboard. If everyone were to purchase the dock with it, then it’d make a lot more sense.


Right on….this is huge. I just spent $500 for my son’s college books for the spring semester and I can’t wait until we just have to purchase the right to download them onto something like the Ipad…….so much cheaper and lighter than those books!!!


I’m typing on a laptop right now. I can do homework on it, play games, and do all my computing on its 4 Gigs of ram and 320 gigabytes of storage. It is almost to Desktop replacement specs. I would hate to have the Ipad and a cumbersome, completely immovable desktop that takes a lot of space on teh desk.

But then again, I’m a student, so I don’t have the luxury of having a pretentious toy to tote around until I can get back to my real computer to do some actual work.


I would love to have this mounted in my car. the iphone is too small for that and this is a little larger screen that i would like but it would be amazing to have it at my beck and call for music, gps, etc while traveling.


When i first saw the ipad yesterday i was totally in awe with it. meaning when it comes out the end of march I will be buying the ipad for sure but not the 3g one because of the payments.

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