(Image courtesy of www.redmondpie.com)
No matter what you think of the recently announced Apple iPad, it's clear that no other company gets the attention Apple gets when announcing a new product. For Apple, this is generally a good thing. But, they need to make sure they get everything right: the product itself as well as the product positioning.
When it comes to the iPad, they got the product right, but they botched the positioning a bit.
The iPad is a Kindle killer, no doubt about it. In June, 2009, I paid $489 for my Kindle Dx. The Kindle Dx is roughly the same formfactor as the iPad, which starts at $499 . However, the Kindle Dx can't hold a candle to the iPad. The Kindle can't play video, doesn't have a color screen, can't run apps, and can barely (and I mean BARELY) browse the web. No bones about it, Apple did just as Steve jobs said in his presentation. They stood on Amazon's shoulders and took the Kindle Dx form factor to much higher heights. Had Apple stuck with this positioning, is there any way the iPad could lose? Now, the Kindle does come with always-on 3G and no monthly fee. But, for $629 and $14.99/month, most prospective iPad users would still say there is no competition; the iPad is the better play.
The mistake Apple made: asserting that geeks will be able to replace their netbooks with iPads. This is clearly not going to happen. This assertion reminded me of when Steve said he replaced his high-end audio system with the failed Apple Hi-Fi. No way. Netbooks are cheaper, they run Windows, Linux, and some even run Max OSX illegally. Users can choose what apps run on them, and they can multi-task, though usually to their detriment. Why fight this battle? Let the netbooks run their course.
So, the bottom line is pretty clear. Apple should have positioned the iPad as a revolutionary device that builds in the initial success of the base eReader. It adds rich multi-media capabilities, gaming, app-store access, and it can even help you get work done in a pinch. For some, with the added keyboard dock, it can even serve as their complete mobile computing solution.
Strangely, I have not heard anyone complain about the fact that the Kindle Dx can not multi-task, has a worthless browser, and can only run apps that Amazon allows it to run. Apple is re-discovering that it's tough to be on top. Shouldn't they have learned this from their 1980's experience?