Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

5 Reasons The iPad Will Fail

While everyone else is falling in love with a product that’s not even released yet, I’m opting to take a more realistic view on the iPad.  I think it’s going to fail.  I don’t see it being 1/10 as successful as the iPhone.  Here’s 5 reasons why it will fail to connect with consumers.

  1. Price: Simply put, it’s too expensive.  Considering you can get nearly ALL of the functionality the iPad has to offer in an iPod Touch, which starts at $199.99, I don’t see many folks opting to upgrade.  Also consider the number of people who already have laptops.  You get infinitely more options on a laptop than you do with an iPad.  This essentially makes the iPad a “treat” or “splurge” item.  Considering the sorry state of the economy, can you see the average family of four spending a minimum of $499.99 for a “nice to have” product?  Me neither.  Lastly, consider all the people with Kindle’s or other eBook readers.  Buying an iPad makes no sense for these folks either.
  2. The Network: The smartest thing Apple could have done was choosing any other cellular provider over AT&T.  Despite all of the uproar over AT&T’s shoddy network, it makes zero sense that they’d choose AT&T.  Can you imagine downloading a 500mb TV show from the iTunes Store over the AT&T Edge network?  Ouch, it would be painful.  But, ok…what’s done is done.  They chose AT&T.  Fine. The next smartest thing they could have done was use a normal SIM card to access the network.  This would have let people who have iPhones simply swap their SIM card from their iPhone, place it into their iPad, and then connect away.  I think this wasn’t done for only one reason.  By choosing an alternative SIM card design you are forced to pay AT&T even more money to access their horrible network.  Bad move.
  3. No Camera: How they missed the boat on this is mind blowing.  The iPad with a built in camera would have been a killer device for people who are frequent travelers (business or personal).  The ability to video chat from such a lightweight and compact device would have made this a must have product for travelers.
  4. No Flash: Say what you want about HTML 5, but not having Flash essentially eliminates the ability to watch over 50% of the meaningful video content on the web.  Hulu is no dice.  Network television sites like ABC.com are no dice.  Entertainment sites like Funny or Die, MetaCafe, and Break.com are no dice.  People want things to work as anticipated.  So when they visit Hulu.com and essentially get a giant fail whale, there will be huge disappointment.  That disappointment will manifest itself into negative peer to peer recommendations.  So much for buzz driving sales.
  5. Walled Garden: I still can’t install apps like Office.  I still can’t install programs like Photoshop.  The ability to create and edit files is limited to the iWork software bundle.  Sure, that would be great…except no one really uses it.  Like it or not Microsoft Office is still king.  When pundits described the iPad as a large iPhone, they weren’t kidding.

The iPad could have been killer.  Instead, it’s about as exciting and will be as successful as the Newton.

UPDATE 4/3/10

This morning I headed over the Mall of America to visit the Easter Bunny.  But, seeing as I had some extra time on my hands, I decided to swing over and check out the “scene” at the Apple Store.  Well, there wasn’t much of a scene.  The Apple Store clearly was anticipating one.  There were two sets of gated lines; one for pre-orders and one for new purchases.  The gates stretched about 200 feet.  I think they were over-prepared.  When I walked by, there were 4 people in the pre-order line and 6 people in the new purchase line.  It took me all of 15 minutes to go from being the 7th person in line to purchasing the iPad for my daughter as an early birthday present.  That kind of “scene” isn’t exactly reminiscent of the iPhone release scene.  It was more like the scene at a 7-11 at 3 in the morning.  Newton, here we come!

  • Rex

    The iPad will outsell the Newton. But in terms of apple betting on a device, it will have the same ending. The ipad will fail relative to apple’s expectations. That’s good enough for me.

  • According to Wired magazine, citing research from Dataquest, “At the height of its popularity, only an estimated 200,000 Newtons were in use.” ( http://re-x.me/dy ) The latest estimates peg the anticipated number of iPads to ship in 2010 at 7 million. ( http://re-x.me/dz ) I think it's fairly safe to suggest you picked the wrong benchmark of success in using the Newton. I'm guessing the iPad will sell more units this weekend than that device sold in its entire history.

    Whenever I'm tempted to write about how Apple will fail at something, I re-read this John Gruber post: http://re-x.me/dA

  • Mark C

    Don't waste your breath, Rex — the guy ain't right bright. Factually speaking, the number of iPads sold on the first day was at least 300,000. The iPhone sold 200,000 the first day, despite this genius' assertion that the stores were half empty and it was “nothing like” the iPhone debut. And yes, 200,000 is also the total number of Newtons sold ALL TIME, which means the iPad probably exceeded it considerably by lunch on opening day. But yeah, it's just like the Newton.

    I realize there are no qualifications for writing a blog, but this guy really takes the cake.

  • Ronin

    I think you're missing the point here. We're not talking about a device that 'would be king' in a category, like the iPhone or iPod. The iPad is trying to create a new category, playing in a pool with laptops, netbooks, smartphones, eReaders, and digital media players. It tries to do a little bit of everything from everyone of those devices, and it honestly doesn't do any of them in a way that is going to sway users to just use the iPad in place of their existing devices. I have absolutely no reason to use the iPad in place of my iPhone or my laptop, nor in concert with those. It's too limited by the O/S to replace my laptop, and it's too big to replace my iPhone. Is the bigger screen nice? Sure, but I'll deal with the smaller iPhone screen based on portability alone.
    I look to something like the HP Slate, or the upcoming Dell as something that could replace my laptop in a competent manner, and that's based simply on O/S alone. so I don't have apps, but I've still got my phone, and I can get actual office work done, yet still have quite a similar experience of the iPad.

    So get hung up on the Newton comment all you like, but in doing so, you're ignoring the bigger picture and marketplace. Apple Zombies will line right up on day one, and the launch numbers are solid, but the broader market is where I think it's going to stumble. The iPhone didn't have the obstacles that the iPad has, and neither did the iPod. It's not a netbook, it's not a phone, not a laptop, and not an iPod, and it's not strong enough to create a new category (perhaps in the future).

  • Hmmm, how do you like the iPad now? Apple iPad Sales Top 1 Million – WSJ.com http://bit.ly/9JgRwE

  • Well, the opening day analyst expectations were 700K. It's been out a month and finally hit 1,000,000. Don't you think that's a fail?

  • Angel

    I can’t believe these posts about the iPad failing are still around!  Makes for a good laugh!

  • joecassara

    Have you come to terms with your failure as an analyst yet?

  • Damien Girard

    Care to revisit this article, maybe share more of your dead-on predictions?

  • Damien Girard

    What are they at now, not even five years after introduction? Just about a quarter billion? God damn, you know what I think is a fail? Your predictions!