Apple’s new product announcements never make much sense at the time they are made. It takes a while for people to understand the ramifications of the technology being introduced and the shakedowns that will ensue. The iPad announcement may well have been the paradigmatic enigmatic announcement. The stock has tanked, and everyone is talking about the announcement being “underwhelming”, but Apple’s competitors are shaking in fear because they can see the carnage coming. Here is a short list of products or industries that will soon be laid to waste by the iPad. In no particular order, these are the products, corporations or industries that could be eradicated by iPad’s success.
- The Kindle DX Without a doubt, the first product to die will be Amazon’s Kindle DX, the larger kindle model with a color screen designed for viewing textbooks. For the same price as the Kindle DX, the iPad offers a complete computer capable of viewing textbooks with a far richer content, word processing, games, music, photos and countless heretofore unheard of new applications. The iPad will run Amazon’s Kindle and Stanza apps, on top of all this. So, Amazon was wise to hedge its bets with its iPhone apps. In essence, Amazon was well aware of the inevitable.
- Portable Game Players If the iPhone and iPod touch failed to obviate the need for small game consoles like Nintendo DS and Playstation Player, then iPad positively will. The iPad promises graphics and action that rival those presently available only on powerful desktop computers. So, why compromise excitement for the sake of mobility? Sure, there will be many holdouts who like the little pocket devices, but the kids will want an iPad, and parents and game enthusiasts will abandon the little devices in droves.
- Amazon Kindle Subscription Service As the New York Times’ presence at the Apple announcement on Wednesday showed, the iPad offers publishers infinitely more flexibility than the Kindle does. Publishers are free to offer something as simple as a web subscription, and everyone with an iPad (which has a full browser) will be able to take advantage of it. People with Kindles will not. Furthermore, publishers will have the ability to offer their own subscription services or product lines through an app over which they can exercise complete control over appearance, behavior and content. Amazon’s Kindle service is not as accommodating of publishers. The Kindle limits publishers to formats that Amazon defines. Publishers will have no incentive to stay with Amazon. They will abandon it in droves, and the Kindle subscription services is thus assured of a quick and untimely death, unless Amazon can reconfigure the service. Oddly enough, the Sony reader may survive because it is not tied down to any one distribution channel the way the Kindle is.
- Windows Tablet The most shocking revelation in the iPad announcement was the fact that Apple rewrote its iWork productivity suite to be fully functional on the iPad. iWork on the iPad was a demonstration of how Apple’s grand designs for the iPad were vastly more ambitious than any pundit, prognosticator or Wall Street analyst expected. Apple is announcing that it is beating Microsoft and Google to the mobile computing platform with a fully functional mobile computer that runs a proven and battle tested mobile platform (iPhone OS) and that is ready to do everything out of the box before any of these guys even leave the gate. Oh, yes, indeed. The carnage could be far bigger and far uglier than anyone expected.
And, the folks at Wired.com seem to agree, though they use slightly less explicit language.
Of course, the basic premise that people will want to do their computing with hand gestures on a thin, mobile tablet that has amazing computing capabilities may turn out to be false, but Apple’s experiences with mobile devices so far would imply otherwise.
It will be interesting to see who still stands after the iPad earthquake and all of its aftershocks because the landscape will change completely.