Apple has often dismissed the possibility the company should compete with low-cost netbook computers, saying the popular devices are ‘junk.’ When rumors of Apple making a tablet computer appeared, focus was on ebooks and publishing. But will the iPad turn out to be Apple’s answer to those pesky netbooks? One highly-placed supplier thinks the iPad could outsell netbooks.
With a $499 starting price, the iPad could “achieve annual sales of 10 million units, which is a significant estimate considering the current tablet PC market is only about 3 million a year,” said Paul Peng, executive vice-president of AU Optronics’ global business unit. AUO makes LCD displays.
The only factor that could cut into iPad sales is if a component shortage appears. That’s already a possibility, as more companies are talking to Peng about similar displays.
Although Apple’s tablet is not as cheap as a $300 netbook, Steve Jobs seems to be hoping to attract the same sort of buyer. The advantage of netbooks is that they allow you to have multiple computers; you can leave your more powerful computer at the office, go home and surf the Web on a netbook, or you can pop a netbook in your baggage the way you’d stick an extra pair of socks. When Apple introduced the iPad, it stressed it was designed to be shared by a family, where dad could look up stocks in the morning, mom could check out an exercise video in the afternoon and kids can review their textbooks at night.
However, the iPad may not be able to compete with Amazon’s Kindle for consumers who only want to read. LCD displays are not as comfortable for extending reading, AUO CEO and president LJ Chen said.