According to a new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, one in four adults in the United States owns a tablet of some kind. Two thirds of those adults have purchased them in the last year, according to the study, which was reported by The Economist. Further, the data doesn’t even include the new Google Nexus tablet, nor the new Kindle Fire HD from Amazon.
Is iPad in trouble? Is this a new era for Apple, one in which it must play catch up? The numbers of units do seem to tell that story.
I’m not buying it, though.
While Steve Jobs famously said that a smaller iPad was stupid, we also know Steve Jobs said a lot of things that he didn’t really mean, usually around a product he was tinkering with in the kitchen at Apple that he wasn’t ready to sign off on, yet. It could be that his dismissal of a smaller iPad mini was more about his readiness to bring such a device to market, rather than his actual hatred of the concept.
Secondly, thanks to some Apple v Samsung court documents, we know how much revenue the iPad brought in over the last couple of years. AllThingsD’s Ina Fried sums it up, nicely, saying, “From the fourth quarter of 2010 through the middle of 2012, Samsung sold 1.4 million Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets, generating $644 million in revenue. Over the same time period, Apple sold 29.7 million iPads, generating $14.8 billion.”
Lets take another look at the data.
We see the difference in tablet ownership between 2011 and now, with Android tablets taking a good run a the iPad ownership numbers, increasing to 48% of tablet ownership. That seems scary. But is it really?
Apple focuses all of its creativity, marketing and engineering, on one product in each category. It has a smartphone, desktop computers, laptop computers, and now tablets. This is not a large consumer electronics company that creates dozens of categories of devices like TVs and refrigerators and washing machines, each with several models to choose from. The release of a smaller iPad is only occurring because the original device, the iPad, is fully matured. When did Apple release new iPods? When the old ones had already completely taken over the market. MP3 players existed before the original iPod, but now we call all MP3 players iPods.
This is the same Apple road map that has been around for quite some time. The iPad mini is coming out because it meets Apple’s timeline, not that of its competitors.
That it will most likely beat them all if it’s priced and marketed well is a different article, entirely.