Monday, February 15, 2010

Who Is the iPad For?

Michael Leddy has some interesting thoughts on the target market for the iPad. He thinks it's intended for college students. While I think that market - and textbooks - are a significant part of Apple's strategy, I think the iPad (Apple and Steve Jobs) have bigger ambitions. This is Steve Jobs we're talking about here - he doesn't think small!

The simplicity of the interface is targeting casual computer users and those that have been scared off by the complexity of most computers. At the same time, users like myself and Gordon Snyder - who enjoy digging into the minutiae of an operating system - are intrigued by the possibilities of the iPad. I think you're going to see iPad adoption from a much broader audience than just students.

Orange Crate Art: The iPad and college students
the iPad is meant for college students.

Consider the name. For a student who already owns an iPod, the name alone makes the new device sound like a logical next step.

Consider the timing. Coming in late March (Wi-Fi) and April (3G), the iPad looks like a perfect high-school graduation present.

Consider the price. For a family sending a daughter or son to college, the iPad is an attractive alternative to a low-end Windows laptop (and half the price of a MacBook). If the iPad carries an educational discount, it becomes an even more appealing purchase. As e-textbooks become more common, the iPad makes a Kindle superfluous. And an absence of heavy-duty programs poses no problem: a student who needs Excel or Word can always find it (and a printer) in a college computer lab. (Then again, Microsoft could develop an iPad version of Office.)

Consider, finally, posture. As I’ve toyed with the idea of buying an iPad, I’ve been vexed by the question of how I might use the dang thing. I’ve imagined sitting, ankle on knee, with my legs falling asleep. I’ve imagined sitting on tiptoes, so to speak, legs slightly lifted to keep the machine from sliding off my lap. And then it hit me: the iPad is perfect for the posture I see every day in college hallways: sitting on the floor, back to wall, legs extended or pulled up into an inverted V.

And sure enough, the iPad demo shows a sweatshirted, denim-panted male stretched on a sofa, his legs pulled up into an inverted V. He reappears in a chair, his legs pulled up again (propped against a convenient table, I suppose).

The market that the iPad is to conquer: college students. That’s my hunch. (Now let’s see if I’m right.)

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