Today's the day the new iPad goes on sale and we will all be watching the statistics for the first weekend. Last year, the original iPad Apple sold 300,000 units. This time, because of the momentum and the increased number of retail outlets, analyst are predicting up to double that number.
Market researchers IDC disclosed earlier this week that Apple took 83 percent of the market in 2010, with some competition from the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but they expect the iPad to retain as much as 80% of sales in 2011. If this turns out to be true it will be a staggering achievement in the face of what is shaping up to be a perfect storm of camp followers.
It seems to me that competitors have four main worries to address:
- Produce a tablet that is demonstrably better than the iPad.
- Match or undercut the iPad price.
- Establish an application eco-system to rival Apple's.
- Provide the same level of sales and after-sales support enjoyed by Apple customers.
Of the four, the last is the most difficult. Some would say it is impossible. It's not only the Apple brand, which is now arguably the strongest in the tech world, that drives customers to the iPad. It's the vast number of Apple Stores throughout the world where customers can buy, discuss, learn and come back for service. This is unique and I cannot imagine any competitor being able to reproduce a similar network.
When we are looking at specifications, performance and, even, price, we cannot ignore the importance of Apple's near-universal presence. In a post-PC world, Apple stores are places where people go to buy, to learn and to interact with other users. You can't put a price on that.