New York — The Anti-Defamation League’s National Consumer Technology Industry divisio
Some analysts have questioned whether the Apple iPad has a niche in a market where smartphones are commonplace and cellular-equipped netbooks are gaining market share.
I think I’ve found one, and it could reduce demand for 3G-equipped iPads that will be delivered to U.S. consumers who pre-ordered on Friday, April 30, and will be available for sale in Apple retail stores that day at 5:00 p.m.
My take is that Wi-Fi-equipped iPads would be a natural complement to smartphones equipped with a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot. Such phones include the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus from Verizon Wireless and the soon-to-launch 3G/4G HTC-made Evo, due sometime in the summer from Sprint. More hot-spot phones, I’m sure, are in the works.
Wi-Fi-equipped iPads would also complement new smartphones that “tether” wirelessly to a single Wi-Fi device at a time. One of the first such phones is Samsung’s planned Galaxy S Android smartphone, also due sometime this summer. Again, I’m sure more are on the way.
Using a smartphone to connect a Wi-Fi-enabled iPad to the Internet eliminates the need to shell out for a higher-priced iPad with embedded 3G. The price premium is $130 for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB 3G models compared to their Wi-Fi-only counterparts.
Such a combo also eliminates the need to pay for a second wireless subscription (cellphone and iPad), and it gives consumers the opportunity to use an iPad on a wider choice of cellular networks, not just on AT&T.
I see consumers carrying around and using a smaller, more convenient smartphone during most of the day to make calls and access email. When the need arises, consumers could carry their larger, less-convenient iPad with them along with their smartphone, or they could choose to whip it out of a briefcase or knapsack when it makes sense.
On those occasions, if Wi-Fi isn’t available, consumers could use the iPad to download music, movies and e-books, or view longer emails and Web sites on a more eye-friendly screen.
One place where it makes sense is in a car, train or bus, where an iPad’s user interface and large 9.7-inch screen make it easy to email and browse the Web, as I had the occasion to do during a recent vacation. In my case, I linked my Wi-Fi-equipped iPad to Novatel’s pocket-size battery-operated portable MyFi hot spot. The combination worked flawlessly, though in my case, I had to pay for a separate cellular subscription.
On other occasions, consumers would likely use a Wi-Fi-equipped iPad at home to check email, access social-network sites, play downloaded games or watch videos when other screens are in use.
What’s your take on the sales potential of iPads, whether equipped with 3G or not?
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.