The iPad problem: where's it going to live?

As an addendum to my thoughts on the iPad...

In my many years as an analyst, I've learned to listen to those faint, intuitive thoughts that pop into my head about new technologies. They may not be rational, and they may not be entirely analytical, but they are often right. You might call it "gut" -- and in my dual jobs of CEO and analyst, it's been quite useful...

Yes, the iPad signals the future of software, but one simple question is nagging at me:

Where's it going to live?

  • It can't go in your pocket, although some may try.
  • It won't go in your media room at home -- you've already got a big screen in that room.
  • It's not going to go on your desktop at work -- you've got a company computer there.
  • It's not going to live in your office at home -- that's where your home computer lives.
  • Will it go in your backpack? I carry my Kindle and my laptop in mine. So will I pull out the Kindle (10 ounces) and replace it with an iPad (24 ounces)? No -- I'm not adding another pound for my aching back to carry around...

Kitchen? Not a place where you'd watch a movie. Bedroom? Yes, you'd read a book there, but you'd rarely check stock quotes or search for coffee shops. 

So where will the iPad reside? That question will fundamentally restrict the new Apple device from becoming a runaway hit like the iPod (250 million units sold) and iPhone (35 million). Forrester has forecasted that Apple will sell 3 million iPads this year. My gut agrees with that conservative number.

What do you think? If you've bought an iPad, where are you using it? If you work for a large corporation, do you have a vision for where it could be deployed in your business? Do you think that iPad could become a laptop replacement? I'd love to get your comments... 


As a mobile device placed

As a mobile device placed between a smartphone and a laptop, I don't think it has a specified "home". I think it might replace laptops as the larger mobile computing device people carry around in situations where content creation isn't a priority—only media consumption, browsing, email, etc.

The top three most common "homes" would probably be on a coffee table, in a messenger bag, or on a desk.

I agree

Nik P I think you hit the nail on the head. It seems that this is already the case. Many people carry their iPhones with them everywhere now and I have noticed a drop in the number of people carrying laptops at Starbucks etc. This might be a coincidence but I doubt it.

Where will an iPad live? Hand to hand, and wherever it was left

I agree with Nik P's comment. An iPad @ home will be passed from hand to hand and left on a table, counter, nightstand or kid's room. It's like asking "Which room should I go to in order to: casually browse the Web, email, Twitter, or [soon] control the video, audio and internet of things @ home?" The answer is: no room: although I can walk to my home office to check a stock price I would rarely do so with a smart phone or iPad in easy reach.

I think Sarah Perez covered it well except for roaming access to Twitter, Facebook and social media - which is the kind of "content creation" that most of folk will handle with the iPad. If you want to write a memo, walk to your home office, but if you want to add a short comment to an item in your corporate E2.0 system use the iPad or whatever falls readily to hand.

Side effect: A lively market for "Where's the iPad?" geomapping and sound & light show displays to find it under the coffee table or kid's bed.

Backpack Dilemma

Dear Mr. Colony:

Thanks for your iPad analysis, and your "gut reaction" follow-up.

While laptop-laden road warriors may balk at adding an iPad (and its extra weight) to their gadget arsenals, it seems to me that for many consumers, the backpack dilemma you describe won't apply.

To a significant extent, iPad adopters will be migrating up from the iPhone and iPod Touch. Instead of choosing whether to slip a 24-ounce iPad or a 10-ounce Kindle alongside their laptops, many will choose the iPad (perhaps supplemented with an external keyboard) in place of both Kindle *and* laptop.

These consumers are comfortable with touch-screen interface, onscreen keyboard, and the App Store model. They use their iPhones and iPods for social networking, texting, email, games and consumption of media such as music and video -- the kind of stuff many other users rely on laptops to get done. (The notion of what Forrester analyst Frank Gillett seems to call The Personal Cloud is second nature to them; they are used to shifting seamlessly from iPhone/iPad to laptop to desktop for content stored and and shared on Facebook, Hulu, Flickr, YouTube and GoogleDocs.)

The challenge for Apple, and for all the hungry developers out there, is to exploit the larger iPad canvas in a way that enhances those activities in compelling ways (and perhaps enables an activity or two we haven't thought of yet). If they do, and I wouldn't bet against Apple on this one, the iPad will find a niche in many backpacks.

For some, I believe it will mean a lighter load, not a heavier one.


Jim Akin

Single device per room. Really?

I'm really surprised that you are assuming only a single device per room. Everyone I know surfs their laptop while watching TV and checks their mobile device while in front of their desktop computer. Not sure why you think that the iPad needs to bump another device from an existing 'slot'. I don't think anyone assumed they needed a iPod in their pocket until it existed.

The iPad seems like the perfect device for casual content consumption and creation from the couch, the kitchen table or the back porch. I see it creating a new slot in the home or office. Maybe even hanging on the wall like a framed picture where it could be easily taken down for interaction.

Where's the iPad going to live?

I can see the iPad as a "control panel" for digital media at home. Using it - for example - in conjunction with Apple's Airport wireless device and AirTunes, you could control music on your stereo or speakers, and other digital content.

I can see the iPad as my leisure companion at night, on weekends, on vacation when lugging my small laptop still has far less appeal. The iPad would provide stellar content consumption services for books, mags, newspapers and keep me connected to social platforms, email, blogging and light computing needs with a capabilities bar that's much higher than a smartphone.

So, I think it sits in my den, in my backback, on my patio...for a start.


One important part of this equation might be in which role one currently find oneself. As a web developer, I can scarcely see an iPad becoming my workhorse, even if it might be my target. On the other hand as I roam through the day away from work, and not currently being a smart-phone owner, I can see it becoming an email companion and map-getter.

As a developer with a such a need in hand, I can see this going to the Little League park to take the place of paper score sheets and team rosters. Your starting second baseman has the mumps? No problem, just touch second base on the screen and a list of possible replacements comes up. Touch a name and the roster is updated and sent to the opponents. So many parents demand equal playing time, so what better way to guarantee it than to touch a kid's name to indicate they are in (or out) the game and letting the computer (where ever it may be) figure out how to balance the playing times.

How about iPad-enabled bowling alleys that not only display the score as the game progresses, but instantly updates league standings and orders trophies (without misspelling your name)? For that matter, perhaps the alley can have your rental shoes and favorite ball ready and waiting for you, with an advertisement from vendors of those products. And the snack bar can get those greasy nachos and fresh beers ready just in time for the seventh frame...

On the coffee table

The iPad is a sit back device, having more in common with a magazine than a PC. And as such will be consumed in a comfy chair, probably whilst sipping a cognac and wearing a smoking jacket.

It is just the beginning ...

George, the current first version of the iPad is a new device and solution - in terms of software and management - concept. That's where the impact is. I do not think it is relevant where it will be used physically and if it will replace some other product right now. We do not know the future, because it will depend on how other devices/concepts are influenced by the iPad. There is certainly a huge opportunity for such a device with people who are neither PC nor PDA literate today. I see it as a huge opportunity in developing countries, as strange as that may sound when most see it as a device for geeks. In combination with Wikipedia (which is only scoffed at by the Universities as it competes as source of knowledge) the iPad (or it's clones) could transform a developing country's schooling system if each teacher would get one.

The power will go up, the price will come down, the weight might too, the back might become a solar panel, the next version will most probably have a video camera. So the most important point is what the iPhone/iPad/AppStore started and not what it is. Steve Ballmer laughed about the iPhone not having a keyboard ... I am sure he is no longer laughing at the iPad!

I am convinced in terms of the business impact for mobile knowledge workers. ECM, CRM and BPM will be driven forward into more interactive, adaptive models. Therefore, we do already have a couple of iPads for our development and we will show our ISIS Papyrus Platform user interface running on this device at our OpenHouse events in Europe and the US in May.
Whatever one can find to say about it - IT REMAINS A FANTASTIC DEVICE. Thanks, Steve (Jobs)! And thank you George for discussing it again.

iPad on the ktichen table to replace newspapers

In my house, the iPad would live on the kitchen table, across which is usually scattered today's newspaper. Unread sections of the Sunday newspaper are there, too, though some have migrated to a chair. After a few days, they'll find their way to the recycling bin, where I'll helplessly try to retrieve some prematurely discarded section. I would use the iPad to eliminate this mess.

In fact, I could imagine that The Boston Globe, NY Times and other newspapers will subsidize my purchase of an iPad in exchange for a commitment to a 2-year subscription, the same way the mobile phone carriers do. Not only would I have more space on my kitchen table, but I could read whichever paper I wanted to over breakfast, stop calling in "vacation stops & starts" and requests to replace wet newspapers, and forgo the trek to the end of my driveway to pull the The Globe out of a snowbank.

On the Starbucks' Coffee Table

This is a real story. Once upon a time, an elderly woman got tired of being a house-wife 24 hours a day, and decided to use her -not so ample assets- on stock trading. She bought a SONY desktop and started to venture on this new business. She found it a good method of avoiding growing old, being always connected with the real world, and started to study in earnest, Now and then, she learnt to reap profits from her activities. On such occasions she would pay a few percent of her earnings by having a cup of coffee at Starbucks and peek into her iPhone. But old age crept in, and she found iPhone’s pinch-to-zoom display an inadequate way of viewing the charts at the coffee shop. Then iPad appeared. Though she found it a bit heavy, she realized it was one of the lightest personal computer she could carry in her handbag. She also found the economic news were updated real time with iPad in bright readable characters. For her, iPad was good for her eyes and rendered her a vivid satisfaction of the transaction she made today. In the handbag as a mobile computer, and on the coffee table as a reconfirmation of her successful transaction, and as a welcome reading companion for her cup of Starbucks coffee and occasional usage of YouTube, iPad is the source of her youthfulness and vitality.