Fast Company

Are Apple's Competitors Trolling the iPad?

ipadWith oddly simultaneous timing, a number of Apple's competitors have made bold statements alleging the iPad is poor in certain ways, not suited for particular uses, or even doomed to fail. You could be forgiven for thinking they're running interference because of fear. We marshall the evidence here.

Dell

Speaking to CIO Australia Dell's global marketing head (for large companies and public organizations) Andy Lark revealed his thoughts about the iPad. He "couldn't be happier" Apple's forged a whole new market, and has "done a really nice job" with a "great product." But Lark thinks Apple has a huge challenge ahead and "Android is outpacing them" because ultimately "open, capable and affordable will win, not closed, high price and proprietary."

Then Lark highlighted what he thinks is Apple's pricing and enterprise problem. "Apple is great if you've got a lot of money and live on an island. It's not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex" he suggests, implying that iPads won't work in a business environment. Then comes the cost: "An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case" will reach "$1,500 to $1,600; that's double of what you're paying," meaning it's too expensive for a business.

But that's just wrong. Why would you need a mouse with an iPad--hasn't Lark ever used one to realize its entire OS is touch-based? Gadget owners will also point out that no matter what device you buy, be it a Dell or an Apple, you'll need a case. Plus, the iPad case is just $40 and the plug-in keyboard unit is just $70--add in a $500 Wi-Fi iPad and you get to $610 or around $1,000 less than Lark suggests. 

HP

Speaking in an interview on Monday, HP's SVP of the Americas Solution Partners Organization Stephen DeWitt dissed Apple's enterprise business future: Its "relationship with partners is transactional, completely. Apple doesn't have an inclusive philosophy of partner capabilities and that's just absurd." DeWitt thinks HP's upcoming webOS efforts will "bring new partners to us because we are getting into the application space, which involves muscles that we haven't exercised in some time"--implying the firm will be delivering an enterprise support ecosystem that'll appeal to business more than Apple's efforts do.

DeWitt seems to be ignoring some recent efforts by Apple to address its business clients with its Joint Venture business Genius solution--a system that is aimed specifically at addressing technological issues inside enterprise customers, and even includes visits from JV Genius's to business addresses.

Microsoft

Ten years ago Bill Gates championed a new format of laptop PC he dubbed a tablet, driven by an adjusted version of Windows that relied on a stylus for touchscreen entry and which could be ideal for educational or business uses. The devices, a slight variation on standard Windows-based laptops, did sell but never really transformed the market. That all changed when the iPad arrived, spurring an entire new market and selling by the millions.

Now a Microsoft exec, the global chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie, has suggested the tablet PC game that Apple's inspired may be short-lived. "Mobile is something that you want to use while you're moving, and portable is something that you move and then use" he notes, remarking that "these [two uses] are going to bump into one another a little bit and so today you can see tablets and pads and other things that are starting to live in the space in between. Personally I don't know whether that space will be a persistent one or not." 

Mundie's theory is that the technology of smartphones could rapidly advance to make tablets irrelevant--despite MS's own theories about the future of mobile computing. Does this explain why MS seems to have been pretty slow in embracing the current touchscreen tablet genre with a touch-friendly makeover for Windows. 

Apple rolling ahead

Independent to all this seeming anti-Apple press, which conspiracy theorists may consider to have curiously coordinated timing, Apple's device just rolls on and analysts have estimated the firm has sold between 5 and 8.8 million units in the first quarter of 2011 alone. Considering that the international roll-out of the iPad 2 only began last week, these figures could easily be topped in the second quarter (assuming Apple's supply chain can cope). Some analysts have even increased their estimates for Apple's EPS figure--up a dollar to $23.25 for 2011.

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Read More: Most Innovative Companies: Apple and Microsoft.

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4 Comments

  • fred gonce

    After having talked to hundreds of iPad users, many people are adding to to their computer bag in additional to their notebook and not replacing their notebook. Most of the users I talk to still need their notebook for medium to heavy content creation.

    In order to support the iPad in the enterprise, corporate IT is having to standup additional infrastructure to support using the iPad to provide access to corporate applications. So the $1600 is actually overly conservative numbers for deploying an iPad in the enterprise.

    Since the Dell article was intended for IT executives and management, they already understand the cost of hardware is only part of the expense associated with an enterprise solution.

  • Stuart Bogue

    I believe the $1500-$1600 figure included the iPad,the word "with" being key in creating this impression.

  • Neil Taggart

    Kit, they're all making valid points, albeit with some sour sauce thrown in. The iPad is not even truly mobile: the first thing you need to do when you switch it on is hook it up to a mac/PC to sync it with iTunes (so the cost is even higher than the Dell guy said: you actually need a whole computer!).

    The key comment is that "open, capable and affordable will win, not closed,... and proprietary" (I actually think iPad is reasonably priced). Microsoft were so proprietary with Windows that their antithesis/nemesis (linux) had to be built by hobbyists for free. Linux is now the kernel of Android.

    Apple are winning now, but the point is: how *sustainable* is a closed business model in an open, connected world? Successful, yes, but for how long?

  • Todd Papke

    Too bad you don't know anything about the iPad - We own three and have yet to synch with iTunes on anything. They run fine and we install apps and music from the device itself. As far as mobile - they're all 3G and more than capable of connecting to the internet just about anywhere. Maybe you should stick with the guys who tried to put people off by saying it was just a "big iPod touch".