The First Killer-App-Less Product

Leaving aside the question: Why buy an iPad? comes question 2: Why buy a 10 inch tablet which isn’t an iPad?

The answer to question 2 is: few people will.

HP has taken $100 off the price of its 10 inch tablet and it still sold 15,000 in Europe in July compared to 160,000 iPads.


In the first week of August, HP sold 700 ten inch tablets in Europe; Apple sold 43,000. It’s the same story for other tablets.


The truth is: if you want a ten inch tablet you buy an iPad – there’s no such thing as a ‘ten inch tablet market’, there’s only an iPad market.


Which begs Question 1: Why buy an iPad?


You can toyed with them, fondle them, covet one, but you always think: What’s it for?


An iPhone does everything, and more, what an iPad can do, and sits in your pocket.


Yet iPad owners love it.


This is the killer quality of the iPad – no one needs it, no one talks about its functionality, no one knows why they need it – but they love it.


How on earth can potential rivals compete with a product spec like that?


It’s the first killer-app-less product.



  1. Olie a “sad” companion at that!

  2. I bought my wife an iPAD2 and she said it was really for myself. Within days it was impossible to remove it from her. Why, it is intuitive to use, it is instantly on & off, in a wi-fi hotspot access to the internet and mail is totally transparent and the large screen enables the feature rich content to be used without looking through a magnifying glass.
    It is not a computor or tries to be a computor, the technology is hidden. It is a companion.

  3. Rob would appear to have hit the nail on the head. I have an iPhone and use it for quick reference as I cannot be bothered to wait for my laptop to boot up. I really want an iPad2 purely because it has a bigger screen for web browsing and is “instant on”. Luckily I have less money than sense: so I have managed to resist.
    I guess if you have an Android Phone then you will want an Android Tablet.
    Had HP launched the Palm Phone first and waited, they might have created a market for a Palm Tablet.

  4. Keith, with your decision for an iPad I hope you don’t want to view many Flash websites, as there isn’t much there for you to see other than a warning that it can’t play that media.
    What amazes me is that if people paid a bit more money they can get a Mac Air, more or less the same size, run windows, instant on and none of the iPad drawbacks.

  5. iPhone: calling, texting, -> mobile usage, when on the road
    iMac+timecapsule: the central point where all music, video, photos are stored. The work you do here.
    Then there is the iPad: WHen at the couch watching TV, you want to check things. Always all information at hand. iPhone too small, the iMac requires you to get up from the couch, unfortunately.
    So yes, it makes a whole lot of sense.

  6. Why buy an iPad? Well I haven’t (for me – yet), but then if I were to buy a tablet, I’d probably buy an iPad rather than anything else, as I’ve had an iPhone for getting on for 3 years now. I’ve no idea what apps a HP tablet has.
    Compared to an iPad, the iPhone is really no good at web browsing (have you tried reading the EW web page on one?) as the screen is too small unless I wear glasses. It’s also no good for email either due to the small keyboard. But my iPhone is brilliant for satnav – I use it all the time for this in the UK and Europe. The camera picture quality is poor but I take more pictures with it than with my camera, simply because I always have it with me.
    Where the iPad really scores is the fact that it boots up straight away, can run all day on a charge and is easy to use. So not surprisingly the OH loves hers and hardly uses a PC anymore.

  7. Sounds about right to me, Mr C, we’ll see

  8. Terry – you hit the nail on the head. Trouble is about buying a Galaxy tab – from my knowledge of iPad users – is that next thing the wife wants one, then the kids, then the mother-in-law, so be prepared to dig deep.

  9. Mr M, as I have discovered, the secret will be with the tablet software, Apple OS is at present the best, Android is close but needs a lot more effort for it to be so easy to use as Apple.
    If the software issue is resolved then the use of usb flash memory and the non reliance on iTunes will mean that HP and others will sell their tablets in meaningful quantities.

  10. The Simpsons had it about right with their Mapple store.
    One of the products on sale was a strange white glowing cube – nobody knew what it did but everyone knew they wanted one.
    I didn’t want a tablet until Apple tried to stop me buying a Samsung Galaxy Tab, but suddenly now I want one. Still haven’t got the slightest idea what I’d use it for though.

  11. Can’t get that url to show, [Anonymous] but I assume it refers to all tablets. The post was only about 10 inch tablets which is the only relevant comparison point with iPad. And though I agree that, by all accounts, the Samsung and HP 10 inch tablets are comparable to iPads, it seems that all the cachet is in owning an iPad, and non-iPad 10 inch tablet makers will have to come up with somwething very stunning – in terms of apps, price or look-and-feel to knock it off its perch. And they haven’t.

  12. Some things a 10″ tablet can do that a normal-sized phone can not is show reasonably-sized pictures and allow (relative to screen size) more precise interaction. On my touch phone I often hit the wrong icon with my finger because the icons are small and close together.
    A tablet basically sits between a phone and a laptop PC: It is more portable than a PC (but less so than a phone), it is better for Internet access than a phone (but not as good as a PC), and so on. But taken literally, it can’t do anything that you couldn’t already do with a phone and a PC.
    But that is not so different from smartphones: You can’t do anything with a smartphone that you couldn’t do with a “dumb” phone and a PC. The main advantage is that you might not always need to carry your PC around with you. The tablet is similar: It is (for some things) more convenient than a phone, and if you carry this, you might not need your PC as often.
    I have always thought that smartphones have the wrong form factor for what they do: The screen is simply too small for interaction and you can’t use the screen while talking on the phone (unless you have a headset, which limits the convenience).
    So I expect that we will see people go back to “dumb” phones (smaller and with longer battery life) and supplement these with tablets that are used for the “smart” things you would otherwise do on a smartphone. The “dumb” phone could be used as modem by the tablet (using Bluetooth), so the tablet doesn’t need 3G/4G access directly.

  13. According to ABI, Android collectively has captured 20% of the tablet market ( If you look back on the adoption of Android in handsets, Apple started with a much bigger lead and was easily overtaken by the Android ecosystem.
    HP is probably not the best competitor since they are using their proprietary webOS which has very little developer support. The Galaxy Tab products from Samsung are every bit as good as the iPad (as the European courts) and we have already seen Samsung overtake Apple in smartphones.

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