The iPad and ‘Gen 1’ Products

Posted on: April 3, 2010
Posted in Mobile, Strategy

Love it or hate it, the iPad is poised to essentially lock up the tablet category for a subtle but important reason—the iPad is not a ‘Gen 1’ technology.

Gen 1’ technologies are the term given to products which debut with significant newness—e.g. the original iPhone (both Apple’s first phone and first touch-screen phone).

Gen 1 products often have long slow adoption before ramping for two reasons: (1) the majority of everyday people usually don’t buy Gen 1 products (consider how long it took for normal folks to buy DVR’s after TiVo) and (2) interested smart techies often hold off until ‘Gen 2’, claiming that Gen 1 technologies are way too buggy and immature.

This isn’t happening with the iPad. Both techies and normals are buying it in droves. Why? Because the entire platform— the components, the software, the content, and the ecosystem—are 100% proven. In fact, the platform is so mature that ‘must have’ apps are available on day 1 (Instapaper, native gmail, Kindle, NYTimes etc). It took the iPhone a year to even have an app store.

Why is the iPad’s maturity so significant to tablet dominance? Techies are the early adopters of new technologies. But for a mainstream consumer electronics device category to be truly successful, the everyday folks are the majority who must propel it there. The iPad will have support from both groups from day 1. This is the holy grail for product adoption.

This combination of interest and focused app development will create a powerful network effect and will serve as a halo around Apple’s platform, giving it a massive head start over other would be tablet competitors.

Just to hit this home again, we have a ‘Gen 1’ product (in a new and totally greenfield product category) which has a completely vetted / proven user experience, technology, and ecosystem. That is unheard of!

Consider this: The iPod was years late to the mp3 player party and now completely dominates with 70% share, and cellular phone’s existed for ~20 years prior to the iPhone, and now Apple makes more profit on phones than Nokia.

The sky really is the limit for Apple with the iPad….

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