Apple just announced that it has sold over 3 million units in just 80 days. That is… remarkable. (It is almost as remarkable as Apple getting over 600,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4. And, no doubt, that number would be even higher if Apple hadn’t run out of the first run.)
As Sir Stevo notes-
People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives. We’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month.
So why is the iPad such a hit? (At least beyond the obvious fact that it is a first generation device that is rock solid and most who try it agree is awesome?) Two main reasons come to mind. And those reasons are… the apps and the user base.
When the iPhone first came out, Steve Jobs was clear that part of what made the iPhone great was its almost complete lack of buttons. While some screamed about the virtual keyboard, Jobs was clear that the lack of a physical keyboard was one of the phone’s features, not a flaw. It was key, he said, because it meant that future developments for use on the device would not be limited by having to work around the physical set up of buttons. In other words, the iPhone was like a Rorschac inkblot that could become almost anything a developer wanted it to be.
And this has proven to be true.
The lack of a keyboard meant that a few enterprising developers found ways to let you hold the iPhone in landscape and, as a result, type on a far larger screen. It also meant that an OS update made this landscape feature global to the device. It meant developers were not limited on the kind, number or placement of a game’s controllers. It was all open and flexible thanks to the controls always being virtual controls. And once OS 2.0 was released, the sky was the limit. Over time the iPhone has become everything from a credit card reader to a flashcard study tool to a GPS. The more creative the developers, the more impressive the iPhone became.
The iPhone is so impressive now that it is hard to remember how apps only came into being by year 2, cut and paste and stereo Bluetooth only came in year 3, and multitasking and folders only came… YESTERDAY. And all because the iPhone was a powerful computing device with few hardware limitations to hamstring it.
The same goes with the iPad. When it was introduced 80 days ago, it was able to run iPhone apps but they were either small or looked horribly pixelated. Yes there were some apps developed specifically for the iPad, but they were somewhat unimpressive. Less than three months later the iPad now has over 11,000 apps designed specifically for it. And as more and more apps come out the iPad becomes more flexible and more powerful than ever. As a result it quickly becomes personalized to you and your needs/uses. Let me explain what I mean by that.
I have a friend who loves using the iPad almost exclusively as a media consumption device. They read eBooks using iBooks, read the NYTimes using the Time’s Editor’s choice app, listen to music using the iPod app or Pandora and watch video using either the video app or the ABC streaming app. They love the device but, really see it and use it in the same manner you might use an iPod touch. AND they are totally satisfied with their purchase.
I, on the other hand, use the device in a host of additional ways. Yes, I use my iPad as a media consumption device — using those type apps and more — but I also use it as a laptop replacement thanks to some amazing apps that have been released. Among the key apps for me are Documents To Go, LogMeIn ignition (for accessing and using my iMac), ToDo, Bento, Dragon Dictation, Evernote and DropBox. Each of these leverage the power of the iPad in a different manner and, thanks to the dearth of buttons the app is limited to the developer’s creativity (and Apple’s heavy handedness of course).
The point is, MY needs for the iPad are different than MY FRIEND’S needs, but thanks to the various apps that are available it serves BOTH our needs equally well.
And as more and more apps are released the iPad becomes more powerful, more flexibly, and more appealing to a larger and larger number of people.
And That Leads Us To The User Base…
I love my iPad. It fulfills the hopes I had for UMPC/Origami devices (which ended us pretty much sucking), it lets me get serious work done on the go in a device that weighs only 1 1/2 pounds, has over 10 hours of runtime, is pretty much always connected thanks to WiFi and 3G, and it even had a GPS for navigation and location awareness. I use it all the time and pretty much take full advantage of its power and utility. And I’ll be so bold as to say that is true for everyone who writes for Gear Diary and has an iPad. We love the thing. That’s saying a whole lot since all of us are pretty hardcore tech users who aren’t easily satisfied with our gadgets preferring, instead, to push them to the limit and highlight the shortcomings. For us to like our iPads as much or more now than we did then is saying a lot.
But tech-geeks don’t make a hit product. Sure, we can help promote a product, but while there are a lot of us who are gadget obsessed there aren’t nearly enough of us to make a product take off and take over. It takes people who are less enthusiastic about, and experienced with, gadgets adopting it to make it take off. And that is exactly what is happening.
The winner of the iPad Judie gave away let me know that she just had a flood and her laptop was fried. She wrote to let me know that she would have been more freaked out, except for the fact that she has the iPad she won and is using it most of the time already. Thing is, she reads the site but is, admittedly, NOT a techie. But there is more…
My father-in-law took an iPad to China with him last month. I made a deal before hand. I bought it and “lent it to him” for the 2 weeks. If he liked it he would buy it from me and if he did not like it I would take it back. It was a no-risk deal for him. And a week into the trip Elana and I got an email from my mother-in-law saying, “He loves this… thing.” They have been back for two weeks or so. I asked him yesterday if he is still using it and he said, “Oh yeah, I’m on it at least once or twice a day and I love it. It is definitely the right device for me.” (Side note, the guy is an engineer but he always had Elana check his email for him- now he can do it himself.)
So that’s one more device… or make that three… and counting.
They went to China with Elana’s Aunt Lynn and Uncle Phil. Phil’s iPad arrives tomorrow. And then we were with family friends for Father’s Day this Sunday, and now at least two of those people are now buying them. And my sister and her kids are coming to the lake for the weekend, and I have NO DOUBT their household will be getting one the week after.
Even Judie’s moms getting into the act. She was trying out Judie’s earlier today and was impressed. No doubt she’ll be the next in line for an iPad… Assuming Judie can find one for her since they are still sold out in her area.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying… the device appeals to Tech-lovers and non-techies alike and, as a result, has the potential to appeal to EVERYONE. It is that universal appeal, and the ability of techies to “sell it” to non-techies who in turn become “iPad ambassadors” that is making the device go viral in a way no prior device has.
Put those two items together- the power of apps to make the device usable to anyone depending on their unique interests and needs and the ability of the device to appeal to everyone from techie to pencil-pusher and what do you get??? Three million sold in 80 days… and counting…
The full release follow…
Apple Sells Three Million iPads in 80 Days
CUPERTINO, California—June 22, 2010—Apple® today announced that it sold its three millionth iPad™ yesterday, just 80 days after its introduction in the US. iPad is a revolutionary and magical product that allows users to connect with their apps, content and the Internet in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.
“People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month.”
Developers have created over 11,000 exciting new apps for iPad that take advantage of its Multi-Touch™ user interface, large screen and high-quality graphics. iPad will run almost all of the more than 225,000 apps on the App Store, including apps already purchased for your iPhone® or iPod touch®.
Users can browse the web, read and send email, enjoy and share photos, watch HD videos, listen to music, play games, read ebooks and much more, all using iPad’s revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface. iPad is 0.5 inches thin and weighs just 1.5 pounds—thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook—and delivers up to 10 hours of battery life.*
*Battery life depends on device settings, usage and other factors. Actual results vary.
Apple ignited the personal computer revolution with the Apple II, then reinvented the personal computer with the Macintosh. Apple continues to lead the industry with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system, and iLife, iWork and professional applications. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced its magical iPad which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.