Not since biblical times has a tablet been introduced with more fanfare.
And with a $499 starting price point, the new iPad device from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is expected to sell millions of units and take aim at the market between handhelds and laptops now populated by netbook computers and e-readers such as Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle.
The device is like a bigger iPhone and shares the same operating system, reports Brad Stone and Jenna Wortham for the New York Times. The half-inch thick device weighs a pound and a half and will feature a 9.7-inch touch screen. The iPad will be available in late March.
The low-end model with W-Fi and 16GB of memory will retail for $499. Versions with 32GB and 64 GB will sell for $599 and $699, respectively. Add another $30 for 3G broadband connectivity, and the most tricked out version is up to $829. Data plans ranging from $14.99 to $29.99 for unlimited data without a contract will also be available through AT&T, as will a new iBooks store.
- Pros of the iPad: It features a variety of applications, according to Michael J. Miller of PC Magazine, including email, web browsing, video, music, maps and, of course, book reading. And, according to Jobs, the device has a battery life of 10 hours, although some reviewers are skeptical.
- Cons: It doesn’t have a camera, isn’t a cell phone and doesn’t support Adobe (ADBE) Flash.
The eagerly anticipated device was introduced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs Wednesday morning. It didn’t take long for Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster to estimate sales of 3-4 million devices in the first 12 months, according to Kasper Jade of AppleInsider. Munster also feels sales will double to 8 million units in 2011 and generate $ 4.6 billion in revenues for the company. Munster has a $280 price target on the stock.
The iPad will compete with Amazon’s Kindle, and some go further, calling it a “Kindle killer,” particularly because of the low price points. Said San Jose Mercury News columnist Chris O’Brien: “Whatever the price, though, my gut reaction was this: ‘Apple may have just killed the netbook market. Let me also add: This is probably a Kindle killer. Sorry, Amazon.'”
Stone of the New York Times disagrees. He said Kindle is more suited for book lovers and feels Amazon will continue to improve the Kindle. He also thinks Amazon will offer lower prices for its e-books than Apple.
Media companies could gain some new life from the product launch. The New York Times demonstrated an application during the unveiling, and Jobs said Apple has inked deals with five major book publishers.
David Wilkerson of MarketWatch.com said newspapers can grow their Internet audiences if they can offer content that takes advantage of the iPad’s technology.
Some investors worried about a sell-the-news effect of the launch, and Apple’s stock price briefly fell below $200 during the first part of Jobs’ presentation. That changed when he unveiled the price tag, and the stock rebounded to close up on the day.
Disclosure: Apple is a holding in the New Economy Leaders Portfolio of The Coolcat Technology Plus Report. The author has no position in any of the companies mentioned.