The iPad 2 is selling out all across the US this weekend as demand exceeds supply. No one else has any chance in the current landscape, particularly with Amazon perhaps plotting a free Kindle knockout later this year. All the same, security, or the lack of it, is the elephant in the room in this 'Post PC' age.
As Changewave yesterday confirmed, Apple [AAPL] is a runaway train. Its new product is generating queues all across the USA today. The company's online store now warns of a 2-3 week shipping delay on new iPad 2 sales, up from 2-3 days when the product first went on sale. You don't need a weatherman to know which way this wind blows, Apple's iPad 2 launch is a repeat of last year's launch, but on a far, far larger scale.
Positive experience drives success. No surprise then that it isn't just new customers flopping their plastic down to pick up the 'Pad, over 10,000 original iPad owners traded them for cash in order to buy a new model, according to Gazelle. A second report says one-in-five iPad 2 sales will be made to existing iPad 1 customers.
No one else has an audience like this -- this is people voting with their wallets, not a hype-led circus. Speaking of hype-led circuses, how are Xoom's sales doing? Are they over-, or under-whelming. Guess now, then click here.
It doesn't take too many guesses to surmise that Apple hasn't enough iPads to meet initial US demand. I'm already fairly sure international audiences should be prepared for delays while iPad 2 manufacturing ramps up.
That could even equate to being an opportunity for other tablet makers to corner a slice of the international tablet market, if they only had shipping product at reasonable prices and an App Store as elegant and focused as Apple's own. They don't.
Welcome to an App planet
Beyond specs and features, it is an intuitive user experience and the Apps that make the tablet magic happen. ABI Research figures claim 7.9 billion mobile App downloads took place in 2010, 5.6 billion of these going to Apple devices.
Contrast the App Store with the horrible Android Market. Riddled with malware this is a place in which customers often experience failed purchase and downloads. It's not a happy experience, purchased Apps demand permissions most users haven't a clue on the ramifications of.
This means Android Apps purchasers don't usually want to part with cash, making the platform a little less attractive to developers. The advantage here is you get fewer of those lousy Apps, and the good Apps get to reap the benefits of standing out among the others, at least at present.
I'd challenge that Google has failed to properly comprehend the importance of the App revolution. It thought Android was all about smartphones.
All this could be moot, of course. Amazon is widely expected to offer Amazon Prime members a free Kindle at some point this year, with at least one writer noting the company might widen this franchise. Blogger John Walkenbach thinks it is possible Amazon's electronic book might be free by November 2011. Should Amazon do this then it will achieve two things:
Forrester Research analyst Sara Rotman Epps may have had a slight inkling of this when she pointed to Amazon as Apple's biggest potential future tablet competitor yesterday.
After all, Apple is a direct threat to Amazon in eBooks, the retailer already has a huge congregation of converted consumers, has a brand and a sales channel and -- crucially -- people already trust Amazon with their credit cards. Challenges exist -- should Amazon choose to use the Android Honeycomb OS then all other tablet contenders might be forced to leave the room.
Back in the room, I'm just squeezing in past the analogous elephant that's filling the space. Two important considerations here:
Security, security, security
Putting these last two security considerations together, the risk to iPad users is that Apple will arbitrarily cease to deliver security upgrades to their devices within three years.
Given that consumers aren't necessarily security experts, many may not see the importance of this and may carry on using their devices to swap confidential information. And they'll be at risk.
I suggest that Apple should respond to these concerns by offering a transparent guarantee for user security. Given its anticipated move to offer mobile payments, I think it can expect this year to be characterized by competitors poking at its security record. They won't have to look too far for sticks to beat Apple with.
Apple must respond, or it risks ceding some of the market it has worked so hard -- and so successfully -- to create. Though I doubt the company is too worried yet -- as I've written in the past, Android security is even worse.
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