iPad’s destructive reach extends further faster
The iPad’s destructive reach seems to be extending further and faster. Apple’s tablet is taking off at a breakneck rate. Analysts now predict up to 40 million will be sold in 2011. With personal incomes and spending stagnant, it’s looking like a zero-sum game in consumer electronics. Forget PCs and netbooks. The iPad will eat into camera and GPS device sales too.
How well the touch-screen gadget is really doing will become clear later this month when Apple reports its next set of quarterly results. But there are growing signs the company is selling way more of them than anyone outside Apple, or maybe even among Steve Jobs’ inner circle, had been anticipating. It’s clear the mini notebook computer market is being throttled. Netbook unit sales had been growing at more than 30 percent annually before the iPad was unleashed. Sales are now shrinking, according to market research firm NPD Group.
But the volume of iPad sales means there will be more victims. Early adopters of new consumer electronics typically have plenty of disposable income or spend a lot on gizmos, or both. The iPad is showing signs of extending beyond this base. It looks on track to become the fastest adopted consumer good ever. And that’s really saying something considering the competition includes the ubiquitous DVD player, and Apple’s own hyper-popular iPod and iPhone.
With so many iPads flying off the shelves, however, it’s more than likely they’re not just being purchased by the well-heeled and the geeks. Instead, a wider array of consumers is probably spending its money on iPads instead of other gadgets. Sanford Bernstein analysts have noticed, for example, that digital camera sales started falling sharply around the time of the iPad introduction. Those of LCD televisions actually went negative.
It’s possible it’s just the weak economy cutting into these other gadget sales. But Apple’s iPad is increasingly looking like the real culprit.