Whilst the digerati have given the Apple iPad a hostile reception, we will have to wait several months before we see how the public at large feels about this new category of device.
It is clearly aimed at making life easier and more convenient for people who use their computer for a handful of regular activities; web browsing, emailing, tweeting, messaging, listening to music, watching YouTube, etc. It appears to do all of these things very well in a sexy portable package. Steve Jobs could have hit on the perfect content consumption device for the mass market.
So if the iPad does take off in the same way that the iPod and iPhone did, who will be the winners and losers? Here are my thoughts. Please feel free to add your own in the comments at the bottom of the page.
||The iPad could be the device that makes eBooks and eReaders go mainstream. Cheap eReaders could prosper||The iPad makes existing eReaders including the Kindle, Sony eReader, Plastic Logic Que and B&N Nook look very ordinary and obsolete|
||If the iPad creates a new category of device, netbook manufacturers could easily jump on the bandwagon with devices that undercut Apple's pricing||If the iPad creates a new category of device, which sits between the desktop and smartphone, netbooks will be the casualty. The biggest losers would be Acer, MSI, Sony and Samsung|
|Handheld Gaming Devices
||It's hard to see how iPad's success could create any winners in the gaming hardware industry||Nintendo DS and Sony PSP have seen sales decline, partly because of lack of innovation, but also partly because of competition from the iPod Touch and iPhone. The iPad could cause further problems|
||The Apple app store opens the gaming market to a massive new audience of people who would never buy a dedicated gaming device. This is a big plus for the gaming software companies||When there were only a few gaming devices manufacturers had a tight control over pricing and kept them artificially high. The competition in the app store has forced the price of games down to a fraction of what they were. This competition will continue|
|Personal Video Players
||iPad could kick-start this slow-burn market||There seems little point in owning any portable device that just plays video when you can have a big screen device that does so much more. Companies like Archos and Cowan will continue to be worst affected. The portable DVD player market will be wiped out|
||HTML5||Apple's reluctance to include Flash, which they could easily have done by now, creates some big losers. The biggest is Adobe, the creator of Flash, but also all of the websites created in Flash and the web services that are dependent on it (Wix, Moonfruit, etc.)|
||If the iPad takes off the result will be more music sales and Apple, by controlling iTunes, will be able to maintain their premium pricing||Apple will continue to control the music distribution business and the industry will have to accept what they do and say. The consumer will also lose because of the lack of competition|
||eBooks and audio books could go mainstream and if Apple does what they have done with music they will use their monopoly position to keep prices high and DRM tight||The book industry could go the same way as the record industry and lose control of digital distribution of their products. Again the consumer will pay the price of Apple controlling the sale of books on all their devices|
|Newspaper & Magazine Publishers
||The iPad could save the struggling newspaper and magazine publishing sector by providing a format that readers will again pay a subscription for||As with book publishers, if Apple dominates the portable reader sector, magazine and newspaper publishers will become dependent on them for their ongoing success. A weak position for them to be in|
||Again, the iPad could become a successful, controlled route to market for digital films, forcing users to pay (rather than copy for free)||Ditto the above. Who will wear the trousers in this relationship. I suspect Apple!|
||Microsoft invented tablet software with a spectacular lack of success. iPad could breath new life into their efforts, particularly if they offer the things that Apple don't, e.g. multitasking, Flash, etc.||Microsoft used to lead the market in so many areas. Today they have relinquished leadership in so many of these areas to Apple. It is difficult to see how they will ever re-establish their former glory|
||iPhone Apps have been an incredible innovation which have created a multi-billion dollar market in just a few years. Apps are here to stay and App developers will continue to see their market grow||Apps have been so successful that competition has meant every niche has dozens of competitors and the prices are being squeezed ever lower. This downward trend is likely to continue|
||Safari will continue to prosper if iPad takes off||IE, Firefox and Chrome will be the biggest losers if Apple dominates the mobile web market|
||The iPhone opened up a whole new marketplace for the sat nav software companies||The introduction of GPS into phones and tablets has meant that the sat nav companies have lost control of their marketplace. They will be subject to the same downward pressure on their prices as new sat nav apps become available. Say nav is moving ever closer to being a commodity product|
||Maps with directions and enhanced information are becoming an important sales driver for portable devices. Google Maps will continue to extend their reach||Publishers of printed maps and road atlases will continue to see their market shrink|
||As Apple becomes more dominant in their audience reach via mobile devices, so the opportunities to generate income from advertising grows exponentially||The biggest potential loser will be Google who are doing everything in their power to stay in the mobile game. There are also other mobile ad companies who are likely to be swept aside or consumed by the giants|
There is never a dull moment in the Internet and technology space, but the iPad could either be a dramatic turning point or a huge anti-climax.
By this time next year we will know the answer.