The iPad is a Disruptor, not a Revolutionizer

February 10th, 2010 |

About

Raymond Wong is a technology journalist who loves all things digital. He sees the world as a landscape that is continuously being shaped by computers. Aside from blogging for Ploked and his own technology blog, Tekunoloji, Raymond enjoys photography and learning about new web technologies. If you have a story that you would like him to write about, please direct all e-mails to raykm00 [at] gmail [dot] com. Lastly, if Twitter is more of your thing, you can follow him @raykm00!

At 1PM PST on January 27th, Steve Jobs took the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts theater. After years of anticipation and a year of daily speculation that kept every techie on their toes, Jobs was set to change the world again in the same way he did with the iPod and iPhone. He wasted no time in telling us that the device would be called iPad.

The iPad reveal fell short. Nearly every feature and rumor that the internet spread about the iPad didn’t pan out. Steve Jobs asked himself whether or not there was a market between a smartphone and a notebook computer and if there wasn’t, the device need not exist. Jobs said that in order for that device to exist, it needed to do certain tasks better than a netbook. Clearly he wasn’t listening to himself because most would agree that the iPad doesn’t do any task much better than a netbook.

Take a few steps back and you will see that the iPad offers nothing “magical.” Like all devices, it has its shortcomings; there’s no front-facing camera for video chats, no USB ports, and no any card readers. The iPad is no more revolutionary than the iPhone or iPod touch.

This is because the iPad is a disruptor, not a revolutionizer. The goal isn’t simply to kill the Kindle – Apple wants to put Amazon out of the distribution game. That’s right, a new sheriff’s in town and it’s headed by Steve Jobs.

Look no further for evidence than the events of last week when Amazon had a falling out with mammoth publisher, MacMillan. Instead of having the iPad face Amazon’s Kindle head on (the Kindle stands no chance feature wise), Apple is breaking Amazon down, publisher by publisher.

Here’s a quick summary of the publisher battles: Amazon sells ebooks for a flat rate of $9.99. The iPad is then revealed. Apple tells publishers they can sell iBooks for $14.99 and get a larger cut of the profits. Publishers go wild because they can make more money. Macmillan demands that Amazon support the new “agency model.”  Amazon wasn’t too happy with Macmillan bitching about hiking up their ebook prices. Amazon pulled Macmillan ebooks out of their online store. Next thing you know, Amazon is running back to Macmillan, agreeing to their price hikes.

While this doesn’t bode well for consumers (we will now end up paying five bucks more for ebooks) it has already started a ripple effect within the publishing industry that is unlikely to stop. Since the Macmillan stunt, HarpersCollins and Hachette Book Group have pulled the same trick on Amazon. If Amazon doesn’t comply, they will lose their content providers and Apple will win in one fell swoop.

The iPad hasn’t even hit stores, yet Apple has begun stirring the pot, adding the ebook coupe ingredients bit by bit.

I am absolutely confident that even if Apple had revealed the iPad in 2011, it would still have destroyed all of the slates and tablets that other electronics companies are currently putting out. The only reason the iPad is coming out so soon is to stave off others from stealing too much of the ebook market. With Amazon selling more ebooks than real books for the first time last year, and Barnes and Nobles getting serious with their Nook, it was now or never for Apple. With the ebook game still relatively young, Apple has a chance to quickly dominate yet another market.

The iPad obviously won’t win against the competition in a technical spec showdown, but it will dominate the content providers – the publishers. Apple, of all companies, knows full well that those who control the content control the market.

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Raymond Wong
  • sunil ramsamooj

    i remember reading the paper and one guy says 'this is the best day of my life' in terms of the iPad, he was one of the VIP's invited to the theater. All I could think was wow, that's depressing. Apple really needs to get back into the game, these Mac heads are killing Apple by accepting anything (sticking a camera on a Nano wtf?) that Jobs throws at them.

  • sunil ramsamooj

    i remember reading the paper and one guy says 'this is the best day of my life' in terms of the iPad, he was one of the VIP's invited to the theater. All I could think was wow, that's depressing. Apple really needs to get back into the game, these Mac heads are killing Apple by accepting anything (sticking a camera on a Nano wtf?) that Jobs throws at them.

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