BURIED IN Apple's stonking quarterly results was the surprise news that its Ipad sales have flattened.
When Apple released its tablet, I said that it deserved to fail because it was an overpriced netbook without a keyboard or even any useful outputs.
I said that it was technology without an application, that it actually added nothing to the world and that only an Apple fanboi would be dumb enough to buy one.
I had to eat a little humble pie when the stupid gadget sold millions more than I expected. I had a few days with one to see if there was something I missed. There was nothing to suggest that the gear should not end up in the pile with that weird K-Tel stuff that looks like a good idea but you never use. You know, the sort of kit that polishes your onions.
However when Steve Jobs announced Apple's fourth quarter sales figures he had to admit that sales of the Ipad were disappointing. The company sold 4.19 million Ipads in the fiscal fourth quarter.
Analysts who have made fools of themselves predicting that Jobs' magic will bring about a new era of computing are trying to claim that the Ipad didn't sell well because of supply shortages. However the under-supply was more to do with pre-orders and was soon rectified. Most people who want an Ipad have been able to get one.
But 4.19 million Ipads sold would be a great figure, if Apple had not been touting it as a cure for cancer that was going to sweep the world with its magic and change computing.
What we are seeing is that the Ipad is not going to be the big "game changer" that Apple and its tame media lackeys had claimed. Apple has created a new market for itself, but it is still flogging the gear to the usual nutters who buy everything that it makes.
It is possible that ordinary people are waiting for saner priced tablets, perhaps something with Android inside. But I doubt it.
Steve Jobs did make a splash by being the first to make a tablet that some people wanted. But generally people still do not want to waste cash on something that they can't use much.
Tablets have floundered because no one can think of a good reason for them to exist. They will be useful when someone does.
Jobs' Ipad is a giant version of the Ipod Touch. Nothing to see here, move along please.
But this means those who are hoping to jump on the Ipad bandwagon with similar products are going to face an impossible task. They are going to be flogging keyboardless netbooks to those who are not brain-dead Apple fanbois with more money than sense.
What we have been seeing is that a number of tablets that have been placed on the market are suffering from delayed releases. Normally if something really is good, then manufacturers churn them out really fast. But the Ipad has been out for a while now and there have been very few tablets announced that might give it a good kicking.
Some of that has been because the 'Froyo' release of the Android operating system that many of them are depending on has a few problems with tablets and the manufacturers want to make sure that they get it right.
However, manufacturers have rushed products to market before hoping for a quick buck and it is not as if they cannot undercut Apple's margins. It seems to me that they are sitting on their hands waiting for what we saw yesterday - proof that there is not enough interest in tablets.
Those who have released tablets earlier than the others have clearly tried to re-jig them to remedy what have been seen as Apple's failings. They have mostly made them lighter and more portable.
Jobs has mocked them by saying that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be dead on arrival. "Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small," he said.
He might mock, although there were rumours that he was going to release a smaller tablet too, but the reason rival tablets are smaller is that the other tablet makers had to think out of the box. The Ipad is seen as not being portable enough. Maybe they can squeeze something more out of the idea.
But Jobs is right. They will fail unless they can actually come up with a use for the technology. I predict that Jobs will keep flogging new versions of his Ipads to Apple fanbois who will buy them for the token upgrades he will provide for them. But the tablet is not baked yet. µ
Cheers, trebles and big bonuses all round
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