iPad Launch: All Systems, Mostly, Go

With over 300,000 units sold in its first day, the iPad is off to a great start. But can the early momentum be sustained?

Apple initially promised the iPad would be available by the end of March, but a short time later had to slightly revise that estimate to April 3. That small glitch and reports that some users are having trouble with the device's Wi-Fi connectivity are about the only hiccups in an otherwise stellar launch.

Following its release Saturday, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) said it had sold over 300,000 iPads after the first day. That total includes delivery of iPads that were pre-ordered as well as via stores.

"It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world—it's going to be a game changer," said Apple's CEO Steve Jobs in a statement that also included some early-use analytics. "iPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad," he said.

Gartner analyst Mike McGuire said Apple reported some impressive launch numbers but the real story of how well the iPad will do is yet to be known.

"Anything in technology that's been buzzed for a while is going to have pent up demand and the early adopters who have an interest in it, not just rich people, will be ready to buy it," McGuire told InternetNews.com. "We saw that this weekend."

But McGuire said the interest is going to play out very differently than it did for the iPhone.

"The iPhone changed the world's perception of what you could do with content on a mobile device, like being able to surf the Web in a familiar way on a phone," he said. "But if you already have a notebook and a smartphone, you might wonder how you will use an iPad."

McGuire said the iPad comes as close as anything to a new category of "content foraging" devices he and colleagues at Gartner have been talking about for years. "You can e-mail and do some computing, but basically it's a consumption device," said McGuire.

And while several major publishers, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Time magazine, have content services on the iPad at launch, McGuire said they've only scratched the surface of what's possible on the device.

Social media implications

"The media companies are just starting to figure out the possibilities and many of them, particularly the smaller developers, are just now getting to play with the device," said McGuire.

"The much larger screen, music and video integration, and the social media implications are fascinating."

Apple did not return a request for comment on the spotty Wi-Fi connections issue by press time.

Numerous sites have reported instances of users having trouble connecting or the Wi-Fi not responding after the device was activated from a sleep state. Technology writer Larry Magid said in two days of testing he didn't have any Wi-Fi issues using the iPad in different parts of his house and from other locations including several restaurants.

"Personally, I haven't had any of the Wi-Fi problems that have been reported," Magid told InternetNews.com. "But ironically, I couldn't test the bandwidth because all of my testing programs require Flash, which the iPad doesn't support."

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.




Tags: iPad, iPad apps, Apple, Wi-Fi, Apple tablet


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