iPad Launch & Chance for Apple to Tout Tablet Market Potential
Apple on Wednesday will pull back the curtain on an iPad that has sharper-resolution screen and faster network speeds than its year-old predecessor, people familiar with the matter say.
Apple’s invite for its March 7 event features a photo of an iPad.
While the specs will generate much interest, perhaps more interesting will be the apps, services and examples Apple uses to convince new and existing customers they need one of these expensive devices, especially when they have iPhones and laptops too.
Wednesday’s launch event, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, provides another big stage for the Cupertino, Calif., technology giant to trumpet its vision of the potential for the roughly two-year-old tablet. Apple is banking on the iPad to keep the company’s business humming if, or when, the iPhone’s steam wanes.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment about the event, which featured a photo of an iPad on its email invite.
The case studies Apple outlines, present and future, are key to Apple’s marketing of the device to customers and investors. While the tablet market is seeing double-digit growth, fueled in large part by the iPad, analysts and investors still have questions about its potential. “Everyone wants to get a handle on how big this market can be,” says Brian Blair, an analyst with Wedge Partners in New York.
Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., says the answer depends on whether the tablet and laptop remain separate categories or converge. “I really wonder if the device of the future is a converged device like a Macbook Air with touch,” he says, saying consumers are frustrated by carrying around multiple devices with overlapping functions.
Apple has tackled the tablet market-size issue by repeatedly highlighting how tablets are changing all aspects of our lives, from how we work, learn and play. Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he thinks tablets will eventually outsell traditional PCs.
Earlier this year, company executives trumpeted the power of the iPad as an education tool and backpack replacement with the launch of a new digital textbooks service.
In an interview in February, Mr. Cook said the company sold as many iPads in K-12 classrooms as every Windows notebook combined in its most recent quarter. That amounted to twice the number of Mac computers Apple sold in K-12 classrooms during that period, he said.
Investors are buying the story. As iPad (and iPhone) sales have outpaced expectations, Apple’s stock has soared to new heights, pushing the company’s market value above $500 billion last week. But the market is still nascent and analysts still wonder how it will shake out and are paying close attention to whether any competitors start to gain significant traction.
To that end, expect updates Wednesday not just on the innards of the iPad but on what opportunities Apple wants to grab with it next.
Tune in here for live updates during Apple’s event, which begins at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.