The introduction of the iSlate is going to be a Richter-scale value shock in the industry.
Even if it comes in at a whopping US$999 (which I really hope it will not!), it’s going to reset the scale of value of everything.
From time to time, I go to J&R in Manhattan, a large electronics retailer. I go to check out prices and to see what’s new. And sometimes even to buy.
In a lonely case off to the side, one of the objects for sale is an HP iPaq Pocket PC. List MSRP was $499.00. You can buy it today for the “bargain” price of $366.00.
Who’d want it?
Only some desperate soul who is locked into that now-obsolete version of Windows Mobile.
In other words, there is no longer any market for it. Not in a world where there’s a US$199 8GB iPod Touch.
Once there were millions of Palm PDAs out there. Where are they now? Where’s the market for them today?
Cellphones killed them. Some of those cellphones were from Palm itself, the Treo. But too many people abandoned PalmOS altogether — despite their investment in it. Investment in things like cases, travel chargers, cradles, cables, and even software.
The Palm PDA of yesterday is every single eInk device of today.
People saw cellphones could do more. Some of them cost more than their Palm PDAs but again — they could do more.
The iSlate will be able to do more than any eInk device out there.
Don’t give me any lip about eInk vs. LCD. People are using bright color LCDs every damn day on their cellphones. Just as did they before with bright color LCDs on their Palm PDAs (and Pocket PCs).
People can turn the backlight down.
And Apple is not a stupid company. They will have considered a night-reading brightness mode for the iSlate’s backlight.
The iSlate will reset expectations and every perception of value for everything currently on sale. Every sucker who invested in eInk is going to feel just like the guy who had a monochrome Pocket PC in a crowd of color ones — see my post: E Is Also For Envy. The feeling of personal inadequacy will start to spread out as people encounter the iSlate in the real world and compare it to their eInk device.
And Notion Ink? If Apple’s iSlate is $600-$800 (my hope!), where will that leave your device in the value equation? You lack the ecosystem, you lack the apps, you lack the content. So how low in price does your device need to be?
And as for eInk devices, people will buy them for less than US$99 by the end of 2010. If they are still buying them at all.