The iSlate Factor People Are Missing

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.

14 Responses to The iSlate Factor People Are Missing

  1. I mostly agree with you here, particularly that the iSlate will drive down prices for a number of devices — especially Pocket PCs and Netbooks — but I believe there will still be a solid niche market for dedicated devices with an ecommerce angle, aka Kindle.

    The Nook’s terrible first impression may have killed the only credible challenge to the Kindle, and I’m willing to bet the inevitable Kindle 3 will cost $199 and continue Amazon’s “good enough” approach that keeps their core customers happy while introducing apps for Macs and Blackberrys to extend their reach even further.

    • mikecane says:

      Well, that and the rumor of the next K using a color screen by Mirasol. Still, you will be assimilated. ALL of you. Bwahahaha.

  2. Nunuvyer Bizniz says:

    You are right that a whole lot of people just don’t get it. The iPad, or whatever it will be called, changes everything. It is such a technological watershed event that we will soon look at portable computing as before & after the launch of the Apple Tablet. Many internet whiners and naysayers will STILL not get it a year from now, when my AAPL reaches $350.

    • MikeMc says:

      Okay, I’ll bite. The light bulb was a technological watershed, wireless, television, the airplane, the printing press etc… but another tablet computer? Seriously? Is this actually your opinion or just chance to tout AAPL? I wouldn’t touch this thing for $500 if it meant I had to be tied to that loathsome beast known as iTunes for Windows or an app store. $500 and no app store type lock-in or wireless contract and maybe they’d be on to something.

      • MikeMc says:

        Actually Mike that was directed towards Nunuvyer Bizniz and his $350 share price comment.

        • mikecane says:

          @MikeMc: WordPress Comment Dashboard UI FAIL. It doesn’t thread replies as they appear on the blog itself, so everything looks directed at me, whether it’s a reply to someone else or not. I apologize and I’ve deleted the reply.

          Edited to add your name and also to say this won’t appear under your Comment because it won’t thread it that far down.

  3. Nunuvyer Bizniz says:

    Like this loser, Christopher Dawson, who somehow is allowed to write articles for ZDNet:

  4. Ariel says:

    Sigh… It’s not the backlight that’s the problem with reading!

    Even if a backlight is OFF, an LCD still has a refresh rate. It’s the constant refresh that causes eyestrain over long periods of time.

    THAT is why eInk is perfect for reading. Everyone who says LCDs are fine aren’t readers. Period.

    Turn your backlight off, it won’t matter. If you’re reading on an LCD for hours at a time, you WILL get eyestrain.

    • mikecane says:

      >>>Everyone who says LCDs are fine aren’t readers.

      Piffle. I still read from my LifeDrive LCD screen.

      • Chris says:

        I’m sure the eye-strain issue is different for each person. I bought a Kindle 1 and used it daily. Then I got an iPod Touch and the Kindle app and started reading on it instead. At some point, I realized I was getting blurred vision and head-aches. I went back to reading primarily on the Kindle and they went away. That is my experience. Yours may be different.

    • iphonerulez says:

      What would you consider a long period of time? Wouldn’t the Apple tablet be good enough to read magazine articles or a few articles from a newspaper? Or how about looking up encyclopedia facts or using it as a dictionary? Maybe the Apple slate won’t appeal to the people who love to read novels, but there are a lot of other short article publications that will be useful on the Apple tablet.

      I do know that there are lots of word processing operators who worked seven hours a day for most of their careers and they weren’t using eInk. I honestly believe the LCD’s poor reading factor will not weigh that heavily on consumers. The Apple tablet will offer too much for most consumers to cast it aside for one mildly weak feature. This is only my personal opinion on a product that I have no idea what it does. Rather silly, isn’t it, to defend something I’ve never used.

      • Chris says:

        Obviously people *can* read on LCDs for long periods of time. As a software engineer, I sit in front of one all day everyday. Some days its fine, others, I have problems, but I have to get through it. And for some people it may not be a problem at all. But for a number of people, e-Ink is much more comfortable for their style of reading, their eyes, or whatever. Those people won’t be jumping to using a tablet for their eBook reading needs until the screen technology accommodates their needs. Another reason I prefer reading on my Kindle is that I am not tempted to go play online or check my email, but that is another issue (self-control I guess)

        That said, I am very excited to see what Apple announces next week. I might even get an iTablet and it might supplant my Kindle like the iPod Touch tried to last summer…

  5. barbara says:

    @ariel I read on my netbook all the time and find it easier to tolerate than reading a paper book. I despise eInk enough so that I wouldn’t take a kindle/Nook/Sony Reader if they paid me.

    If Kindle for PC works on the iSlate I will get one. Otherwise, my netbook does everything I need.

  6. Mattias Axén says:

    The iSlate factor people are missing is perhaps this:
    I think the iSlate will be heavily oriented towards learning and higher education. Consequenses for libraries will be “over the top gi-normous” – just thinking about gives me shivers down my spine.

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