When Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) original iPad launched in April 2010, fans snatched the first million off the shelves in just 28 days.
By the end of 2010, that number had reached 15 million, pulling in $9.6 billion in sales for Apple in the process. In a flash, the iPad became the most successful consumer electronics launch ever.
Fast-forward to today…
Just one week after the iPad 2 hit stores, it’s happening all over again. The difference this time, however, is that Apple might have hit one million in sales even faster, according to Scott Sutherland, analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities. Some Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) stores sold out in just 10 minutes or less.
Absolutely. A full 30% of iPad 2 sales came from existing iPad owners. But why? It’s only just a bit faster than the original and has a couple of new cameras. And while it’s lighter and thinner, is the original really that cumbersome?
Consumers don’t seem to care. But amid the giddy euphoria, they’ve forgotten that the iPad 2 is essentially what the original iPad should have been. I’m sure this was a deliberate ploy by Apple in order to fuel sales of the latest version. So I was secretly hoping that the iPad 2 would fail miserably.
Needless to say, I didn’t get my wish.
But the enormous popularity of the iPad brand means more traffic – and potential profits – will filter to these key areas:
1. Want News? There’s an App for That
The Internet is finally outpacing newspapers as the most popular news source, according to Pew Research’s “State of the News Media.” The report showed that 67% of adults under 30 primarily accessed the news online in 2010 – up from 34% in 2007.
Going further, 47% of people now catch their news on their tablet PCs and smartphones. And with more people scooping up iPads, that’s a huge opportunity for mobile news apps. Especially free applications that run especially well on the iPad like Pulse and Flipboard.
2. Flash Backward
Apple has always refused to allow Adobe Systems’ (Nasdaq: ADBE) flash-based content to run on its devices. That’s why many web pages in Apple’s Safari browser have gaping holes throughout them.
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Last week, Adobe finally caved and released a tool that allows web developers to convert flash content into the emerging online standard: HTML 5. While that’s certainly good news, it might be too little, too late for Adobe, though. More iPads on the market means more developers bailing out of Adobe altogether in favor of HTML 5.
3. Textbooks Go Digital
Demand for digital textbooks is about to hit warp speed. But there’s a problem: Just 1% of higher education textbooks are digital.
There’s massive upside potential here, given that the number of iPad users and e-textbook sales could grow by 80% to 100% over the next four years, based on estimates by social learning platform, Xplana.
One study says 25% of college students would rather study from e-textbooks, but since proper studying requires interaction, simple e-readers won’t suffice. So look for highly interactive textbook apps, like Inkling, to capture the opportunity here.
4. Netflix: One Streaming Content Provider Rules All
Making Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) available on the iPad was one of the best decisions Apple made. And I’ll admit that the iPad offers the best mobile experience for Netflix, hands-down.
Of course, Netflix doesn’t really need the iPad to dominate the streaming video market. According to market research firm, NDP Group, Netflix controlled 61% of the digital video market in the first two months of 2011. But I expect that number to catapult higher as more consumers fall for the iPad’s charms. Especially since Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android phones haven’t received access yet.
5. The Solution to Web Conferencing Issues in HTML 5
Naturally, the new front-facing camera in the iPad 2 should inspire a movement toward web conferencing on the device. Problem is, video conferencing isn’t supported in HTML 5.
That means companies that offer video conferencing through regular HTML format (like Vidyo), should hit paydirt this year.
Keep in mind, this list represents a tiny selection of the opportunities the tablet PC market’s growth. And while we can’t cure the blind devotion of Apple’s fans, we can certainly take advantage.