Is Apple’s Tablet The iPod Air?
“We view the iPod market as bigger than the market for simple music players,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer. “We believe one of the iPod’s future directions is to become the first mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform.”
Emphasis added by me.
Do any of you understand the boldness of that statement? And what was just tipped?
James Kendrick at JK on the Run noticed something even before the above was published:
Having an iPod Touch with largely the same functionality of the iPhone proves to me how savvy Apple is about this stuff. They will have effectively removed the carrier, something that no company such as Apple likes to play ball with, from the iPhone in the iPod Touch. Sure you won’t have all of that Edge goodness in the US, but you don’t have AT&T to worry about either. Jobs is so crafty.
Oh he is!
Everyone hailing the new MacBook Air as The New Thing has it all wrong. It’s just a lighter notebook. Sure, perhaps a secondary computer, but how many people don’t already have that?
I think Cringely is right about how limited that market is:
It is very doubtful that Apple will sell a million Airs in the next year. It is doubtful Apple will sell even half a million Airs and Steve Jobs knows this. What’s important here is not the subnotebook computer but the bits of it that will likely make their way into much more interesting Apple products to come.
I see Apple notebooks all over the place. Apple just sold a ton of them last month as Christmas gifts. I don’t see those people getting rid of a month-old brand-new notebook for the Air.
Cringely especially understands how the chip business works:
Take that specially packaged Intel CPU, how did that come about? Steve Jobs didn’t beat the heck out of Intel CEO Paul Otellini to get a little CPU that would go into fewer than half a million boxes. Steve did what he always does. He beat the heck out of Paul Otellini with the promise that this little CPU — for which we can expect Apple will hold some exclusive for the next six months — will end up in millions and millions of Apple products, nearly all of them costing a lot less than a MacBook Air.
Emphasis added by me.
The thing that Apple has sold in the “millions and millions” is the iPod.
Even people who don’t understand or even like computers have iPods.
Just as “Macintosh” has come to symbolize a certain je nais se quoi, so has the term “iPod.”
Ask the few Zune owners how many times they’ve had people ask where they got “that brown iPod.”
The iPod has established itself in the minds of everyone in these ways:
1) You don’t need to be a geek to use it
2) It’s just about as simple to use as a TV
3) It’s inexpensive enough to buy on an impulse
Apple has slowly been expanding the definition of the iPod from a single-purpose music-player to a device that can display a calendar, show photos, play games, and now view video.
At the top of this iPod continuum sits the iPhone.
As we’ve seen with the introduction of the iPod Touch, the iPhone really is a next-generation iPod with an embedded cellphone. With all the publicity the iPhone has received, with all the sales it has had (and still does; I was in an Apple Store Monday and people were buying iPhones!), Jobs is making headway in stretching the definition of what “iPod” means.
Jobs made the bold move of leapfrogging his established iPod models for the iPhone and then adding a phoneless iPhone to the iPod lineup. A two-prong approach that redefined the scope of what “iPod” means and what an iPod can do.
What is missing in Apple’s product lineup is exactly what the rumor mill has stated a few months ago: a tablet computer.
And I think that tablet computer will be called the iPod Air.
Apple has already established the “Air” moniker as connoting lightness, svelteness, and portability.
A tablet computer called the iPod Air would ride on those marketing coattails very easily. And it would further broaden the idea of what the iPod is by linking the idea of “iPod” (easy, un-geeky) with the idea of “Air” (a sexy computer).
I’ve got a idea for a TV ad that would nail the iPod Air in everyone’s mind:
FADE IN: That now-famous manila envelope on surface
NARRATION: In January, Apple unveiled the lightest computer ever …
MacBook Air being pulled out of envelope
NARRATION: … the MacBook Air.
MacBook Air being opened
NARRATION: And now we’re doing it again.
iPOD AIR pulled from INSIDE the MacBook Air
NARRATION: Meet the new iPod Air. A computer as easy to use an as iPod. And as light as Air.
OK, maybe it’s not the best way to do it, because I can see eejits wondering if you need to buy a MacBook Air to use the iPod Air (just as everyone thought they needed to buy a Treo to get any use out of the Foleo!). I still put that example here because I believe mostly non-eejits will be reading this post. Apple’s marketing department and ad agency will come up with the defining image. A smaller envelope, maybe? A fanny pack? A Daytimer?
Nevertheless, I believe that the Air designation will not be limited to the new MacBook. I firmly believe that an iPod Air is coming and that it will be the rumored tablet computer from Apple.
Just wait and see what applications start appearing when Apple releases the iPhone/iPod Touch SDK. Especially wait to see what new iPhone/iPod Touch applications come from Apple at that time.
I still expect two things to happen:
1) iSync being revised
2) A portable Bluetooth keyboard
People will want an iTunes-simple way of getting stuff into an iPod Air and also have the peace of mind of not losing important stuff.
People like me will scream (have been screaming!) for a Bluetooth keyboard because an on-screen keyboard for anything more than SMS/texting is not fun.
If either of those two things happen, Apple will have further revealed its hand. Just as their number cruncher, Oppenheimer, surprisingly did in that earnings call.