There are signs that Apple is increasingly worried about the future of the iPad:
- There was the recent Jobs in-house rant against Adobe (ADBE) and Google (GOOG).
- The company seems suddenly worried about app developers and its relationship to them, given the issues many have risen.
- Apple is already considering possible price reductions if the device doesn't catch on, just as it ended up doing with the iPhone.
- Analysts are picking up vibes that Apple will keep its exclusive iPhone deal with AT&T, suggesting that suddenly the big percentage of iPhone sales that AT&T customers represent are wanted security.
With the stakes so high, there are factors facing Apple that could make the most relaxed and certain of people concerned. I can't remember another time in the recent past when so many of the people who usually support Apple's efforts were offering mixed impressions of a product launch. The technical criticisms, including lack of Flash (probably because Apple wants all video viewing to go through iTunes), have been harsh for a device that isn't even on store shelves to test. And then there was that "study" claiming that "iPad hoopla fails to convince buyers." Although I think the numbers were statistically bogus, it's the sort of report that can heighten worry of executives.
You'd have to be superhuman to ignore such factors, and the people at Apple aren't donning capes and bounding over buildings. They are plenty concerned. And when it comes to small-form computers, there is plenty of competition. According to DisplaySearch, mini-notebook TFT LCD panel shipments jumped 603 percent from 2008 to 2009. Consumers have lots of choices.
In fact, I can't imagine how Apple could be unconcerned over any new product launch. That would be a sign of inept management, and executives there are pretty smart. But the stakes are higher than ever before. Although the iPod and iPhone allowed the company to expand its reach beyond the traditional "faithful," those additional customers aren't so closely and unwaveringly tied in. Apple managers are afraid of losing the influence they seemed to have gained. And this time, you can see them sweat.
Image via stock.xchng user Genkaku, site standard license.