iPad: For the early adopter’s mom

mom-daughterSo after the iPad announcement on Wednesday, it seems like much of the tech world has been panning the iPad for not having the features they were hoping for, like a camera, multitasking, more storage, etc.

So today we’re starting to hear more voices defending the iPad, saying that it does have a reason for being, that it does have a customer, and that customer is…moms.  I first heard this from two friends of mine, then saw it on Greg Meyer’s blog, and then on Cnet and TechCrunch.  The argument goes that moms don’t like laptops because they’re too bulky to carry around, but they still want to read, do light emailing, and web browse, but a smartphone is too small for these tasks, so the iPad fills the bill.  The iPad is like the Nintendo Wii of tablets – it’s targeted at a mass market, not the hardcore like the PS3 and Xbox, so stop complaining that it doesn’t have every feature under the sun.

While this argument is tempting, it fails in a couple key places.  First, no device that fails to win the early adopters will capture mass market support.   The Wii was a hit among early adopters – primarily the under 30 set.  They put it on their wishlists, got their moms to buy it for them, and then when they realized it was so easy, they showed their moms how to use it.  It succeeded because of its simplicity, and with a lot of help from a $250 price point.

The iPad, on the other hand, looks simple, but really isn’t.  Consider a couple of every day use cases in the form of this imaginary conversation with my mom:

“Joel, I want to watch this DVD on the plane.  Can I do that on my iPad.”

“Sure, just rip the DVD on your laptop then import it into iTunes, and download it to your iPad.”

“Um…how do I do that?”

“Nevermind.  I’ll do it for you.”

“Joel, I want to store a bunch of word documents on my iPad so I can have them handy when I do my volunteer work, how do I do that?”

“Um…there’s an app for that.  I’ll do it for you.”

“Joel, I want to send the photos on my digital camera to your aunt.  Do I do that on my iPad?”

“Do you have a 30-pin to mini USB adapter or a 30-pin to SD card adapter?”

“A what?”

“Just use your laptop.”

“Joel, I want to buy an ebook and read it while I travel.”

“Well, now you’re in business.”

Ultimately, it’s a device that has a form factor and UI that may be attractive to moms, but it requires tech savvy to actually use it for anything more than what mom already does on her smartphone or laptop. So good thing mom has you, the early adopter around to help her use it.  And you’ll probably have to buy it for her, too – how many moms are going to shell out $500 on this kind of gadgetry?

So there you have it: the iPad will sell like hotcakes.  To the moms of early adopters, early adopters who are nice enough to buy it for them.  I’m sure Apple’s shareholders are pleased to hear that.



  1. I’m not sure about early adopters. BetaMax was the favorite of early adopters but VHS won out in the end.