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You Need an iPad (not Tablet) Strategy in 2012

By Wayan Vota on January 30, 2012

apple ict sales

Recently, Apple released its 4th quarter earnings, and the numbers were stunning. Macrumors spells out the highlights of what is now the most valuable public company on earth:

Apple shipped 5.2 million Macintosh computers during the quarter, a unit increase of 26 percent over the year-ago quarter. Quarterly iPhone unit sales reached 37.04 million, up 128 percent from the year-ago quarter… Apple also sold 15.43 million iPads during the quarter, up 111 percent over the year-ago quarter. Apple set new company records for iPhone, iPad, and Mac sales during the quarter.

But all those numbers are pretty abstract. Can you even fathom a company where:

  1. The iTunes Store alone generated 50 percent more revenue than all of Yahoo did last quarter
  2. Apple’s profit for the year beats Google’s total revenue for the year
  3. Apple’s quarterly revenues are over double Microsoft’s quarterly revenues

I have a pretty good imagination, and I am still trying to comprehend what all that means. But there is one small metric that is no dream. Its a metric that should have every IT company concerned too:

Apple sold more iPads alone than HP sold PC’s

Oh, and iPads are only 20% of Apple’s overall revenue stream. Which means that every IT company in America, Africa, and around the world will need to have an iPad strategy in 2012. No more is the PC – desktop or laptop – the center of the computing experience. The iPhone (and to a lesser extent) Android own the mobile phone space and the iPad is now cannibalizing the PC market as people find the sleek aluminum and glass tablet more convenient and powerful than many computers.

iPads are in Africa already

I can hear a few people in the ICT4D space saying “so what?” They believe that iPads are not Bottom of the Pyramid products. To an extent, they are right – most Africans are not buying iPads as consumer items, like is done in wealthy countries. Yet, iPads are here, and cheaper than in Europe.

IDG reports that IT and business professionals in Africa are twice as likely (47%) to use an iPad purchased by their employer than their colleagues elsewhere in the world (23%), and possibly as a result, iPad users in Africa tended to use their devices more for business than entertainment and their levels of work-based communication using an iPad were higher than average.


But what should be noticed is that levels of hardware substitution in Africa are very close to the global norm. 73% said their iPad had partly or completely replaced their laptop. That means desktop and laptop vendors need to develop an iPad strategy now.

Not a tablet strategy, mind you, but an iPad strategy. So far, its the only tablet that matters as IDG found “incredible” brand loyalty to Apple – only 19% of those surveyed in Africa would consider purchasing a non-Apple tablet. And iPad users are popping everywhere, even in rural agriculture.

Question is: what does an iPad strategy look like?

This is an open question. I’ve explored the iPad’s impact on education, but as to an iPad sales strategy, I’m still a bit lost. I do know we all need to find one asap. Or we will all be working in a Genius Bar before we know it.


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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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2 Comments to “You Need an iPad (not Tablet) Strategy in 2012”

  1. Jim Teicher says:

    The iPad is beautiful

    The iPad is a wonderful invention. To hear of it, see it, touch it, use it…is a near hypnotic experience! There are half-a-million apps — or more. The iPad is connected, portable, easy to use, has a relatively long battery life. It now integrates a book publishing platform that foreshadows the availability of multimedia textbooks that you and I can author and distribute globally. It’s elegant, if not…beautiful.

    So what is there not to love?

    Nothing; but everything must be interpreted in context. When we consider today’s iPad, we are excited about the promise of technology to deliver an information sharing solution that can help African nations benefit from globalization. We fantasize about how this little gadget of plastic and metal might ultimately cost very little and be stuffed with the information and knowledge-sharing capabilities to enable amazing social and economic benefits — just as the mobile phone has enabled communications for all. We all love to dream, and the iPad has given us all much to dream about!

    But let’s get real!

    An iPad “strategy” is not a strategy for today’s iPad. By the time the strategy is written, today’s iPad will be obsolete. As the iconic futurist Marshall McLuhan once said, “…The future is never what it used to be.” There will have to be significant advancements regarding the cost of production and support, the reliability, availability and cost of connectivity and content, and the training necessary for the iPad (or any tablet, laptop or desktop, for that matter) to impact development in Africa.

  2. Scott McNeil says:

    Given the early stage of the non-Microsoft tablet market, it is premature to declare the need for a single vendor, rather than multi-vendor, tablet strategy.

    Historic market numbers for pc and smart phone operating systems show a trend favouring those available from multiple hardware vendors.

    At the moment there is no evidence that the tablet market will be any different from the pc or smart phone markets. However, it’s still too early to declare a winner, thus the need for a multi-vendor tablet strategy.