How Will the iPad Change the World?

When Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) CEO Steve Jobs took the stage Wednesday to introduce the iPad, the world expected the Next Big Thing. What we got instead was a head-scratcher.

We've already covered what the iPad does and doesn't do, and what our top analysts think the device will mean for Apple.

Now, we're drilling down for a profit play analysis of three industries in which the iPad fits, albeit in an oval-peg-round-hole sort of way:

  • Which of the telecoms will profit from the iPad? Will be it Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) , or perhaps a handset maker such as Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) ?
  • Will the iPad boost profits for ailing newspaper holding companies such as Gannett (NYSE: GCI  ) and McClatchy (NYSE: MNI  ) ?
  • Is the iPad's shadow big enough to cast a pall over netbook vendors?

Got your own thoughts about the iPad? Will you be buying one? Make your voice heard using the comments box below.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Nokia and Sprint Nextel are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the iPad parody patrol. He had stock and options positions in Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is taking a nap now. Bye.


Read/Post Comments (16) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2010, at 5:01 PM, SMKEYWORDS wrote:

    Apple is smart. They put out version 1 of their i-Pad and talk about its simple features. And then they let the market do the rest. Version 2 will be the one to get if the price is right and has the stuff people really want.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2010, at 5:54 PM, gddunton wrote:

    If major textbook publishers get on board with the digital bookstore, this will be a huge success. Education is a huge potential market for this device. Textbooks already run college students $1000s over the course of a 4 year education. The convince of having all your books and notes on one device for $500 may not be worth it, but digital books will cost less.

    Im not naive and think that no physical production costs will cause publishers to offer digital books at rock bottom prices, but it does eliminate one cost factor from the equation and very well can make up for the Price of the $500 device over the long term.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2010, at 5:54 PM, gddunton wrote:

    If major textbook publishers get on board with the digital bookstore, this will be a huge success. Education is a huge potential market for this device. Textbooks already run college students $1000s over the course of a 4 year education. The convince of having all your books and notes on one device for $500 may not be worth it, but digital books will cost less.

    Im not naive and think that no physical production costs will cause publishers to offer digital books at rock bottom prices, but it does eliminate one cost factor from the equation and very well can make up for the Price of the $500 device over the long term.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2010, at 6:00 PM, Tomohawk52 wrote:

    How will the IPad change the world? As a lifelong pedestrian who has to routinely dodge idiot drivers cellphoning, texting, IPodding while at the wheel ... this just adds another thing for drivers to be doing when they should be watching the road.

    It will change *my* world ... for the worse.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2010, at 6:24 PM, kgveit2020 wrote:

    The iPad will definitely save some of the major publishers who take the time and effort to build a good digital version of their print products. However, this will not be easy for some of them. Only the well-managed publisher's will make this transition. But when they do....... they will really be rewarded nicely.

    Printing paper and all that goes with that will be virtually eliminated. That is the major part of their operating costs.

    So it's got to be a game changer for the publishing industry. The iPad and other devices that follow will be the norm in just a few years. You will not see newspaper or print like we do today.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2010, at 6:45 PM, ChannelDunlap wrote:

    Tomo... if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Worked for me.

    gddun... good point. Apple products are already probably most popular with the young 'hip' college kids. If this gets loaded the textbooks, that alone would almost be enough to make the product a success.

    That said, for the average consumer, I don't see a lot of impact. It's basically trying to marge netbooks and ebooks, and, while it's nearer to a netbook, it ultimately fails at both.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2010, at 8:46 PM, Johax wrote:

    To be honest it seems that Mr. Jobs has a very "brilliant" idea how to sell robbish and try to make money. Sorry to say but that day will never come. There is really nothing new and this kind of product cleary shows how he underestimates the behaviour of consumers.

  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2010, at 11:57 AM, Aryabod wrote:

    The product is a good product however it is nothing new. Very rarely do companies continue to produce products that can claim the title as a "Destructive Technology." In this case it is a good product but it is not innovative enough to make waves and change consumer habits on its own. The iPhone, when it was first launched had no equal and Apple re-emerged as a leader in the tech. sector, however since then they have allowed the competition to emulate them for lack of innovative products and as it is becoming evident with their iPad they are having difficulties continuing their leadership.

    Apple now is at a crossroad and needs to make a very serious decision. Do they stay tethered to ATT and allow the competition more room to emulate them or do they preempt them by becoming universal and allowing all the carriers to sell iPhones? By staying tethered to ATT they limit their growth and limit the ability of the iPhone's next iteration. Without a 4G platform the iPhone will have to take a second seat to the likes of HTC, MOT, Palm, Samsung etc. who are all expected to produce 4G phones with Android and WebOS platforms. It was a no brainer that the iPhone was the undisputed king of the smartphone world three years ago, two years ago and even last year, however that is no longer the case.

    Apple would do well to introduce a CDMA version for Sprint since they are the only 4G carrier in the US. This would do two things, first it would allow Apple to launch an iPhone 4G using CDMA and Wimax. Second, it would no doubt put the competition on their toes and give Apple some extra breathing room. It will also be a nice slap in the face at Verizon for promulgating their usual spin and misinformation at ATT & Sprint.

    If Apple decides to untether itself from ATT this summer with a CDMA version it will most certainly double its market share, however if it continues with ATT it will unequivocally lose a great opportunity to garner market share away from its rivals.

  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2010, at 3:34 PM, mtd1nc06 wrote:

    The iPad is a backlit screen with a 10 hour battery life. How can this possibly compete in the electronic book space with the Kindle and eInk technology which is vastly easier to read and has a vastly greater battery life? Newspapers maybe, but reading an entire book on that thing? No thanks. I own a MacBook Pro, an iPhone and a Kindle, I can't imagine what the market is for the iPad.

  • Report this Comment On January 30, 2010, at 8:09 PM, kahunacfa wrote:

    KCFA was very surprised at the specifications of Apple's iPad(R). KCFA does not yet own a netbook, but is looking.

    The expection and hope was that Steve Jobs and Apple would introducwe a MUST BUY device. Unfortunately the iPad(R) was an is decidely Ho-Hum. The AT&T Netbook does more, costs less and is less filling <Expensive>.

    When Apple introduces a new product, going way back to Steve Job's return and the following introduction of the i-Mac all in one individual computer. The iPad is disappointing, with many expected standard features missing.

    Apple will sell as many as they or their subcontractor can build. Such is the Apple Madness, Zillions of Apps will be developed for the device - just like the i-Phone. I do not own an i-Phone(R) either; it is not offered by my Cell-phone carrier.

    In Summary the iPad(R): Too little, - too late maybe?. KCFA uses Macs & PCs. Usually prefers the Mac; not always, however.

    Kahuna, CFA

  • Report this Comment On January 31, 2010, at 1:09 AM, TengoOcho wrote:

    It's like an Iphone, but:

    - No Phone

    - No Camera

    - No multi tasking

    - etc.

    It does, however, have:

    - a very large screen.

    Duplicated Effort:

    - Battery

    - Storage

    - 3g (if you upgrade, and strangely wait an extra month)

    - wifi

    If you already have an iphone:

    - How frustrating is it to buy a gadget that has a sweet screen, but relatively sucky functionality?

    - How crappy is it that you have to pay for two separate data plans?

    What they should have done:

    - Call it the iMax

    - Make it a dock for your iPhone to make surfing the net and reading books easier.

    - Include a fat battery, and a GPU, maybe some sweet speakers.

    - Sell it as a flat-out Kindle-killer.

    - Maybe have an E-ink option like the OLPC lapto

    In fact, a 3rd party could still do that.

    I think that AAPL made a huge mistake with this. Instead of dividing and conquering their own energy / hype / cult, they could have provided a HUGE upgrade accessory to all their loyal iPhone owners, and made the experience even awesomer.

    I hope that someone - probably not AAPL, they have too much pride on the line - but some third party (Belkin, I'm talking to you!) will come up with a iMax docking screen for the iPhone. I'd do it, but while I'm so smart that I know EXACTLY what Jobs should have done, I'm still WEIGH TO DUM to design electronics.

    -T.O.

    PS: To answer the original question. I don't think that the iPad will do too much.

    PPS: The iPhone is great.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2010, at 9:34 AM, LWILLS wrote:

    I can see having an ipad to carry around the house, read news, magazines or books or watch a movie anywhere I want (I don't have a tv in every room). Hopefully TV shows too. I do own a Macbook Pro and my son has a Macbook, but I see room for an iPad in our house. I think some new features/capabilities will be announced when it goes on sale. I suspect there is still some negotiating going on behind the scenes with content providers. I have been looking for something like this - I think it is a great start and is way better than a netbook.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2010, at 10:06 AM, catoismymotor wrote:

    I am going to make a bold prediction: Apple will have a iPad-like large screen HDTV, AKA: iWall, in the market in three to five years. It will operate via touch screen, a Wii-type of remote and a traditional touchpad. It will allow you to access your security system, movies, cable, internet, and music. It will have a built in digital video recorder and will also have a webcam. I also believe you will be able to access all of it's capabilities via the iPhone so you can stream all the information it is plugged into. Example: You get a call that your home has been broken into? Access the iWall to see live video of your home and exatly what is going on. Another example: You have your five year old's birthday on the DVR in your iWall. You go to the internet via your iPhone and stream the video.

    I normally shy away from making bold predictions. But this one I am confident about.

  • Report this Comment On February 01, 2010, at 12:03 PM, Babble100 wrote:

    You're asking about profits from services, but I bet Apple is counting on profits from the hardware itself.

    Apple made much ado about $499 entry point but remember that's double the price of a netbook. Apple ain't dumb, they left room for profit in there.

    iPad could emerge as an executive's toy - simple and easy info over the WiFi LAN at board meetings etc. Also as doctor's clipboards and other well-heeled knowledge workers. They'll pay the price for quality.

    For college students, Daddie will pay.

  • Report this Comment On February 03, 2010, at 9:52 AM, PatriotGreetings wrote:

    Here's what I would like to see it evolve to:

    http://patriotgreetingcards.com/beta/ebay/Patriotgreetingcar...

  • Report this Comment On September 27, 2010, at 4:43 PM, gslusher wrote:

    It's interesting to read all the negative comments above now, 8 months after the announcement of the iPad. Apple sold over 3 million iPads in the first 2 months and STILL can't make them fast enough to keep up with sales and is making lots of money. Apple's stock price has hit all-time highs in the last week and is now up over 41% since before the iPad was introduced. Large enterprises that wouldn't consider the iPhone (being wedded to their BlackBerries) are ordering iPads. Some analysts think that Apple will sell more iPads than Macs in 2011.

    Those who pooh-poohed the iPad should step back and think about WHY they made such incredible errors. Some made the common mistake of projecting THEIR peculiar tastes, desires, etc onto the population at large, without understanding that they represent a VERY small minority of techie geeks. I never liked Michael Jackson's music, but that didn't mean that he wouldn't sell millions of albums.

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