The iPad Dies First

Fellow Fool and all-around Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) expert Tim Beyers made me do a spit-take with my coffee when he declared the death of the iPod yesterday. He's getting the whole iPod-vs.-iPad debate backwards. Here's why.

There's no doubt that Apple is remaking itself as a mobile-gadget company instead of the old Apple Computers that deserved that stodgy name. So far, we agree. But believing that the large-format iPad will become the new standard for mobile consumer computing and pushing smaller, less capable devices like the iPod Nano and Classic out of existence is just crazy.

Most notably, the Nano will never go out of style. It's a perfectly designed one-function device that simply plays music, and looks good doing it. I dare you to strap an iPad to your back for a half-hour treadmill jaunt, Tim. Even the iPod Touch or iPhone models are a tad unwieldy for this purpose, but they're still handy enough to be an outside option.

If there is a sweet spot in the mobile computing market, smartphones and similarly sized trinkets will be it -- including the iPod Touch and iPhone. That's true at least until Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) or Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN  ) or somebody manages to cram a high-definition projector into a Nano-sized format without destroying its battery life. The iPad may be lighter than a Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) laptop or even a Macbook Air, but it's still too big and clumsy for any use you might file under "portable" with a straight face. Smartphones are "just right" in a Goldilocks kind of way.

The iPad might revolutionize the e-book reader market, if Tim's numbers are right, but then again, those promises to buy an iPad might also stem from the joy of discovering new toys. Once that honeymoon period is over -- and I think it will evaporate quickly -- the Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Kindle and maybe even Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) Nook will return to dominate the e-reader sector. The real threat comes from new technology powering as-yet unseen alternatives, courtesy of innovators like Marvell Technology (Nasdaq: MRVL  ) -- not from the iPad.

In the end, the iPad won't change anything, and certainly won't kill the iPod. Sorry, Tim.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Apple and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2010, at 4:08 PM, seudad wrote:

    While I don't necessarily think the iPad, alone, will kill the iPod, I don't believe the iPod will remain long, at least in large volumes. iPod sales are already beginning to decline as you see sales shifting to the iPhone. On another note, to say the iPad is only temporary and will be replaced in market share by the Kindle and Nook is something I have to argue. Students and readers could not expect to stay with a simple black and white screen to read when there are options to view content in a full color, interactive environment like the iPad. I suppose time will only tell, but being an analyst in the PC industry myself, I am inclined to say that Tim is closer to the truth than you are.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2010, at 4:15 PM, seudad wrote:

    Sorry, one more point about the "unwieldy" iPod Touch and iPhone....I am an avid runner and every morning I am among dozens of folks in the downtown Austin area enjoying their morning jog. I can say, without a doubt, that I hardly see any audio device other than an iPhone or iPod Touch strapped to the arms of fellow joggers and believe it or not, I do pay attention, as it is part of what I do. I myself run with an iPhone strapped to my arm and can easily say it just as easy to run with and much easier to operate while running than my iPod Nano.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2010, at 4:15 PM, seudad wrote:

    Sorry, one more point about the "unwieldy" iPod Touch and iPhone....I am an avid runner and every morning I am among dozens of folks in the downtown Austin area enjoying their morning jog. I can say, without a doubt, that I hardly see any audio device other than an iPhone or iPod Touch strapped to the arms of fellow joggers and believe it or not, I do pay attention, as it is part of what I do. I myself run with an iPhone strapped to my arm and can easily say it just as easy to run with and much easier to operate while running than my iPod Nano.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2010, at 7:01 PM, KTachyon wrote:

    I don't believe the iPod is in decline. If anything, iPod seems to be a mature product, not a declining one. There's no declining curve in sales, Apple seems to be selling the same every quarter. The small declines don't seem conclusive enough to support that statement. As long as Apple keeps refreshing the device, there will probably be buyers.

    I don't really believe that any product will kill the other. They have different purposes. Some overlapping purposes, but, still, quite different uses.

  • Report this Comment On March 25, 2010, at 7:36 PM, daniinLA wrote:

    I work in a tech job and 80% of my coworkers and I have some sort of Apple tech -- many have gone 100% Apple at home. Most of my friends and coworkers want an iPad. That said, I don't think it's going to kill the iPod -- not everyone wants to pay the monthly fee for an iPhone and the iPad's a little large to strap on at the gym.

    I do think the iPad (and iPhone & iTouch, albeit with much smaller screen) is going to take a huge chunk out of all the book reader competition though. For very little more than a Nook (B&N) or a Kindle (Amazon) you can use the iPad. You can download for free the Kindle ap and turn your iPhone or iPad into a Kindle reader plus have all the cool Apple capabilties.

    So I don't think the iPad and iPod are going to duke it out, but I think all the other book readers will die once iPad hits the streets next week.

  • Report this Comment On March 26, 2010, at 10:56 AM, PSU69 wrote:

    iPods deliver and they willl not go away. iPad without Flash which is in 40% of the websites? Keeps me from buying the iPad. I was on the Apple website placing an order for it when I learned NO FLASH. Game over for me. Until Steve J. gets his head out of his butt being anti-flash, I will drag around my Dell. Things like his position on Flash are why his computers are under 5% share in the global game.

  • Report this Comment On March 26, 2010, at 12:04 PM, eldernorm wrote:

    I have to agree with KTachyon, "I don't believe the iPod is in decline. If anything, iPod seems to be a mature product, not a declining one. " just seems to explain the iPod market.

    Apple is still at 70+% of the mp3 player market worldwide and selling about 10 million per quarter. Not chump change if you ask me. I have an original iPod Nano and its still chugging along. I love it when space is a consideration. Much of the time it is plugged into a radio/iPod system to play wake up/ sleep music.

    Just a thought here but IPods seem here to stay.

    en

  • Report this Comment On March 30, 2010, at 10:29 AM, wolverine1987 wrote:

    If the iPod dies, it won't be the iPad that kills it, it will be the iPhone. If you have an iPhone, (which will now be even more popular given today's Verizon announcement) there is little reason to own an ipod now that storage capacity has increased. And to think that people will move away from the iPad (and other similar devices still to come) back to the Nook and Kindle? That is I must say, breathtaking. The Kindle and Nook will be dead within 2 years from today.

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2011, at 4:03 PM, CaptJimDavis wrote:

    Right now at CES in Las Vegas many iPad-like tablets are introduced to the consumers. Most of them with better capabilities and functionality than the iPad and they include the FLASH and even a Camera !!!

    It is really annoying to access a popular website on the go with iPad (which is designed to do so) but end up not being able to view it or receive an email with attachment but not be able to open it.

    Email program is so basic on iPad that makes you think a novice programmer designed it.

    As soon as I inspect the newer devices with Flash and camera, my iPad will end up on eBay. I am done with it.

    Ipad without Flash feels like owning a binocular which you can not see the half of what you're looking at. It's ridicilous.

    Make a device for accessing the Internet and then limit the amount of the net you can access. Then they call this guy a genius. Really?

    Weird people called "stupid" but when they have ton of money like Steve Jobs they are called "eccentric".

    I wonder what the genius(!) will do when eventually other manufacturers introduce similar and better devices resulting his sales goes down?

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