It is, to use an already tired cliche, the year of the tablet. Today we’ll see if the rumored iPad Mini looks like we expect, tomorrow we get Windows 8 and the Microsoft Slate, then Google will allegedly release an updated Nexus 7 and a larger Nexus 10 next week. It seems that if you don’t have a tablet out this Christmas then you’re a technology nobody. And why not? In less than three years the consumer technology landscape has drastically changed first with the rise of the smartphone, and now with the tablet as a realistic PC killer, and companies are desperate to get a slice of the market for themselves.
Also expect this week to herald a slew of industry analysts proclaiming either incredible success or terrible failure. But before you give these predictions any credence, check out the chart below (which I’ve created thanks to a great blog posts by asymco and Forbes). It shows just how spectacularly wrong pretty much every analyst was when the first iPad launched in 2010.
As you can see, some very important people were left with an awful lot of egg on their faces; even the most bullish forecast was less than 50% correct when compared to the actual year one sales. And since then, sales have continued to accelerate, with Apple selling more than 17 million iPads in Q2 of this year (helped by a healthy app ecosystem, particularly games.)
I particularly like this quote from Forrester at the time:
“iPad is the right device for the wrong consumer. We think there’s a fundamental disconnect between the design of the device and the profile of the customer who would most benefit from using it.”
Too bad they were wrong to the tune of about $6,000,000,000 in sales.
Of course, it’s fair to say that hardly anyone imagined that tablets would take off in the way they have, with the iPad still accounting for 70% of the devices sold. In technology, revolutions are predicted on a daily basis, and hardly ever do we see something emerge that overnight changes the way we work, play and consume in the way that tablets have.
It’s unlikely that by this time next week we’ll have seen anything from Apple, Microsoft and Google that will have the impact that the first iPad has had; but it will be interesting to look back in a year or so and see with the benefit of hindsight whether some highly paid experts still need to do their sums a bit better.