Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Capacity Focus, 43: Putting Tablets and Tablet Operating Systems in educational computing context -- in light of Apple's sales revenues and products trends

Apple, by any measure, is now a runaway success story. 

As at 3:04 pm today, May 9, 2012, Apple's Market capitalisation stood at US$ 531.26 billions, up from about US$350 - 380 billions at Steve Jobs' death last summer. (Apparently, in April, the value briefly hit US$ 600 billion.)

That's a solid growth of over US$100 billion in value in less than a year.

The most important point of Apple's success, though, is not the PC market. In fact Apple's no 1 product line is the iPhone, which now outsells Samsung as the no 1 smartphone. (The once dominant Blackberry is in serious trouble.)

A graph, under fair use, from Jay Yarow of Business Insider, Jan 25, 2012, is eye-opening:

Obviously, the iPhone dominates Apple's sales, and is its fastest growing segment -- the other lines are riding on it, as the graph shows.

But, the sheer size of what is happening with the iPhone makes it hard to see that the iPad is overtaking the Mac conventional desktop and notebook computer lines Apple also offers. 

In fact, according to the same article, the iPad -- just the iPad! --  is now selling more than desktop PC's are in the US market, and is 17% of the conventional PC market. (They also point out that 15.4 million iPads were sold [NB: in the fourth quarter of 2011], three times the number of Kindle Fires, at about twice the Fire's ~ US$ 200 price, and of course at a profit. (The Kindle fire is apparently sold at a marginal loss, to lock customers into the Kindle e-book market.))

Clearly, the tablet is an acceptable -- even, trendy -- format for computing, especially for information consumption.  Essentially, a giant screen smartphone (sometimes without the phone). That is, tablets use smart phone operating systems -- the background program that sets up the context in which applications can do their job, such as Windows. And they therefore use versions of smart phone apps, to do interesting things.

Thus, the explosive growth of smart phones that is now being led by the iPhone shifts the balance of operating systems and applications [or, "apps"], not only for Apple's iOS, but for the main competitor to the iOS, the Android OS.

Which, is where we came in.

For, that sets up the context in which the anticipated US$100 or so 7" Android tablet as a platform for educational content, is quite credible.  For, if we look at the graph it will show us how from 2006 on,  the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad have each in succession become strong success stories, clustering on being portable, personal affordable and effective digital devices.

And of course, such a unit is right at the sweet spot for a personal digital education access platform that can handle books, digital library access, browsing, multimedia and light document processing sufficient for most assignments. END