Steve Jobs notably introduced the iPad as an entirely new class of device: "something in the middle"
between a laptop and a smartphone. It's a smart approach, because it potentially appeals to anyone who would get either an iPod or a MacBook: pretty much everybody. But the pitch has left users without a clear idea about what the device would be good for and why they would want one. A couple of new surveys released today highlight the confusion, with potential users saying different things about what they'd be most likely to use an iPad to do.
Sybase made its bones developing relational database management software in the 80s and 90s, notably licensing its database engine as the SQL Server on OS/2. After the tech bubble burst, Sybase reorganized its business to focus on what it calls the "unwired enterprise:" bringing access to corporate databases to mobile clients. As a part of this business, it periodically commissions surveys to see what direction the industry is moving in. Sybase hired Zogby to poll over two thousand people
, about a quarter of whom currently use smartphones. According to the survey, 52.3% of the smartphone users said they'd most likely to use a new tablet device like the iPad to do work, while 48.2% said they'd watch movies and TV shows, and 35.4% would play games.
In a separate survey, the market research firm comScore also asked about two thousand people what they thought they'd use an iPad for
. Nearly half said they'd use it for browsing the Internet and email (50% and 48% respectively), and more than a third said they would use it for listening to music (38%). As far as e-reading goes, 375 of respondents said they'd be “likely” or “very likely” to use it to read books and magazines, but about the same (28%) said they'd be “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to do that. Interestingly, current iPhone/iPod owners (grouped together in the survey as "iOwners") overwhelmingly seemed to like the idea of newspapers and magazines formatted specifically for the iPad, with a full 52% of respondents said they’d pay for newspaper and magazine digital subscriptions. Other responses included maintaining an address book/contact list (37 percent), watching videos/movies (36 percent), storing and viewing photos (35 percent) and reading newspapers and magazines (34 percent).
When a new technology comes on the market, it's always a mystery what the ultimate use will be. One of the first home computers ever made, the $7,000 Honeywell Kitchen Computer
, touted its abilities to maintain a database of recipes. The killer app for the iPad may not have even have been been invented yet.