updated 05:50 pm EST, Wed March 2, 2011
Jobs touts iPad outselling Tablet PC but misquotes
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs used his iPad 2 event as a platform to criticize not just other mobile tablet makers but Microsoft as well. The original iPad's 15 million sales in 2010 not only gave it 90 percent of the market but saw it outsell every tablet to date, including Tablet PCs using Windows. Nine months was all it took to deliver "more than every tablet PC ever sold," he boasted.
The remarks are a symbolic embarrassment to Microsoft. It formally launched the Tablet PC platform with Windows XP Tablet Edition in November 2002 but has never accounted for more than a very small fraction of the larger tablet market. Adding multi-touch and a friendlier interface with Windows 7 has had little effect. Estimates for the platform have been low enough that shipments may have shrunk from about 1.5 million in 2009 to 1.25 million in 2010.
Tablet PC has been widely considered a personal obsession of original Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, who even as recently as 2010 has insisted that every tablet must have a pen and behave as much like a traditional PC as possible.
Jobs during the event on Wednesday specifically rejected this argument, not just for Microsoft but also for companies like HP, Motorola, RIM, and Samsung. The tablet was a "post-PC" device that had to be easier than a computer and have its hardware and software more directly integrated, he said. With the exceptions of HP and RIM, none of the other companies were making their own software and were instead approaching it from a PC-like perspective.
In criticizing other platforms, he also stressed their lack of apps. Android 3.0 and others were starting with less than 100 apps where the iPad already had 65,000. For them, 2011 was the "year of the copycats," but it was ultimately the iPad 2's year, Jobs retorted.
While most of the claims were accurate, Jobs made a significant mistake in attempting to downplay the sales of the Galaxy Tab. He cited a common interpretation of Samsung's fiscal results call that suggested real Tab sales were "quite small" when the company later corrected itself and said they were "quite smooth." Its performance was still less than a seventh of what Apple managed, and the company hasn't said how many of the tablets reached real customers rather than carrier and retail stores.
Android 3.0's overall performance remains to be seen without LG, Samsung and most others on the market, but Microsoft is currently in a holding pattern. It has devoted most of its attention to a tablet-ready Windows 8 with ARM processor support and might not have its own alternative until late 2012, two and a half years after the iPad first shipped.