While tablet computers are poised to be a top-selling product this holiday season, Apple has cut its fourth-quarter manufacturing orders for the iPad 2 by 25 percent, according to JPMorgan analysts (via ). The move could signal preparations for holiday-season introduction of a third-generation iPad; or it could represent Apple’s revision of its iPad sales forecast as Amazon readies a rival tablet for market (via ).
Speculation abounds that Amazon will introduce a Kindle-branded device that will be competitively priced against other tablets, with a model featuring a 7-inch screen perhaps selling for $250 (via PC World). The device also may include membership in Amazon Prime, a service package that offers streaming movie and video rentals as well as unlimited two-day shipping on physical purchases from the online retailer.
Apple began selling its Lion upgrade to the OSX operating system as a $29.99 digital download from its App Store today, one day after the company announced that its iPad business has overtaken revenue from Mac computer sales.
During its third fiscal quarter, Apple sold 9.2 million iPads, worth $6 billion in revenue, while it sold 3.9 million Macs worth $5.1 billion in revenue (tables at SplatF). Discussing the quarter’s results during an analyst call, Apple chief operating officer Tim Cook said that is was “clear” some of the company’s customers were purchasing iPads instead of new Mac computers. “But what really excites us,” claimed Cook, “is more customers chose to buy an iPad than a Windows PC” during the quarter (via ).
The Lion upgrade introduces iPad-inspired features to the PC interface; reviewing the performance of the OS as well as the digital installation procedure, The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg acknowledges Lion as a “big leap” from Apple’s previous Snow Leopard OS. “If you are willing to adjust,” Mossberg says, “it’s the best computer operating system out there.”
More than one third of tablet computer owners (34%) already spend more time each day using their devices than they do watching TV, according to new research from Google’s AdMob. The survey of some 1,400 tablet users reveals game playing to be the most common tablet activity, at 84% of respondents; more than half (51%) consume entertainment such as music or videos on their devices.
Among other findings on the nature of tablet use: 68% of tablet users spend at least 1 hour a day on their tablet, and 82% primarily use their tablet at home.
Comcast says it plans to roll out a “play now” feature to its Xfinity iPad app in the coming weeks, enabling pay-TV subscribers to watch nearly 3,000 hours of on-demand content (release here).
According to the cable operator, app users will be able to watch TV shows or movies on demand either at home or on the go, including anywhere there is a wireless connection. Comcast plans to add more titles to the app’s VOD library in the months ahead, and bring the same functionality and content to Android-powered tablet devices later this year.
The company released its Xfinity iPad app this past November.
Industry expectations over 3D home entertainment and media tablets such as Apple’s iPad are approaching their respective peaks, according to a new “hype cycle” forecast by marketing research firm Gartner.
The forecast (via CNET) plots the emerging technologies — along with a host of others, such as private cloud computing — on a modified sine wave curve of industry expectations over time. After reaching the “peak of inflated expectations,” new technologies are generally cast into a “trough of disillusionment” from both consumers and prospective industry participants before ascending a “slope of enlightenment” and prospering on a “plateau of productivity,” Gartner says.
Technologies generally survive the correction of expectations; Gartner estimates both 3D home displays and media tablets are two to five years away from mass adoption.
More on the research firm’s methodology here.
“Unlike the iPhone, which filled an already well-established need (cellular telephone usage), there is no existing need the iPad fills. That is, unless you’re an iPhone or iPod touch user,” writes TechCrunch’s MG Siegler. “If that’s the case, the iPad does fill a couple of needs — it’s the best way to use apps, and more importantly, the best way to browse the web in a style that is likely your preferred method: by touching it.” By TechCrunch
Apple’s putative tablet computer will likely serve as a book reader, Web-surfing device and games player, a combination of features that could lure potential buyers of Amazon’s Kindle. Even more worrying for Amazon: Apple’s device puts the company in a position to target Amazon’s core media offerings. By The Wall Street Journal
Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner is making waves with a prediction that Apple will ship a 10.1-inch touch-screen tablet in spring 2010, with book publishers poised to sell titles via Apple’s online media storefront. By Wired