iPad: It’s more than just the hardware

on March 15, 2012

It seems that every time a new tablet comes on the market, people compare the hardware to Apple’s market leading iPad and wonder if this is the one that will dethrone it. The problem with this thinking is that the iPad isn’t just about the hardware and specs, it’s the experience.

iPad screen imageCompanies like Samsung can put together a piece of hardware that is similar — although still not as good — as the iPad, but they still lack the infrastructure that makes the iPad appealing to consumers.

People generally don’t care as much about specs as they do about what they can do with the device. You can list off the specs for the new iPad and people will just nod politely and smile.

However, if you tell them that with iCloud all of their information will be across every Apple device they own, including computers, you can see a light go off.

Explain to people that with iTunes Match they can access their entire music library without taking up any space on the iPad, and they will get that.

These are the things, in combination with the hardware, that make the iPad what it is. These are also the things that continue to elude Apple’s competitors.

No other company in the tablet or smartphone space have the infrastructure that Apple does. In that respect, Apple is almost 10 years ahead of its competitors.

Apple started building the foundation for what we see today with the release of the first iPod. Then with the release of iTunes, to give users a hub for syncing music and the iTunes Store, the company was well on its way controlling online sales of media.

Of course, the iTunes Store has expanded greatly since those early days and now sells movies, music videos, TV shows, and now apps for its mobile devices. That really tipped the scales.

A consumer with an iPad can purchase everything they need directly from Apple. All of the music or other media they may want, and keep all of their information synced between multiple devices. The best part is, it’s all done by simply entering your Apple ID.

When I picked up my new iPad from Apple after the event in San Francisco last week, I had it set up in minutes. I entered my Apple ID and all of my contacts, calendars and email were there waiting for me.

Not only that, I had access to all of the apps I purchased — no searching through the store trying to remember what I bought. I tapped 20 or so apps and they installed. My Apple ID also synced my iTunes Match music so I was listening, syncing and productive within minutes of having the device in my hands. I didn’t even need a computer.

All of my purchases in one place, instantly.

That can’t be matched in the market today. And it’s not for lack of trying. Other companies have tried to duplicate what Apple does, but they always come up short.

Apple has a way of making difficult tasks seem very easy. It’s mind boggling to think of all of the things going on in the background on an iPad, but all the consumer sees is their data is synced and they can access their media. That’s the way it should be.

While companies like Samsung and other tablet makers boast about specs, Apple explains what you can do with the iPad. You can create music with apps like GarageBand, edit images with iPhoto, record 1080p video, write documents, make spreadsheets, play games, create presentations and many other things with the more than 200,000 native iPad apps.

The iPad is about the experience and Apple has that locked up.