I first heard about DVDs in late March 1997, sitting in the back seat of a friend's car as her now-husband explained this new video format that had just gone on sale weeks earlier. Having just gotten my VCR, it was pretty hard to fathom picking up another piece of hardware anytime soon.
Within the next year, I saw DVDs appear at the local Suncoast and people gradually began taking to them. The clincher? Eventually, the price of DVDs dropped to where you were paying a cheaper price and getting better quality. Consumers gravitated to the new format, and the rest is history -- the DVD took off and never looked back.
The iPad? It took off a lot faster. CNBC has the story from Colin McGranahan, a retail analyst at Bernstein Research, who dug into the adoption rates.
McGranahan points out that Apple sold 3 million iPads within the first 80 days of launch. By contrast, there were a million iPhones sold in the first quarter of release... and only 350,000 DVD players sold in all of 1997. Keep in mind, when it comes to non-phone electronics products, McGranahan says that DVD players had the fastest adoption rate ever before the iPad (presumably meaning new categories of gadgets). The sales rate of the iPad after one quarter matches up with the DVD sales rate after five years. The iPod's first year? A similarly modest 375,000 devices sold.
Of course, the DVD player was fighting an established product in VHS, and the iPad had the iPhone and iPod touch (not to mention the App Store) to soften the ground for it -- but still, that's not bad for a product that some vocal critics gave lousy first reviews. The original predictions of a million units sold in the first year seem remarkably conservative in the face of a likely run rate of 18 million iPads.
Granted, Apple does have a history of defying the odds.