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The iPad's incredible effect on the PC industry is only beginning


We already know based on Apple's latest quarterly earnings report that the iPad is pretty much eating the PC industry's lunch. Writing for Forbes, Bob Evans points out that as impressive as the iPad's effect on the industry has been thus far, we've only begun to see the sea change Apple's tablet device is triggering.

Evans offers five reasons why the iPad seems to be taking over the industry, and in each case he believes the iPad's real disruptive potential has yet to be realized. First, he repeats Apple COO Tim Cook's remarks from the last financial call, where he stated that while Apple was seeing slight cannibalization of Mac sales because of the iPad, the effect was relatively small compared to the devastation present in the rest of the PC industry. Mac sales were up 14 percent last quarter, but growth in the rest of the industry is a far smaller 2.6 percent.

It's not just everyday consumers driving the iPad's growth, either. Multiple studies have come out showing how eagerly businesses are adopting the iPad for enterprise applications, and the recent launch of Apple's B2B volume purchasing program is likely to drive even greater adoption of the iOS platform. As Evans points out, part of the reason enterprise adoption of the iPad is so high is that businesses are finding uses for the device that Apple never expected.

Apple's retail stores are another reason Evans offers for the iPad's success. Apple Stores arguably made the Mac, iPod, and iPhone more successful than they would have been otherwise, and it's no stretch to say the same is true of the iPad.

Perhaps the most important predictor of the iPad's future success is iPad use by children. Young kids in particular are growing up in a world where touchscreen tablets are a fact of life. I grew up with the Apple II already part of the toolset in my kindergarten, so it's almost impossible for me to comprehend a world without personal computers. Will today's kindergarteners feel the same way about hardware like the iPad? It's entirely possible.

As Evans says, the iPad has been on the market for less than a year and a half. We're only seeing the beginning of its effects on the industry. Think back to the mid-80s, when the Mac first came out, and consider how long it took before GUI-based computers became a home appliance every bit as "necessary" as the T.V. Or think back to the early 2000s, and how many years it took before the iPod supplanted both CD players and other mp3 players as the king of the portable music player industry. The iPad has already had a huge impact, but it's only the beginning.

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