Over at Technologizer, Harry McCracken has a great post comparing some of the early skepticism around the iPad to that of the iPhone; it was a topic that came up in the TUAW Talkcast that I participated in last night. Personally, while I certainly remember some skepticism regarding the lack of a physical keyboard or 3G (the latter ultimately addressed) in the original iPhone, I remember the overall reaction as far more positive than that for the iPad. Most people were impressed by the iPhone, but turned off by its pricing whereas the iPad pricing has been perceived as quite reasonable or perhaps even aggressive.
But is it? Over at The NPD Group Blog, I’ve provided my take on its value versus standalone electronics, but let’s look at more directly competitive products. The answer is yes if you compare it to Tablet PCs or Apple’s notebooks, maybe if you compare it to netbooks, and not so much when you compare it to some of the other large tablets introduced by startups in the past year, at least on the face value of hardware.
Take, for example, the embattled Joojoo by Fusion Garage, which also intends to debut at $499. It has a 12” capacitive touchscreen as opposed to the iPad’s 9.7” screen, and it can handle Flash and Hulu, albeit with only half the battery life of the iPad. Then there’s Always Innovating’s Touch Pad with an 8.9” touchscreen and a keyboard attachment that turns it into a functional, albeit non-Windows-based, netbook. Like the iPad, it boasts ten hours of battery life and costs just $299 or $399 with the keyboard.
Neither of these products blow away the iPad in terms of absolute pricing or value, but remember that they are from small startups with no brand and are producing limited volumes compared with the millions of units that the iPad will likely ship in 2010. The iPad’s price is a breakthrough judged against the fictional rumors that preceded it, rumors that may have been based on features and added cost it did not have. Not to take anything away from the engineering that went into offering the iPad at its price, but it’s pretty easy to hit a bullseye when the rest of the world is giving you the side of a barn on which to paint it.