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iPad vs. iPhone: Which had the better launch?

May 3, 2010 |  1:58 pm

Apple has sold more than 1 million iPad units, the company announced Monday. It said that it hit the milestone April 30 -- just 28 days after the tablet launched. The feat is even more impressive when one considers that it took Apple 74 days to sell 1 million iPhone units when it debuted in 2007. IPad 3G

But that wasn't the only difference between launches of the iPad and the original iPhone. Believe it or not, the iPad's debut has trumped the iPhone's in several ways. And those factors have helped Apple's tablet enjoy such early success.

Sales

As Steve Jobs reported in a statement Monday, it took Apple 74 days for Apple to reach the 1-million-iPhones-sold milestone in 2007. The company achieved that feat with the iPad after just 28 days.

At first glance, that might not mean much. But consider the iPhone's success to this point and the way in which Apple has been able to attract more customers each year. If it can do the same with the iPad, the company's tablet could be as successful as the iPhone in no time.

Software

There's little debate that the iPad launched with much better software than the iPhone.

iPhone OS 1.0 lacked copy-and-paste, a native App Store, Exchange support -- a must-have for enterprise customers -- and much more. That said, at the time the software was groundbreaking. Nowadays, it would be a hobbled mess compared with what we currently enjoy.

The iPad's OS is nothing of the sort. Yes, it would have been nice if Apple added a native weather app, but what it lacks in forecasting it makes up for in offering all those original iPhone omissions (and then some). Granted, the iPad came out three years after the iPhone, which makes it tough to compare the software both devices offered at launch, but from a purely feature-based perspective, there is no contest.

Apps

The iPad launched with users having the ability to download more than 5,000 applications built for the tablet directly onto the device, or about 200,000 apps designed for the iPhone. That alone is a major feat, especially considering competitors, like the Android Market and RIM's BlackBerry App World, have been unable to come anywhere near Apple's app tally.

But it wasn't always like that. When the original iPhone debuted, the device lacked an app store. In its place, users needed to surf to Safari and access sites that offered Web-based applications. The experience wasn't bad, but it made most desire native applications even more.

Connectivity

When the original iPhone hit store shelves, it could connect to AT&T's Edge network or via Wi-Fi. And although high-speed 3G connectivity was available through AT&T's network at the time, it wasn't offered to iPhone customers for another year.

The inability to have access to a high-speed network proved to be an issue for the iPhone. Users attempting to access Web content quickly became frustrated by how slow the Edge connection was. It was arguably the most glaring issue that Apple faced with the original version of the iPhone.

The iPad is slightly different. The tablet's Wi-Fi-only model is awfully similar to the original iPhone, since it doesn't allow users to connect to a high-speed Web connection when away from a wireless hotspot. But the iPad 3G model does. Along with Wi-Fi connectivity, users can connect to the Web with the iPad 3G on AT&T's high-speed 3G network while away from home.

Pricing Model

When it first launched, Apple's iPhone went on sale for $499 for the 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB model. Granted, at the time the technology was new, so prices were far higher than they were for the rest of the mobile phones on the market. Still, it was a steep price to pay just to be able to use a next-generation product. That's why Apple eventually discontinued the 4GB model and dropped the price of the iPhone just a couple of months after launch.

Apple learned from its mistakes with the iPad. The device comes in six different flavors, which are priced according to the amount of storage a user wants and whether they plan to connect to the Web via 3G. And although the low-end version of the iPad starts at the same price as the original iPhone -- $499 -- users are getting much more for that money. Plus, they don't need to pay a monthly fee to AT&T just to use the device.

In the end, Apple's iPad launch appears to be a success. And based on sales figures, it might have been an even greater success than the iPhone's. But that certainly doesn't mean that the iPad will be more successful than the iPhone. At this point, anything can happen.

-- Don Reisinger

twitter.com/donreisinger

Image: Apple's iPad 3G. Credit: Apple

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