March 1, 2011, 12:11 PM

Apple aims to gobble up market share with the iPad 2

Learn lessons now from retailers with powerful iPad apps.

Lead Photo

The original iPad. Version 2 will debut March 2.

It’s amazing how slow so many companies are to respond to Apple Inc. when Apple comes out with a boffo new product that takes the world by storm. An explosion of tablet PCs, many powered by Google Inc.’s Android operating system, is just beginning—see Motorola’s Xoom and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. But Apple on Wednesday will already be unveiling the second version of its phenomenally popular iPad, which debuted in April 2010.

Industry estimates put the iPad’s share of the tablet PC market near 90%, likely to shrink to around 75% a few years from now. That’s still three-quarters of a market that’s expected to reach 26.0 million tablets sold this year and 82.1 million tablets sold in 2015, Forrester Research Inc. says. The iPad 2 is Apple’s trump card for 2011 to hold the onslaught of Android tablets at bay.

And I think it will work. That mysterious allure infused by Apple into its mobile products—think the ubiquitous iPod and iPhone—will continue to draw excited consumers in the market for a tablet to the iPad 2. Its perfect size, highly intuitive features and robust functionality have a lot to do with it, too.

While everything today is still a secret, it’s widely anticipated that the iPad 2 will have cameras in the front and back—for taking pictures and video, and for Internet-based video chats. It also will probably be running Apple’s new dual-core A5 processor, which will enhance an already fast and powerful machine. And it will be lighter and thinner than the original iPad. I’m sure there will be other upgrades, as well.

A figure that really sticks with me is 82.8%. 82.8% of all mobile traffic at one retailer studied by Forrester Research stemmed from an Apple device: 33.1% from the iPhone, 3.2% from the iPod Touch, and, the one to watch, 46.5% from the iPad. Keep your eyes on your web logs, look for iPad traffic, and watch it climb as Apple sells millions of the iPad 2 this year.

You’ll soon see if you haven’t already that you have to cater to iPad customers, and customers with any type of tablet. This may mean offering an optimized site (don’t forget Apple mobile devices don’t run Flash), or it may mean doing that and creating an iPad app. That’s for you to judge based on who your customers are and what kind of products you sell. And on the iPad and tablet traffic you see in your web logs.

What I recommend you do first is carefully study the iPad apps from various pioneering retailers, including Amazon.com Inc., Bluefly Inc., eBay Inc., Express LLC, Gilt Groupe, The Golf Warehouse (TGW Catalog), HSN Inc., The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Peapod LLC, Polo Ralph Lauren, QVC, Sears Holdings Corp., Wine.com Inc. and Zappos.com. These are leaders with great iPad experiences who can give you some ideas to lead you on your way to tablet success.

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