Nobody needs an iPad, after all. This is pure discretionary spending. For that matter, most people don’t really need a smartphone, either, yet worldwide sales will be up 55 percent this year, according to IDC.
The post-PC era is upon us, and the biggest names in tech are battling to see who will rule this new market for smartphones and tablet computers, cranking out myriad new plastic-and-glass rectangles that let you carry the Internet in your pocket or purse and stay connected 24/7. Amazon just announced four new Kindle devices, including a top-end model that will compete against Apple’s phenomenally popular iPad. Apple is promoting a new version of its pricey iPhone. A slew of others, including most notably Motorola, Research in Motion (RIM), and Samsung, are cranking out their own versions.
Have these guys not read the newspaper lately? Have they seen the headlines about the dreary economy? Sales of high-end TVs and other consumer-electronics products have been in a swoon, according to NPD Group, a market-research firm.
But somehow mobile Internet products are bucking the trend. The best example is Apple, which is notorious for its higher-than-the-competition prices but nevertheless is doing better than ever. Last quarter, Apple’s total revenue nearly doubled as the company sold 20 million iPhones, up 142 percent from the previous year, and 9.25 million iPads, a gain of 182 percent. They’re not cheap—the iPad starts at $499 and goes as high as $829, and the top-end iPhone costs $299, with a contract.
Nobody needs an iPad, after all. This is pure discretionary spending. For that matter, most people don’t really need a smartphone, either, yet worldwide sales will be up 55 percent this year, according to IDC, a market researcher. Smartphones that run Google’s Android operating system tend to cost a little less than an iPhone, but they’re still not cheap. The best Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S II, will run you $199. And, like the iPhone, it has been a smash hit, selling 10 million units in its first five months on the market, with most of those sales coming from outside the United States. Samsung’s overall smartphone sales have been up nearly 400 percent this year.
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