There’s a colossal wave of tablets due to hit this year. Dozens and dozens of the things. We recently took a look at the iPad 2 and some of its biggest rivals in our three-part (for now, at least) Attack of the Tablets feature.
The feature really got me thinking. Some of the iPad 2 alternatives look hugely impressive but, being completely realistic, not one of them stands a chance of knocking Apple’s slate from its throne. That’s not to say they can’t be successful in their own right, but the iPad 2 – like it or not – will kick each of them individually in the privates.
Existing market share
ABI Research recently estimated that 93% of tablets sold were iPads. True, that figure was based on Q3 of 2010 when there wasn’t much competition; the Samsung Galaxy Tab was probably the most attractive of the non-iPads back then. But regardless, that’s an insane figure. Imagine nine out of every ten mobile users had an iPhone, or 93% of motorists driving the same car.
That figure will inevitably drop this year, but it remains to be seen just how much of a dent these new tablets can make.
The iPad 2 adds front and rear cameras, yet it’s slimmer and lighter than its predecessor; Apple’s new 1GHz A5 processor is said to be quite nippy; there’s also HDMI out support. Despite all of these improvements, the price is exactly the same. And let’s not forget that Apple has knocked £100 off of the original iPad.
Meanwhile, the Motorola Xoom, which was released in the States a few weeks ago, is more expensive. Indeed, many of these new tablets are expected to be pricier than the iPad.
Imagine, if you will, the average Joseph with a few hundred quid to burn. Will he choose Apple’s cheaper, tried and tested iPad, or a more expensive Android (erm, or Windows) alternative?
The iPhone analogy
Android might be kicking iOS’ butt in some regions, but remember that’s based on operating systems. We’re not looking at, say, the HTC Desire vs the iPhone, we’re comparing literally hundreds of phones vs one handset from Apple.
Android’s success is also due in part to the range of budget phones adopting the OS, but it’s not like there are scores of cheap Android tablets. On that basis, it’s probably fair to say Android won’t trouble Apple quite as much in the tablet world.
Apple’s devices are household names. Everyone and their gran has heard of the iPhone and iPod. Indeed, in recent years, “iPod” has become a synonym for “mp3 player”.
I dare say the iPad isn’t quite as well known among less technical types, but you can bet if Joe Average is pushed to name just one tablet, he ain’t gonna say the dual-booting Windows/Android ViewSonic ViewPad 10.
Quite simply, people want Apple stuff. That's why, in the three months or so that we've been around, we haven't posted a single iPhone deal. It doesn't need to drop in price to shift units.
I’m not sure which attitude is worse: “Oh crap, the iPad 2 looks pretty good and we’re completely doomed,” or a naïve-sounding: “Check out our tablet – it’s an iPad-killer for sure!” Yeah, probably the first one.
Following the iPad 2 launch, Samsung’s vice-president Lee Don-Joo was clearly troubled, saying that the “inadequacies” of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – including its chunkiness – had to be addressed.
Of course, a few days later he semi-retracted, saying: “We will continue to make every effort to provide the most powerful, well-designed and productive mobile device to customers.”
In any case, it’s clear the iPad 2 has many competitors quaking in their proverbial boots. Except Toshiba, that is.
Just a few months after its ill-fated Folio 100 was pulled from shelves, Tosh has confidently returned to the tablet arena with an as-yet-unnamed slate. Rob Wilkinson, GM of Toshiba Australia's Information Systems Division, says: “We believe that our device is superior to the Apple device, it may be a little heavier (773g) but it does have a lot of features that the iPad 2 does not have.”
Superior it may be, technically, but no amount of bravado can hide the fact that these guys, all of them, face a steep uphill battle against the iPad 2