Good news for Apple: the only tablet that could give its iPad 2 a serious run for its money is one that doesn't exist – and doesn't even seem to be in development.
That's the view of analyst firm Forrester Research, which has dismissed all the current tablet pretenders to Apple's throne as having “fatally flawed product strategies”.
Forrester gives its uncompromising views in a new report in which it says the iPad 2's current rivals are “solid products” but are too expensive and can't match the iPad for having the physical Apple Store network as a delivery channel.
The company says its research shows consumers add value to Apple's products because of the “human factor” of in-store service, which in the iPad 2's case only adds value to an already attractively priced device.
“Compare the experience of walking into an Apple Store, where the iPad is front and center, to walking into a [network] store where the Samsung Galaxy Tab is collecting dust at the back of the store and the sales reps don’t quite know what to make of it,” Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps argues in a blog post accompanying the report.
“Or walking into a Best Buy store, whose shelves will soon be lined with similar-looking tablets with similar functionality.”
Forrester dismisses these rivals as unlikely to gather more than 20% of the market collectively in 2011, but singles out Amazon as having the internal structure to target a market that it says is “ripe for disruption”, giving an honourable mention to Sony, Microsoft, and Vizio as well.
“Amazon could create a compelling Android- or Linux-based tablet offering easy access to Amazon’s storefront (including its forthcoming Android app store) and unique Amazon features like one-click purchasing, Amazon Prime service, and its recommendations engine,” Epps writes.
She adds that Amazon has the motivation to do it, considering how Apple has threatened its business model through its in-app payment control system. Amazon also has the ability to price a tablet cheaply and then make up the difference by selling content, as it does at present with the Kindle.
Lastly, Epps argues, Amazon has the brand, content and channel to get the job done. According to Forrester's research, “more consumers considering buying a tablet say that they would consider Amazon (24%) than Motorola (18%). [In addition], 28% of consumers considering buying a tablet say they would prefer to buy it from an online retailer like Amazon, compared with 11% that say they’d prefer to purchase a tablet from a carrier.”
Looks like the only thing remaining is the small matter of Amazon actually building the thing...