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Why 2012 Will Be the Year of the Android Tablet 584

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-all-scream-for-ice-cream dept.
lseltzer writes "The iPad has dominated the high-end tablet market so far, but that is about to change. At CES in Las Vegas in a couple weeks you will see tablets running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) everywhere and at prices that will make an iPad a lot harder to justify. The competition from the OEM model in the Android markets will massively shift market share away from Apple, just as it has done in the smart phone market."
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Why 2012 Will Be the Year of the Android Tablet

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  • Sure, and just as with smartphones, "All Android Phones" will be bigger in the market than the mere iPhone. But look at any individual manufacturer, and that "All Android Phone" share is sliced into so many tiny pieces that Apple dwarfs them. Same with the iPad - Android tablets together may take over 50% of the market... but no individual Android tablet is going to have more than 5%.
  • "The Year Of" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@l u n arworks.ca> on Friday December 23, 2011 @09:59AM (#38470592) Homepage

    Every time some tech columnist makes some glorious prediction that "[YEAR] Will Be The Year Of [TECH]", I roll my eyes.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:02AM (#38470616)

    And all sides will fire off patent lawsuits over trivial features like form filling and email forming. The lawyers will get rich the market will be blocked and confused.

    All hail patents the great pusher of innovation, NOT.

  • Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lennier1 (264730) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:03AM (#38470624)

    It that's going to happen it will become the year of the Apple lawsuits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:04AM (#38470636)

    That doesn't matter, fanboi. Just ask Apple's board what they think about going from 98% dominance to 40-50% in just 18 months. They're shitting themselves. Apple will still be the dominant device because they offer no options, just a bump in storage until the next incarnation. And zealots like you will buy += iDevice regardless of what else is available.

    98% to half that in a matter of months, that's going to really hurt. Apple will have to offer a range to keep up. They'll need a smaller cheaper device to fend of the masses that are going for nooks and fires (tech will allow it, but Apple's SharperImage "quality self-delusion may prevent that. They'll also need to move over to the standard 16:9 screen ratio at some point. Does any modern company make consumer based screens with 4:3 except Apple?

    As Apple's dominance in slabs falls at alarming rates, MS will also join as late comers, no doubt diluting the iPad share further. Especially in the business sector where IT dept buy in bulk from generic box shifters like Dell.

  • by enjar (249223) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:07AM (#38470648) Homepage

    The article seems to presume that there is a static size for the amount of people who buy tablets. There isn't. As lower-cost entries enter the market, people who previously could not afford one will be able to buy one. So the market will grow, but it's also likely that Apple's overall sales will grow as the market grows. So, sure, Apple's "market share" may shrink, but it's not like Apple's going to make less money than they did before.

    Also, there seems to be an assumption that people buy a tablet sorely based on cost. That is certainly part of how people buy something, but there are also metrics of quality, ease of use and also what you've got already. If you already have an iProduct, I'll bet people are a lot more attracted to the idea they can plug it into the iTunes that's already set up and have it work. Learning something new probably isn't a big driver, even if they save a hundred bucks. Apple could also drop prices on the iPad 2 when the 3 comes out, just as they have done with the iPhone when new generations have arrived, in order to compete with the lower end of the market.

  • Re:Kindle Fire (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Riceballsan (816702) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:09AM (#38470656)
    I have to agree, especially in this economy, people who need a functional device for 200 or less is a growing barely tapped market. Much like why the netbook market suddenly plummeted when most stores stopped carrying the $200 models and shifted all of their focus onto the $400-500 models. Companies tried to claim this was due to the ipad, but at least from what I saw, the vast majority of people I saw buying netbooks, were people who could not afford a laptop, but wanted something cheap and simple that they could take notes, check e-mail and update facebook on. Now that could be regional, I live in the south where we have far more people who are hesitant on technology then we do people who have tons of money and always want the latest and greatest.
  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:11AM (#38470674)

    This has been predicted over and over again - pretty much since the launch of the original iPad.

    It was always "Oh, the iPad was released for $500 less than everyone was guessing, but it's still way overprice! Just you wait for the cheaper, better, faster Android tablets.... any day now.... next month.... just a few more months! The Xoom is coming and it will destroy the iPad, I mean it will have Flash and an SD card slot, and there's no way it will cost more than an iPad and ship with both of those 'key' features broken... Oh, the iPad 2 is out now... well, what did you expect, honeycomb was never designed for tablets properly, even though we have been crowing about how it was going to be the answer to the 'inferior' iPad... just you wait for Ice Cream Sandwich...."

    In short, I've heard it all before. The Eee Pad Transformer is good I guess, and at $400 is cheaper than the iPad but so far not much headway. I really hope there are a few really competitive Android tablets to rival the iPad as there have been handsets to rival the iPhone - the competition is good for everyone. So far though, not seeing it.

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:13AM (#38470688) Homepage

    that have been saying this kind of stuff for years. iPod is lame. iPhone is a useless device. Nobody in their right mind will buy iPad. iPod's price will drive people to competitors. iPhone's price will make in untenable as a phone. iPad is priced more than a laptop, only idiots will pay for it.

    Blah, blah, blah. Once a week someone predicts that Apple has finally reached its apex and it's all downhill from here, as the products lack features, are too expensive, the garden is walled, and new competitors X, Y, and Z have finally figured it out and this will be their week|month|year.

    So far, this has always been empirically demonstrated to be so much crap by the time the next week|month|year has arrived. Of course, at some point Apple WILL fail, just like all companies and indeed all things in the universe eventually disintegrate, and because at least once a week someone predicts that this will happen this week, at some point someone will be right.

    But when that happens, it won't be because of any insight—just because the pundits have made sure to predict the failure of Apple during EVERY week|month|year cycle. And I seriously doubt this is the time, having just been at the local office supply chain store looking at Android tablets yesterday.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:17AM (#38470724)

    This is simply false. Samsung is easily in the same class as Apple by themselves with respect to Android phones.

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:33AM (#38470856) Homepage

    That... depends a lot. Do they have 40-50% share of a much larger market? Are they am making more, less, or the same amount per unit? I don't think Apple's board, or anyone else, ever expects to dominate any one niche forever. They don't need to. Apple's profits are rising. They make more per phone (and tablet) than any Android manufacturer and sell more units than any Android manufacturer. Their goal is make money, not dominate markets. They *still* make more profits on their computer division than any other single computer manufacturer, despite only being around 6 or 7 percent of the market share. When compared to "Windows PCs", Macs are a small minority of computers. When compared to "Dell PCs", Macs beat all the other manufacturers in sales and make more per unit. Dominating markets is nice, but it's not likely to last. Being a huge player in a much larger market makes just as much money and can last a good long while.

    Look at phones. For a while iPhone dominated the smartphone category. Then Android joined the fray. People started buying Android phones too. Eventually more people bought Android phones than iPhones, but here's the thing... More people were buying iPhones than ever before. Every ad for an iPhone is, in a way, and ad for an Android phone. Every ad for an Android phone is, in a way, an ad for an iPhone. Ads for both make people want smartphones, and that's good for everybody. Would you rather have the whole 12 inch diameter pie, or a quarter of a pie the size of a dining room table?

  • by Rhaban (987410) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:35AM (#38470870)

    2. Allow Android comparability. Android Apps are Java Based. Apple can put in a java interpreter and run Android apps. (So to the buyer... This things runs Android and iOS apps while this only runs Android... I guess I will pick the first one)

    This way, every developper would make their apps for android as it would run on both platforms, and the validation process would mean that every single iphone app will be 2 weeks late compared to the android version.
    Great idea.

  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:36AM (#38470874)

    As a platform - the important thing - Apple's star is waning. You can't compete with the rest of the industry just because some fan boys prefer how the screen scrolls when you swipe it, or whatever.

    As a platform....

    1. iOS still accounts for 2/3rd's of Google's mobile searches

    http://9to5mac.com/2011/09/21/google-23rds-of-our-mobile-search-comes-from-apples-ios/ [9to5mac.com]

    2. The Apple app store generates 4x the revenue of the Android app market....

    http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-app-store-2011-12 [businessinsider.com]

    3. And Apple generates more profit on the iPhone than the rest of the industry combined.....

    http://www.asymco.com/2011/07/29/apple-captured-two-thirds-of-available-mobile-phone-profits-in-q2/ [asymco.com]

  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:38AM (#38470892)

    That doesn't matter, fanboi. Just ask Apple's board what they think about going from 98% dominance to 40-50% in just 18 months.

    Last time I checked, the Apple board is probably concerned with revenues, profits, and ":increasing shareholder value".

    I'm sure they are not to upset that the most successful non-Apple tablets are sold at a loss....

  • Re:This is it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:38AM (#38470900)
    Oh, if I only had mod points ^_^

    This was my thought exactly... these 'this is the year of *insert personal preference*' get rather repetitive. People seem obsessed with whatever they like being accepted by the majority as the 'right' solution.. I guess it is an extension of the 'I am smart, there is one ideal, so if other people do not agree with me either I am stupid or they are stupid, so it is important that my choices for my use case are universally correct, otherwise my ego hurts' meme.
  • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:40AM (#38470912) Journal

    This is why developers flock to Apple. Apple has done the hard work of gathering the suckers of the world together so they can be quickly separated from their money.

  • by pauljlucas (529435) on Friday December 23, 2011 @10:58AM (#38471102) Homepage Journal

    With Android tablets though, because they come in such varieties and with such a selection of features you can have a much more personalised experience. Not to mention the fact that individual manufacturers can customise the interface, like HTC Sense and Samsung TouchWiz, to give you more opportunity to pick one that you like.

    For many people, more choice is a bad thing [ted.com].

  • Re:This is it! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ranton (36917) on Friday December 23, 2011 @11:42AM (#38471674)

    Desiring your prefered platform to "win" is not about wanting to feel superior. It is about wanting your platform to gain enough market share that vendors produce products for that platform.

  • by msauve (701917) on Friday December 23, 2011 @11:47AM (#38471744)
    "Too many tablet models means application developers can't rely on as much being present and have to buy more tablets on which to test."

    Just like PCs. I'd hate to be a PC developer these days, and have to buy thousands of them just to make sure my application was fully tested.
  • Re:This is it! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbolden (176878) on Friday December 23, 2011 @11:54AM (#38471826) Homepage

    There was a period where Mac's market share fell to around 2%. But it was always a premium 2%. The 2% that were most interested in quality and willing to pay. That's why Mac when it was around 6-7% market share represented something like 50% of all the profits. Mac users, spend much more on hardware and software.

    And that carries over. For example the iOS market place is 7x the size in dollar terms of the Android, Blackberry and Nokia marketplace combined.

    The problem for the Linux market on the desktop is not just the lack of share but the lack of a market. Linux wants the low end. Microsoft however, unlike the server market, is willing to price themselves down far enough to compete for the low end. In the server market Microsoft (like Apple) choose margin over marketshare, on the desktop they choose the reverse.

  • by jordanjay29 (1298951) on Friday December 23, 2011 @11:57AM (#38471860)
    Seriously? You must not have seen ASUS' Eee Pad Transformer or the Transformer Prime (I hate how people keep forgetting about that one). How innovative is it for your tablet to dock with a keyboard (which includes goodies like a battery and USB ports) and become kin to a netbook? It's not that ICS will be the catalyst. It's that the convergence of ICS on both Tablet and Phone will make it much easier to sell someone an Android tablet versus an iPad. Got that killer app for your phone? Stick it on your tablet and be even more productive with a big screen.
  • by jbolden (176878) on Friday December 23, 2011 @12:00PM (#38471896) Homepage

    Most of the Android phones were sold at carriers other than AT&T and at much lower price points. 2012 when Android comes up for renewal at Sprint and Verizon will be interesting. You'll have iPhones at all the same Android price points and available from the same carriers with the same data options. It really will be (excuse the pun) an apples to apples comparison. Many of the key aspects of Android like:

    -- Poor / no updates for OSes
    -- Incompatibility for apps.
    -- Crippled features from carriers
    -- Microsoft taking a licensing fee

    are starting to bite.

    I sincerely hope that Android continues to do well. While I'm an iPhone user I think the competition is in every consumer's interest. And certainly when I bought my iPhone I looked long and hard at some HTC models. While software helped, it was ultimately hardware, not software, that made me pick the iPhone.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday December 23, 2011 @12:28PM (#38472246)

    But is [Unity] truly bad for end users? As a default user interface for non-technical people, I think it's pretty good.

    I think it's terrible for end users. Making the "start menu" into a search field where you have to know the name of the program you're looking for is stupid, especially for someone first using the computer. It's like they don't want anyone to learn to use any programs other than the web browser.

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Friday December 23, 2011 @12:45PM (#38472470)
    I think it's like this: 2012 is the year of phone ensmartening - which is to say, a big proportion of the world's people will upgrade from a dumbphone to a smaprtphone. Many of them will do it with the attitude "I don't need a damn smartphone anyway, but if it's easier to text with that on-screen keyboard thingie, and my carrier will basically cover the costs, I might as well. So what's my carrier offering me for real cheap?" And you know very well that it will be some crappy Android handset. So yes, I see Android making much bigger gains in 2012 just because it's the default upgrade for billions. The iPhone simply isn't. You have to want one, you don't "get upgraded" to one.
  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday December 23, 2011 @01:20PM (#38472912)

    This shouldn't come to a shock to anyone. Mac except FOR A VERY SHORT period. Has always controlled their hardware (in some cases to their demise).

    You have a memory leak. The mac clones almost killed Apple. The problem was that the clones cannibalize sales of Apple macs rather than expanding the marketshare of Mac OS. They were also of worse quality leaving Apple with less sales but higher end user support costs as they had to troubleshoot mac os for those clone owners.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Friday December 23, 2011 @02:33PM (#38473824) Homepage

    As somebody who has both a HoneyComb tablet/Samsung 7" tablet and an iPad (original and 2) I have to say I am really really disappointed with Android. Android has four flaws:

    I have an ASUS Transformer and was lent an iPad 2 by a friend. Let's compare!

    1) Hardware update support SUCKS!

    Same thing here, my Galaxy S and Transformer both get fairly timely updates, but my friend's iPhones are blocked from getting new features like Siri even though the hardware is perfectly capable. Updates for Android make noticeable improvements where as most of the stuff in iOS updates just seems to be ways for Apple to wring more money out of you.

    2) The apps are lacking on Android

    There is a real lack of apps for iOS because so much is blocked from the App Store. Casual developers and open source projects won't pay the high fees and it also means apps tend to more more expensive and there are fewer free ones. Apple's ridiculous requirements mean you can't get lots of useful apps because they do things like allow you to execute scripts or load ROMs. There is also only one app store and you can't just buy apps via web sites, or back them up to SD card (or even use an SD card), or email them to another phone etc. I have a few apps that are non-market ones.

    Also lots of iOS apps just seem to be flashy graphics that slide and zoom nicely but the actual functionally it lacking. In particular there are no good backup apps like Titanium Backup for Android, or BitTorrent, or Tor, or emulators etc.

    3) Hardware software compatibility.

    The dock connector really sucks. What is wrong with USB? I have to carry a special charging/sync cable, and I have to use the shitty iTunes software just to copy some files off the damn thing. My Android phone has basically replaced the USB flash drive I used to carry. Apple also loves to break the peripherals from the last generation, especially 3rd party ones. The guy who lent me the iPad has some speakers that work perfectly with his iPod Classic but inexplicably don't work at all with his iPhone, even though the connector is the same and there doesn't seem to be any technical reason for it.

    Media support on the iPad is terrible too. Everything has to be converted by iTunes which takes ages and there is no Flash for video.

    4) The hardware is sub-standard by most, not all vendors in comparison to Apple.

    I'd say it's much better generally, at least on comparably priced devices.

    Now, a few points of my own:

    5) No user changeable battery. I push my phone quite hard and although battery life is better than what my friend's iPhone seems to get eventually that battery will wear out, and I want to be able to change it.

    6) No SD card, and I need iTunes just to access the damn thing. The amount Apple charges for an extra 16GB is outrageous, more than I can get a 64GB SD card for.

    7) No USB host support, I can plug any random USB gamepad into the Transformer and it just works.

    8) Lack of multitasking. I often want to copy/paste from the browser to Colornote or an email but on iOS you have to close each app before going to the other one. There are no background apps either, for instance I use a GPS logger while I am taking photos on my DSLR so I can geotag them later and it does it quietly while I can look at maps etc. without closing it.

    9) Poor screen. The iPad 2 screen is only 1024x768, too small for web browsing IMHO. I upgraded my old Thinkpad laptop because the screen was only 1024 pixels wide and would never want to go back to anything under 1280 now. My 12.5" Let's Note is 1400 pixels which seems to be about the right DPI.

    10) Expensive accessories and peripherals. Apple charges silly money and seem to be keeping official 3rd party prices high too. You can get knock-off stuff but it tends to be crap, where as on Android I can use generic but good quality peripherals costin

  • by atriusofbricia (686672) on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:55PM (#38474946) Journal

    Do you really think business students represent mainstream users? There are iPad docks, but you're talking about one with a battery and USB ports, turning the tablet into a netbook. People don't want that. They don't want the old, clunky computer designs anymore, and they don't want to deal with a mess of cables. Mice and keyboards are wireless now. Hell, even iOS devices can sync wirelessly.

    There's just this fundamental disconnect between what techies want and what the rest of the world wants. Techies want more ports, more specs, more everything. The rest of the world wants reduced complexity, not more of it.

    Please, put down the crack pipe and step away from the kool-aid. When I'm out in town using my Transformer the first thing people assume is it is a netbook. Then I take it apart and after they pick up their jaws they're asking what is it and where can they get one.

    Whereas not everyone wants it, there sure as hell are a lot of people who do and not just the implied "techno geeks" you're thinking of. Lots of iPad users see it and do wish they had such a dock.

    You're just going to have to get used to the idea that while the iPad 2/3/whatever is nice, the ass kicking that is about to be handed to Apple outside their core fanboi base is going to be absolutely Epic.

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