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Apple's Secret Weapon To Win the Tablet Wars 716

Hugh Pickens writes "International Business Times reports that when manufacturers trotted out their Android tablet prototypes during the CES show two months ago, pundits were happy to toll the death knell for the Apple's iPad, but now manufacturers are discovering that simply making a good tablet does not guarantee that it will sell — much to the chagrin of Motorola and its Xoom product. Now it is plain for all to see that Apple's secret weapon is their network of dedicated Apple stores worldwide where dedicated sales people are not only able to better explain its tablet to consumers but Apple also captures more margin than competitors who have to share margin with retail partners. Apparently, we are not going to see a repeat of the Android ambush of the smartphone market where the combined, price, savvy marketing, and modulated supply releases of the iPhone created so much aspirational demand in the market that buyers simply surged at the chance to buy what was perceived to be an equivalent product at lower prices. 'Motorola's Xoom is only the first to face these problems,' writes AA Defensor. 'Soon RIM's Playbook, and HP's TouchPad will hit the shelves and unless they can do something drastic over the short term, it might remain to be an iPad market. But not because they did not build a good product.'"
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Apple's Secret Weapon To Win the Tablet Wars

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  • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:03AM (#35706808)

    If that's true, then the Microsoft guy might have been right. That tablets computers are a fad that will fade into a niche product that isn't worth their time to pursue.

    That would make it the first time in many years that the world "Microsoft might have been right" have appeared in a sentence written by me. I feel a chill. Is the world ending?

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:09AM (#35706876)

    The secret weapon is obvious -

    Its making apple products look 'cool' and special - in part because of their price, and in part because of their 'magical exclusivity'. The dedicated apple stores do help. But not because of the profit margins.

    If apple were to sell a brick, they would sell much more than a normal brick, because of the 'prestige' that buying an apple product brings.

  • Re:too bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:13AM (#35706920)

    The stores are crowded

    That should probably tell you something right there. Apple stores are hip. They're like that really exclusive dance club that everyone seems to want to get into. Once you're inside, it's crowded and hot, the DJ sucks, the drinks are overpriced--yet people will line up around the block just to beg the bouncer to get in.

  • Don't think so (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ceeam ( 39911 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:15AM (#35706940)

    Apple is a software company and the fact that it comes inside a piece of complimentary hardware is not really that important. But look up what Mr. Kay had to say about the companies that are "serious about their software" some decades ago.

    As for "Apple's secret weapon is their network of dedicated Apple stores worldwide" - well, there are ZERO of them here in Russia. iPads and stuff are still VERY popular.

  • Re:Not convinced (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:36AM (#35707152)

    The "wait until the competitors produce something cheaper" argument never worked with iPods. In part because most people wanted the real thing. And in part because the best company at undercutting the price of an iPod was Apple itself with it's next model of iPod.

    Apple had a big advantage of scale for iPods. They could get components cheaper, and even get exclusive supplies of the latest components. They look to have the same advantage in the tablet market.

    The smartphone market was different because the iPhone was an entry in a mature market. Apple was never the company with the scale advantage.

  • by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:06AM (#35707546)
    Disclaimer: I own a Xoom and I love it.

    That tablets computers are a fad that will fade into a niche product that isn't worth their time to pursue.

    I'm more inclined to believe that the iPad is just a really, REALLY good product in its niche, priced competitively and expertly marketed. I have a friend that has an iPad 1 and a Galaxy Tab. The Tab and my Xoom are more "powerful". I have both devices rooted, I have Ubuntu installed on my Xoom, you can use the Tab as a phone, they have cameras, sdcard slots (ignoring the Xoom situation), and a whole lot more.

    As someone that has used all three side by side, I can tell you a few issues that make the iPad more desirable in many people's eyes. The iPad has a butter smooth interface. The GPU acceleration of the 2D elements is executed almost perfectly. Android, not so much. Even the Xoom with dual core Tegra2 overclocked to 1400 MHz isn't as smooth as the older iPad. I understand Google's reasoning for resisting all out offloading to the GPU (compatibility issues with older phones) but, that doesn't matter to people that just want a device that works and looks good doing it.

    The iPad has the iOS ecosystem to fall back on. I personally have had no problem finding what I want in the Android market so maybe it is a perception thing.

    Another issue that I can see people having is Honeycomb is very dark. iOS, in contrast, is very light. It doesn't help that the Xoom screen won't get as bright as an iPad's no matter what you do. My boss who has an iPad and is a little older asked me to brighten the screen on my Xoom while I was showing him something. Well, I couldn't.

    And, last but not least. Android is the underdog in the tablet market. It needs to be priced that way. There is no way in hell that most people are going to buy a 3G Xoom for more than a 3G iPad. Especially when Best Buy sticks the Xoom off in a remote corner of the PC laptop section (though, in their defence, at least the Tabs are up front and center). Maybe now that the Xoom has a wifi variant, that won't be much of a problem.

    All that having been said, I love my Xoom and would never trade it for an iPad. I love the scripting layer for Android [] enabling me to program in Python right on the device. I love running Ubuntu on it for things like rtorrent, vim, various servers for wireless "syncing", etc. I think Google is on to something with Honeycomb being more optimized for tablets (persistent dock, etc.). But if you want to go up against the juggernaut, you have to bring some strong sauce. The Xoom is great but, it needs to be even better. And cheaper.

  • by JTsyo ( 1338447 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @11:02AM (#35708224) Journal
    hmm maybe Apple should release a Andriod tablet with access to the Apple network.
  • by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @11:27AM (#35708520) Journal

    Almost everyone that I know that buys one spends very little time thinking about what they stuff might actually "do" and instead want an iPad because that's the new cool gadget.

    Yes, some significant percentage of early fit this category, its a classic early adopter profile. Some others likely have a very specific task in mind, from "watching videos in [Airplanes|Ranger Stations|etc] to [Important business function that would justify spending 10x more than it costs]. Don't make the mistake of assuming "People you know" = "World of all iPad consumers"

    Which any decent tablet will do, but the others all seem like iPad ripoffs (as I guess they are), so people aren't interested in them.

    Or perhaps they already have an iPod/iTunes library and see value in not switching. Or they looked at the application environments and chose Apple's locked down model of reliability of Andriods model of openness at the cost of instability/risk.

    I just think people are first interested in the product, THEN its usefulness

    That will get you through the early adopter phase, but without some sort of "Killer App" that the tablet does better, it will be a niche product that dies out (again). The vast majority of folks don't have money to bun experimenting with toys, if they don't have a VERY compelling reason to chose tablets over competitors (iPod's, Kindle, Netbooks, desktops, etc). Keep in mind the 5% rule too, if it works for 95% of what you want better but can't do the last 5%, it may get tossed aside as unworkable. This is why so many rural residents drive trucks, a car would be better 95% of the time, but they can only afford 1 vehicle and need the truck that 5% of the time, so they buy a truck.

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