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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?

    • One second, i'll check to see if cats and dogs are living together...

      Oh shit. [imgur.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TaoPhoenix ( 980487 )

      I don't believe that statement from the MS exec - they can't stand not to put a placeholder entry into every item category. I think that statement was just more marketing, but almost like Reverse-Vaporware.

      This post from Paul Thurrott says that MS is toying around with blending Windows 8 & Windows Phone code chunks. Somewhere in there someone will smash together a Windows-Something tablet.

      http://www.winsupersite.com/article/windows-7/windows-8-secrets [winsupersite.com]

      • I wouldn't trust Microsoft to understand the portable market anyway. I haven't tried the latest Windows 7 phones, but years ago I did get to try several Windows phones and they had a start button on the bottom left for christ's sake. That was their mentality throughout the 00s with tablets and everything up to the Zune, to try and kludge in a desktop metaphor and GUI where it didn't belong.

        I'm pretty sure they could have owned the smartphone market if they let go the premise that it had to look like and r

    • Which Microsoft guy?

      I though Gates was pushing tablets for over a decade now.

      I think the big fad that is fading the last few years is netbooks, and theyre being done in by iPad and smartphones. My local Walmart used to have 3 on display last year and now it's back down to 1. (I'm not saying they'll disappear entirely though.)

      • by dingen ( 958134 )

        Which Microsoft guy?

        The guy from this story [slashdot.org].

        I still don't understand why it would be problem though if tablets were to fade away in a few years. That doesn't mean they're hot right now and you can earn some cash if you play your cards right. Of course, that would mean you need to act quickly and competently... which might be where the problem lies.

    • 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 [google.com] 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.

      • "There is no way in hell that most people are going to buy a 3G Xoom for more than a 3G iPad."

        The iPad is a fashion statement, if it was cheaper it would sell *less*. Apple products are the Giffen goods of the computer world.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      The Microsoft guy is an IDIOT as Microsoft has been chasing the Tablet PC for decades... They have been "reinventing" the tablet every few years, It's only now when a competitor got it right they get pissy and say "tablets suck!"

      I loved my old Fujitsu stylistic tablet, but battery life on ALL of the prior tablets sucked massively. Sorry but even a 4 hour run time is worthless for a tablet. I need to make it a solid 8 hours between needing to be charged. the iPad is the only one that has been able to del

  • by ThePromenader ( 878501 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:04AM (#35706820) Homepage Journal

    Did they hire Moses as their campaign manager? That guy was a whiz at promoting tablets.

    • Did they hire Moses as their campaign manager? That guy was a whiz at promoting tablets.

      That is true, Moses was a marketing genius: from publicly destroying a couple of prototypes because the crowd were ignoring him, to preserving for posterity a poor substitute of the prototypes, whose actual command set weren't nearly as coherent as the originals. And his publicity stunts were talked about for years: magic shows, violence, years-long group exercise program!

    • Those tablets required a lot of power to be effective. Not designed for continuous everyday use.
      • Those tablets required a lot of power to be effective. Not designed for continuous everyday use.

        Are you kidding? It's been showing the same message for thousands of years without having to recharge! Granted it took a lot of energy to change the display in the first place. I hear they're a bitch to carry around, though.

    • by rmdyer ( 267137 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:23AM (#35707794)

      Did they hire Moses as their campaign manager? That guy was a whiz at promoting tablets.

      Unfortunately Moses tablets gave us strict rules about what we can't do.
      Wait. Now I understand.

  • As far as knowledge base I'm not convinced either. I went in with a simple question of whether garageband would run in the background as I run a guitar tab app and still function and they didn't know the answer. Though I will admit that they at least understood the question, they just didn't know or have a way to verify and answer. I was a little bit disappointed seeing as garageband is an apple app.
  • Not exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:07AM (#35706852)

    Apple's secret weapon is their network of dedicated Apple stores worldwide

    No, their secret weapon is their network of dedicated Apple *users* worldwide. Many (not all, but many) Apple fans have an almost cult-like dedication to Apple products, and are also pretty effective proselytizers for the cause. Motorola, HP, etc. don't have that kind of advantage, no matter how good their product.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Enderandrew ( 866215 )

      I still hear on a regular basis that Macs are better for graphics. My mother is convinced she needs a Mac because she can't design a basic flyer on a PC. Perception trumps reality.

    • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Americano ( 920576 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:29AM (#35707078)

      Maybe they could... you know... build a product that inspires the devotion that Apple's products do? This "it's just garbage that's marketed well to a bunch of cultists" meme doesn't explain the millions of units sold, doesn't explain the repeat customers, and doesn't explain their consistently high customer satisfaction ratings.

      And if it is just garbage, then why don't HP and Motorola hire a better marketing team and beat Apple at their own game? There's nothing that's inherently "Apple" about producing good advertising and marketing campaigns - there are hundreds of memorable ads and millions of useful products that are produced every year - it's not like you can't find an advertising company willing to help you build a campaign.

      After all, if "Garbage + Good Marketing = huge sales," imagine how much more money they can make if they were to hit the magical "Good product + Good marketing = ??? PROFITS" point.

      • Re:Not exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by FatAlb3rt ( 533682 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:53AM (#35707394) Homepage
        I think you're ignoring the OP's main point: the cult-like dedication. Yes, Apple makes a good product. But there's a large chunk of that decision being made for materialistic reasons. Apple has the hip product, it's trendy. Most people aren't out there comparing specs and reading reviews.
        • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday April 04, 2011 @11:02AM (#35708222) Homepage Journal

          I think you're ignoring the OP's main point: the cult-like dedication.

          I'm ignoring it, too, because it's wrong. I'm not an Apple "fanboy" or "cultist", but I have an iPhone because I like it and it works well. My boss (who is no way, shape, or form an Apple "fanboy" or "cultist") has an iPad and uses it regularly because he likes it and it works well. When I was at PyCon, half the attendees had MacBooks. While I imagine that there were some Apple fanboys in the large crowd, the people I talked to were long-time developers who loved the tools available to them on OS X, and used MacBooks - wait for it!, wait for it! - because they like them and they work well.

          I remember the cult-like followers back in the 90s. I worked with a few, and they were incredibly annoying. I think that meme needs to die, though, because it hasn't been valid in a long time. It's easy for people to dismiss Apple users as mindless sheep. It's harder to recognize that most of them are regular, un-fanatical people who just happen to find a product they like using.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

        I never said Apple products were garbage. And it would take more than just building a superior product to trump Apple. Apple spent decades building up a dedicated user base (sometimes fanatically so). That takes a lot of time to build.

        • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Americano ( 920576 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:16AM (#35707676)

          And HP, Motorola, Samsung, RIM, Microsoft, Nokia, HTC... these are fly-by-night upstarts, new to the industry?

          The question is, what's preventing other manufacturers from achieving the same thing, especially if they have a better product? It can take a while to build a brand's perception, but none of the companies competing with Apple are exactly newcomers on the scene. They've had plenty of time to build their own reputations and user bases, but they've failed to do so - in some cases, they've failed to do so in a spectacular fashion.

          There's clearly something missing in their execution that goes beyond the lack of a marketing tagline.

    • Re:Not exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by John Betonschaar ( 178617 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:07AM (#35707572)

      You are fooling yourself if you still believe in that 'Apple cult' crap by now. Of all the people I know who use Apple products, maybe one or two could be described as having a 'cult-like dedication to Apple', and then I would be including myself just so I can come up with more than one example. Most of them just buy stuff because they like the way it looks and works, and because they hear their friends say good things about them. With over 90% 'high or very high' customer satisfaction, Apple doesn't need any 'cult-like dedication', the word-of-mouth marketing from their users already does half the PR for them, and the main driver behind that is customer satisfaction.

      Now, of course you could argue that the customer satisfaction numbers that Apple scores are inflated, and that this 90% of satisfied users all have Stockholm syndrome, or a simply bragging to each other because they like to pimp their gadgets, but that simply doesn't make any sense at all. No company can keep up selling polished turds for over 10 years and still have the whole world think their products are great while they aren't. You might be able to pull that off once, using sufficient hype and a big marketing push that distracts from the downsides of your product, but if it actually sucks and is not worth it's money, you'll be out of business within 1 or 2 generations of your product. Nobody buys a polished turd twice.

      In my perception it's more often Apple's competitors that try to create hype and distraction to sell inferior products to a loyal following of customers who don't want to buy anything made by Apple, out of principle. I'm not implying that includes you yourself, but when people don't seem to be able to get passed the 'Apple cult', 'sheep', 'buy everything with an Apple logo' or 'believe everything their god Steve Jobs tells them', it usually means someone is trying too hard to justify their own, personal preferences, without having to acknowledge that they are 'different' from what most 'normal' people enjoy in their tech purchases.

  • If the solution is to start building retail stores and hiring people to explain the products like Apple does, then go for it! Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Acer, ViewSonic, etc. should build their own stores and sell the products directly. They'd get wider margins, which means they can offer at slightly lower prices. Additionally, people are pulling away from the carrier centric model, because quite frankly, most carriers treat their customers horribly because they know that they can. Customers are not inclined t

    • by MBCook ( 132727 )
      Microsoft tried making their own stores just a few years ago, didn't they? I remember some fanfare when it first happened ("Now we'll cream Apple because we're awesome"), and I haven't heard anything since (implying total failure).
  • 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.

    • by JamesP ( 688957 )

      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'.

      Microsoft tried doing that to the Zune... Did you see what happened?

      And people keep buying iPods, warts and all...

    • in part because of their 'magical exclusivity'.

      It must be very magic indeed. They have 25% of the smartphone market and, what, 75% of the MP3 player market. That's clearly no normal kind of "exclusivity".

      If apple were to sell a brick...

      Part of Apple's success is choosing what markets to go into and when. Apple wouldn't sell a brick. They're not perfect... the set-top-box market was a mistake. But the MP3 player, the smartphone and the tablet markets they entered at just the right time.

    • 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.

      ... except that the Xoom is even more exclusive (have you seen any in the wild? I haven't), as well as being even higher priced. So, no, it's neither high price nor magical exclusivity that help the iPad, since it has neither.

  • by darjen ( 879890 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:10AM (#35706886)

    Apparently, we are not going to see a repeat of the Android ambush of the smartphone market

    It is WAY to early to make this kind of a judgement. There is absolutely no reason why Android couldn't take over tablets as well as smartphones. Judging by the success or failure of a first gen product like the Xoom is definitely not an adequate representation.

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Apparently, we are not going to see a repeat of the Android ambush of the smartphone market

      It is WAY to early to make this kind of a judgement. There is absolutely no reason why Android couldn't take over tablets as well as smartphones. Judging by the success or failure of a first gen product like the Xoom is definitely not an adequate representation.

      Agreed, and the £500 Motorola zoom [google.co.uk] is not going to prove one way or other whether anyone will buy a £600 iPad 2 [google.co.uk] ot £400 iPad [google.co.uk]. Wait until something decent hits the £200 mark

      • 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 rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:10AM (#35706890)

    when people talk about the success of Apple, where they always focus on singular Apple products and techgeeks especially zoom in on specs and the like.

    It means a lot to be able to walk into a store and have people actually help you. The trend is usually towards superstores where there is a million and one products which nobody knows anything about anything. Even in Best Buy, where I usually avoid/ignore the sale's people, when I do take advantage of their nagging "Can I help you", the inevitably don't know anything about the products they're selling, even in their department, and read to you from the box as if you're illiterate. (I asked a salesperson in that department if a specific computer case fit ATX sized boards because it looked a bit small. Total deer in the headlights look. Box didn't say anything.)

    The closest I've come irl people knowing, is at microcenter, although mine the salespeople are so pushy it's uncomfortable. But it can be a powerful thing for a brand. I know Sony has stores and Gateway tried them the last decade, but not sure what became of them.

  • Reality.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:11AM (#35706898) Homepage

    Your product will FAIL if it's priced higher than the "premium" product that is out there.
    Yes the new Motorola tablet is better than an Ipad, but it is not PERCIEVED as being a luxury item like the iPad has become.

    Have an iPad? you must be rich. no really, it has that "feel" that has been perpetuated by apple.

    The only way the Android competition can touch the iPad is to be cheaper and get units out there that are BETTER than the ipad. not cheap knockoffs that are half baked... Like the ones that dont have a legitimate Market app on them.

    IF your tablet does not ship with Market ready to be used, your tablet is a fail. If your tablet does not ship with honeycomb or at least a 2.2 android and can be upgraded to the latest easily.... then your tablet is a FAIL.

  • Ford used to have Ford shepherds, looking after Ford sheep, so they didn't have to share margins with wool manufactures. Vertical integration isn't a silver bullet.

    Besides, Apple engages in resale price maintenance (which is kind of illegal), so they *don't* share margins. Companies who stack Apple hardware do so with only nominal profits (IIRC).

    The reason the iPad sells is that its got a years headstart, and Apple has locked in all the good components, so it's also the best value. Plus it's got the Apple b

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      that's pretty much with everything now including x-box and TV's. the main purchase item is sold at a loss or break even and the profits made on the warranty and accessories. with iCrap almost everyone gets accessories like my $60 ipad case i bought or my wife's iphone 4 case. with TV's and other electronics most people avoid accessories and warranties like the plague.

      my ipad 2 cost me $762 with tax included. that's $700 to Target minus credit card fees which are probably $25. $675 gross revenue plus they ha

  • 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.

  • Usability maters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tei ( 520358 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:16AM (#35706948) Journal

    Wen I use a computer, I want raw power. A PC with Ubuntu will do. With windows... mostly .. I get angry at the lack of decent virtual desktop,but is almost there.
    But wen I want a tablet, I want usability. And Apple has that. I don't need my tablet to have 16 GB of RAM or any other stat. Is not about stat, is about the experience, and Apple has it. I suppose Android can get here, but I am unsure if thats what the Android people ask for... maybe Android is taking notes from Windows, and not from iOS.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:05AM (#35707530) Homepage

      Usability takes a holiday on a tablet the moment I try to do anything the least bit "geeky" like trying to print or use some data that's "alien" or an interesting access method.

      The point of a PC isn't the 8G of RAM or the 6 cores. It's the fact that I can do whatever I want with it.

      This was true in 1983 and is still true today.

    • I'd buy an iPad in a second if it didn't require that turd iTunes.

      Any company that puts out such a gigantic bloated piece of shit like iTunes should *not* be talking about usability. Especially when their competitor (Microsoft's Zune software) is faster, more stable, and easier-to-use.

  • actually the massive profits earlier in this century were due to not having fixed costs. turning into a chain of stores is a different thing, with great fixed costs and the need for constant sales, in other words, needing a hit product all year long. earlier when they didn't run practically any stores they could just take a few months off in engineering instead of releasing a new product to fill the shelves. now they must release a product quarter by quarter to keep in profit in the stores and the stores ar

  • Can someone explain the use cases IPad-like finger-only tablets are intended for to me?

    Laptops I understand: you can use them to code, do your e-mail, ssh into machines to get stuff done etc.
    Phones I get: you can use them to read your e-mail `on the go' and perhaps even send quick replies to important things, read maps, and do skype if you're the adventurous kind who likes voice communication.
    Tablets with pens I also get: you can read and annotate papers/books with them or draw.

    But I don't understand the

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      ..They seem to be selling well, so my guess is that it's games or porn. Does anyone have experiences with these fingery tablets?

      I think you just answered your own question.

    • Re:Use cases? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:36AM (#35707160)

      Laptops I understand: you can use them to code, do your e-mail, ssh into machines to get stuff done etc.

      Well, there is your problem. Of your 3 tasks listed, only 1 of them is something that a normal person is only likely ever to do.

    • Re:Use cases? (Score:4, Informative)

      by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @09:50AM (#35707342)

      But I don't understand the use cases for finger-only tablets. ... . Does anyone have experiences with these fingery tablets?

      90% of my ipad time is clicking delete on almost all emails, scrolling and reading some emails. Its a really easy choice, wait five minutes for the PC to boot up and anti-virus to finish and log in, click thru todays firefox upgrade and windows "upgrade", etc etc, or five seconds on the ipad till I do what I want. Regardless of CPU speed, latency makes PCs incredibly slow compared to an ipad.

      It makes a pretty good web-shopping platform on the couch. Peapod, Amazon, etc. Again, instant latency compared to a PC, and no virus/security issues.

      Very star trek tablet web page viewing experience. Pick up, look at local weather radar, local weather forecast, stocks, bank account, whatever, then put down. No upgrading / virus scanning / latency drama, its just there and ready for me instantly.

      Makes a great ebook reader. Some awesome fast and smooth pdf readers and CBZ/CBR comic book reading apps.

      Generally speaking the experience on a tablet places the user in the drivers seat, whereas the experience on a non-linux desktop/laptop/netbook places the device in the drivers seat with the user as a passenger.

  • What makes a good tablet? It's a combination of hardware, software and 'ecosystem.' Some of the non iPad hardware is interesting, particularly for things like cameras. The value of Android for tablets is yet to be shown, the new tablet focused Android release is immature when compared to iOS. So I'm not convinced that it's yet fair to cite alternatives to iPad as "good" yet. "Promising", but not verified as "good". We'll see what RIM has to offer shortly.

    When you bring in the ecosystem, you have not j

  • but now manufacturers are discovering that simply making a good tablet does not guarantee that it will sell

    I'm confused. Have we actually had a good tablet not made by Apple that has hit the market yet? The latest batch of Honeycomb tablets are looking promising but how many are actually available yet?

  • Which is strange. The best price/performance is from buying Apple.

    That said, my rooted Nook Color ($250) does enough tablet stuff for my needs.

  • simply making a good tablet does not guarantee that it will sell â" much to the chagrin of Motorola and its Xoom product.

    A "good" tablet will fail. Especially when it is more expensive than the iPad. The challenge that the Xoom faces is that it is a good tablet, but not *as* good as the iPad, and it's more expensive to boot. A sucessful competitor will need to be as good as or better than the iPad, and have a competitive price.

  • Apple, in their sneaky and not-to-be-trusted ways, have managed to re-discover that there is value in interfacing directly with customers and keeping them happy. Banks and other companies have been pulling out of direct customer face time feeling that keeping their people trained and professional is just "too expensive" and sometimes puts them in harm's way when some asshat in management or directorship decides to do something that makes customers angry.

    What Apple is doing is not new. It is something that

  • Yeah, whatever. My wife and I are having plenty of fun with a G-Tablet and Flash.

    OK, so I admit, I actually haven't ever touched iOS ever, so you could say my experience is quite limited. Butt, I've played with enough Apple products to feel the discomfit of roaming around their walled garden in a designer straightjacket. It was some work to get a custom firmware (TnT-Lite 4) onto the G-Tablet to fix Viewsonic's misguided attempt at customization. But once Android manufacturers figure it out, they'll hav

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:06AM (#35707550)

    Apple's iPad is compelling to the public (and difficult to sell) because it's not a PC and it's not a phone. It really is something different.

    Android is selling because people know what they're buying: a phone. The basic uses are pretty obvious. You don't need a lot of marketing, etc to understand. It may be that "Android" itself is irrelevant - it's a cheap OS that's being promoted as the secret sauce, but who knows if the public cares about the sauce or the price.

    The iPad, as you can see from the comments here, is a bit harder to pigeonhole. It's not a laptop, even though it's portable. It's not a "computer" as it's known today. It's not a TV.

    However, you can watch TV on it (MLB, Cablevision, Netflix, AirVideo, YouTube, etc). You can check email. You can play games, make music, etc. You can do lots of stuff with it. It's basically the equivalent of a portable Apple ][, in that it's a "Personal Computer." The rest of the industry has no idea what that means. Most technical people have no idea what that means either.

    If I was to coin a phrase, it's a "casual computer." What do I do with my iPad? Play games. Check email. Do a quick browse with Pulse across 75 websites. Take notes and organize my thoughts. FaceTime occasionally. There are things my MBP does better, and that my desktop(s) do better. That's not the point.

    But the key thing is, the casual use cases are what most people use their home computers for. Very few people write papers on their home computers. Very few people write anything in real life, except forum posts, facebook/myspace comments, IM/chats, and emails. Very few people write code, do spreadsheets, or any of the thousands of things that require an i7 or a core 2 duo.

    It's the "Computer for the rest of us", and the rest of us means "people that aren't computer people." Geeks think it's ridiculous, but anyone who's been paying attention to computing is aware that the public thinks PCs are too hard to use, too hard to maintain, and too complicated...and if they don't believe it they act that way. How many of us have answered questions that seem completely ridiculous to us? "No, that's not a cupholder."

    There really isn't any of that complexity with the iPad. The only really complicated iPad thing is whether the switch is the orientation lock or mute. Do people want heavy-duty games? Not really - most people have lives, and don't have time to invest hours in learning how to play a game. Heavy-duty apps? Probably not - they just want to kick out an email etc. They want to see their data wherever they are. And they want to be entertained. The iPad does those very, very well.

  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @10:52AM (#35708114)

    There is no secret weapon. But a great many obvious ones.

    First Mover advantage: You can argue tablet existed before, but until iPad, they didn't for the average consumer. Apple's iPad will be seen as the spark that started a new product niche, they will have mindshare advantage, competitors are left playing catch up and will be largely perceived as iPad knockoffs, that you get because you were too cheap, or unsavvy to get an iPad.

    Mature OS vs Beta OS: You can argue about better notifications in Android or some other pet feature, but the reality is that Honeycomb is beta quality. It is unstable, apps are crashing all over the place. You certainly aren't going to win converts with this.

    Apple consistently builds top quality HW: Again you quibble about some minor spec sheet improvement some competitor has, but Apple is pretty much a safe bet of deliver top quality HW. If you go with the competition, you will have to dissect spec sheets/reviews to make sure you aren't getting a crappy screen or low battery life, etc...

    Ecosystem: 65000 tablet specific applications vs 100...

    Unique Killer Apps: Apple is creating a suite of excellent apps that off a cut above anything available for Android Tablets. Garage Band, iMovie, Pages, Number etc..

    Marketing: Apple is fairly good at marketing and they are clearly outspending all the competition on tablet marketing..

    Mom Factor Think about which one you would get for your Mom? I tried to get my Senior Mom using a PC and it was hopeless, but I think an iPad could work for her and I do think it will be easier with an iPad than an Android tablet.

    Against this, the main thing Android tablets seem to have going for them is: Nerd rage about walled gardens and Nerd spec sheet worship. That doesn't seem very relevant this time out. I honestly wouldn't have a clue how to compete against iPad and I doubt any of the competition does either, they are just trying to build comparable HW and hoping.

    After some earlier waffling, I am planning to get an iPad as my first Apple product ever.

  • by hazydave ( 96747 ) on Monday April 04, 2011 @01:42PM (#35710298)

    Does anyone really claim that the iPad is so much better in the tablet market than the iPhone was in the smartphone market that its unassailable? Nonsense.

    Don't forget the first Android phones... the G1 didn't even really try. And while the Droid was a pretty big boost to the "ecosystem", it didn't defeat the iPhone. The only case I can even recall of a single model of Android outselling the iPhone is recently, with the HTC Thunderbolt at Verizon outselling the iPhone 4... a brand new 4G product outselling last year's model.

    And yet, even in the USA, Apple's stronghold, Android phones outsold the iPhone last year, and already beat RIM (the only other smartphone vendor to outsell Apple last year in the USA) this year. A market with multiple vendors always wins, in the end. That's why the IBM PC won, why DVD defeated DivX, why Blu-ray defeated HD-DVD, why Compact Flash and SD are the successful memory cards, etc. The only place this doesn't happen is in very limited niches markets only served by a few proprietary customers, or vertically integrated markets with unusual dynamics. The video game console market is an example of that; every vendor takes a loss on the hardware for a new console, only one hardware vendor per platform, etc. So sure, if Applet thinks they can make enough cash on the iTunes store to subsidize the market with super-cheap iPads, they win. But they'll never do it.

    Price is an issue, though. Anyone who thinks the iPad is cheap is not paying attention -- the cost to make of any ARM tablet is lower than most netbooks. Apple made nearly as much money on the iPad last year as on the Macintosh. Just the hardware. Why ever change that model.

    Some are starting to get the message. As much as Apple sells, they don't actually MAKE any component in the iPad. Samsung makes practically every component for a tablet themselves, including many found in the actual iPad. Is there any possible reason a Samsung tablet needs to cost as much as an iPad? None... they were simply setting the price based on Apple as the only competition. Another datapoint: Archos. They're on their fourth generation tablets now.... evolved out of the PMP world, never directly targeted at Apple. You can buy a 10" Archos with specs better than the iPad 1 for $300. The price, right now, should be keeping people away: ARM tablets at $500 or more look expensive when netbooks start at $200 and, in theory, offer more.

    Yes, the iTunes store is a big magnet. It was with the iPhone too... but that didn't keep the iPhone on top. All of those Android users are getting the same kind of things from the Android Market, the Amazon Appstore, and maybe others. If there's really a market for tablets, this growing collection of users will be looking for Android tablets. Today's Xoom is really just the G1, in terms of the way Google's looking at the tablet market (despite the fact Android 2.x is just fine with tablets, I have found only one out of 50 I've tried on my "Adam" tablet didn't support full resolution -- vastly different than the iPad vs. iPhone story).

    And that's even assuming something big doesn't happen. But we already know that today's B&N "nook" is getting an official update that will include apps as well as books -- the device is already proving a fine tablet among hackers. And Amazon's certain to release future Kindles with the full Android treatment as well. Neither device may be as open to other appstores as the average smartphone today, we'll see. But the same apps run everywhere.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford