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Businesses Handhelds Apple

Why the Tablet Market is Really the iPad Market 657

Hugh Pickens writes writes "James Kendrick writes that after Apple introduced the iPad, companies shifted gears to go after this undiscovered new tablet market but in spite of the number of players in tablets, no company has discovered the magic bullet to knock the iPad off the top of the tablet heap. 'What's happening to the 7-inch tablet market is what happened to the PC market several times. Big name desktop PC OEMs, realizing that consumers didn't care about megahertz and megabytes — yes, that long ago — turned to a price war in order to keep sales buoyant,' writes Adrian Kingsley-Hughes. 'Price becomes the differentiating factor, and this in turns competition into a race to the bottom.' Historically, when a race to the bottom is dictated by the market, it's more a sign of a lack of a market in general. If enough buyers aren't willing to pay enough for a product to make producers a profit, the market is just not sufficient. Price is a metric that most people know and understand because it's nowhere as ethereal or complicated as CPU power or screen resolution. Given a $199 tablet next to another for $299, the $100 difference in the price tag will catch the eye before anything else. But if price is such an important metric, why is the iPad — with its premium price tag — so popular? Simple, it was the first tablet to go mass market, and cumulative sales of around 85 million gives the iPad credibility in the eye on potential buyers. 'So the problem with the Kindle Fire — and the Nexus 7 — is the same problem that's plagued the PC industry. Deep and extreme price cuts give the makers no wriggle room to innovate,' writes Kingsley-Hughes. 'By driving prices down to this level so rapidly, both Amazon and Google have irrevocably harmed the tablet market by creating unrealistic price expectations.'"
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Why the Tablet Market is Really the iPad Market

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  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:00PM (#40862449) Journal
    Onenote? What about Onenote? Get me firefox, mplayer, onenote, and an ereader on a tablet with bluetooth, wifi, decent battery, and stylus capabilities, and I'll pay real money for it. If it is sunlight readable, I'd pay double.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:04PM (#40862493)

    The Nexus 7 looks cool, but what I really wanted was the canceled Microsoft Courier []. A dual screen paperback book form-factor with hand-writing recognition. Something I could easily hold in one hand and take notes with, or browse the web with, or compose emails with. If Microsoft had made the Courier, it would own the enterprise tablet market, and possibly the college kid market.

  • by crankyspice ( 63953 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:12PM (#40862573)

    As for innovation Android itself is innovative, and even on very low end tablets all the features work. Much of the software that makes tablets useful doesn't even run on the tablet anyway, it runs on a server somewhere over the net.

    In what ways is Android innovative? I've owned several Android devices, from rooted e-readers (PRS-T1 (2.2), Nook Simple Touch (2.1), Nook Color (Cyanogen 7.1 (2.3)) to full-on tablets (waiting for my Nexus 7; the most recent I've used was a Samsung Tab 7 running Gingerbread), in addition to my iOS devices (1st and 3rd generation iPad; 2x Apple TV (2nd gen); iPhone 4S; iPod Touch (3rd gen)). Android has always felt like a lacks-polish rushed-to-market cheap copy of the iOS experience... I still like it, for some things (in much the same way I love Linux for some things), but if I'm grabbing just one device to take with me, it's always going to be the iPad.

  • Innovation again ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by obarthelemy ( 160321 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:19PM (#40862613)

    I'm tired of the "innovation" motto. Very little innovation is needed, and whatever is actually need barely qualifies as innovation: better screens and batteries, standard ports.. and, mainly, developpers, developpers, developpers.

    Non-iPad tablets are failing because they are priced at the premium level of the iPad but are not really premium, at least not in customers' perception. As in any segment, competitors need to differentiate. Price is one criteria, as are openness, interoperability, features, quality, performance, brand..

    Plus I'm not sure non-iPads are failing. Not all of them. They're not the free money some OEMs fantasized about, but I'm sure they're making some money for a few select ones.

  • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:24PM (#40862647)

    How can Android look like a cheap copy of the iOS experience when Android is infinitely more customizable and feature-filled than iProducts?

    Let's not beat around the bush here. iOS offers a very watered-down featureset so non-tech saavy people don't have trouble with it. That's fine for people like you, but I wouldn't ever call Android a copy of iOS in any way when Android simply does more than iOS does.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 02, 2012 @07:41PM (#40862781)

    I highly doubt Google's so interested in their profit margin on the devices themselves. They give away Android for free, more or less. They're more interested in getting money off of the content and ads, where any lack of profit is going to be made back up (especially their major baby of the ads that is the heart of their money).

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:04PM (#40862995)

    Others have estimated that the iPad costs around $375 to make, and sells for $729. That's a wee bit more than 20%.

    So either Apple is committing massive fraud by not reporting more than half their profits, the manufacturing cost estimates are bull, or there are a few things you have to do to design, build and market a tablet other than build it.

    If the extra costs are around 30% per device then Google IS going to have to subsidize the Nexus 7. If the extra costs are actually fixed in dollars, in whole or in part, then Google is going to have to subsidize the Nexus 7 even more.

    It seems very likely that Google is subsidizing the Nexus 7 since it's similar to the Fire, at the same price point, and the Fire is almost certainly subsidized.

  • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:05PM (#40863005) Journal

    I can type faster than I write on a keyboard, even a good cell-phone keyboard. However, I can't type faster than I write on a touch-screen keyboard.

    I don't know that handwriting recognition is the answer as it wasn't very good in the PDA days. I tried out a lightscribe pen and was very impressed with how well it handled printed text, so it may very well be an option.

    Handwriting or not, a good stylus is essential to the tablet "experience". Jobs was unimaginably wrong on that one. Here's hoping that future tablets take a cue from the Galaxy Note. I'd bet that good stylus product from Microsoft or RIM could easily take-out a second-rate tablet like iPad.

  • by crankyspice ( 63953 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:42PM (#40863329)

    How can Android look like a cheap copy of the iOS experience when Android is infinitely more customizable and feature-filled than iProducts?

    Oh, I don't know... Little things like the friggin' Android Market not working on 2.x era devices with large displays (1024 vertical) without rotating the device to landscape and back again, because until the screen filled up with options (which would never happen in portrait mode), you couldn't flip to the next 'page' of results... Little fit-and-finish things like that let you know Google didn't pump nearly as much time and effort into QA as Apple did.

    The iOS experience is unflaggingly smooth and responsive, and the apps, as a general rule, look better (higher level of "fit and finish"). For instance, compare GoodReader with ezPDF or anything else in the Android ecosystem...

    Let's not beat around the bush here. iOS offers a very watered-down featureset so non-tech saavy people don't have trouble with it. That's fine for people like you, but I wouldn't ever call Android a copy of iOS in any way when Android simply does more than iOS does.

    Filesystems. I hate the way iOS blocks applications from accessing each other's files (it's up to each app developer to 'announce' (via the API) what files it can accept, and equally up to the other apps to support the 'Open in...' functionality), but, I get it. Android, I hate the way files are scattered everywhere, with no rhyme or reason (I know there are (now?) guidelines, but they're not enforced, and often when apps *cough*dropbox*cough* try to be(come) 'good citizens,' it breaks functionality others relied on). I have some apps that refuse to see the non-standard SD card mount point on the rooted PRS-T1 (/extsd instead of /sdcard, which Sony inexplicably uses to refer to a portion of the built-in flash), or to see any files not on an SD card even if the device has gigabytes of built-in storage...

    Six of one, half-dozen of the other. iOS is like a gated community, Android is more like Bartertown. Both can be a PITA to deal with, for different reasons. But since I'm using a tablet to actually Get Things Done, I'd rather have the smooth, predictable, curated experience of an iOS device than the essentially lawless "hope this is gonna work!" chaos of the current Android ecosystem.

    But just because the Android stack is more 'open' doesn't mean it's more 'innovative,' so my original question stands. In what way(s) can Android be described as 'innovative'?

  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:44PM (#40863347)

    I don't really think the issue with the Android tablets is what they do. It's that (to the average user) they just don't seem as nice. They displays aren't as sharp, for one thing. I don't think screen resolution is "etherial" as the summary says. I think people look at an ipad on display in a store next to another tablet, and the ipad looks nicer.

    Becuase ipad has set the standard and the others seem just a touch less "nice", you end up with this idea consumers get in their heads that iPad is the standard, and the others are knock-offs or generics. It's not ipads versus the other tablets, it's ipads versus tablets.

  • by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:47PM (#40863369)
    Have you considered the possibility that this guy's app is poorly coded? You only have to go down the first few reviews before you find ones complaining about the latency. The app right now is $2.53 so I downloaded it and tested it out. Sure enough there is a pronounced delay between touching the screen and hearing the sound. 1/5 of a second sounds about right on my Motorola Xoom. I got a refund within the 15 minutes and decided for reference to try out a random highly rated piano keyboard app. The latency on the piano app was significanly less than on WaveSynth. I don't know what your guys problem is but blaming his failings on Android when other developers seem to be able to handle the job is a bit weak.
  • by fwarren ( 579763 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @08:56PM (#40863439) Homepage

    Us Linux folks have been waiting 10 years for this. The day that Microsoft started eating the OEM's lunch. At some point they will have to compete against Microsoft. Since Microsoft gets Windows for "free" the only way to match the price point on the hardware will be to load an OS that costs them less than Windows.

    With the Windows 8 App store it looks like Valve has figured out they had better have an exit strategy for leaving the Windows PC Market. Hopefully the OEMs like Dell, HP and Lenovo will figure this out soon as well.

  • by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:03PM (#40863495)
    Exactly. I went to CompUSA and spied a 7 inch Android tablet running 4.0. Of a cheap tablet running ICS got my attention but I still assumed it would be trash. Boy was I surprised when I swiped the screen and it was perfectly smooth and obviously capacitive. I played around with it for a few and was floored by how much you could get for...99 dollars. I even took a picture and emailed it to my sister in law for her kids.
  • by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <> on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:58PM (#40863865) Journal

    Yep, we've been loading Novo 7 Tornados [] with manuals, training PDFs, OHS links, etc and handing them out to trainees and customers.

    At $75 each, they're cheaper than printed manuals and far more likely to be carried and used. The have 1GHz processors, 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, and Android 4.03...

  • by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:06PM (#40863899)

    As an actual software developer with over a decade of actual "work" experience, I can tell you that the best specs in the world don't mean shit if the platform you are running on is not optimized to run on the hardware and if the API for third party developer does not give you access to all of that power.

    Optimization is extremely important on mobile platforms where battery life is a limited quantity and the end user expect to run unplugged for an extended period of time.

    The reason why iOS on the tablet is so popular is that Apple developed a unique set of controls for the iPad form factor from the first release of the iPad OS and they also provided an easy way to have "universal" apps that target both phones and tablets.

    The other major reasons are the power of the API and Apple's promotion of paid apps. At first, Google did not give a rat's arse about whether developers could make money on Android because Google is an advertising company at heart. They view the users as the "product" that they sell to advertisers. They really don't care about you at all unless if they see you start leaving their platform. Privacy is seen as a nuisance at Google which gets in the way of making money for them.

    In a nutshell, users of Android devices and developers are seen as a means to an end rather than customers and partners.

  • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @10:12PM (#40863949) Journal

    I've been saying the same thing for a while now. Apples UI hasn't aged gracefully. Any claims they could have made about simplicity and ease-of-use in the past are long gone. Just take a look at their ridiculous suite of gestures, and the absurd number of functions crammed in to the home button. Compare that to the gesture suite on a tablet like the PlayBook and it's immediately obvious how poor the iOS UI really is.

    Android, WebOS, BBOS, ... just about everyone, really ... caught up to iOS a long time ago. Hell, even RIM left them so far behind on the tablet front I don't see how Apple could possibly catch-up.

    They're running on brand alone at this point. They're exactly where RIM was back in 2007, the clear leader; leaving all others to fight for a distant second place.

    They're acting like the memes about RIM suggest as well, releasing the same product over and over with a few minor updates. (Well, to be fair, RIM did try a number of different form factors with various degrees of success between 2006-2010 and Apple is doing much less than that.)

    Unless Apple steps up their game, they'll suffer the same fate -- but in a saturated, not a growing, market in 2015.

  • Exactly right. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @11:19PM (#40864377) Homepage

    People say that you can't get "real work" done on an iPad but I'm an academic and use it as a primary tool for my research and writing. Here's what I use most:

    Sente for iPad [] (academic reference, citation, and PDF database and annotating manager, syncs to the cloud and desktop database)
    DevonThink to Go [] (the anything database, syncs to desktop database)
    Textastic [] (Syntax-aware cloud-capable text editor similar in many ways to SublimeText)
    Notability [] (Notepad/note archiving application)

    There are a bunch of other apps that also get put through their paces from time to time—Pages, Numbers, Things, etc.

    Thanks to Talkatone, my iPad is also my primary phone and text messenger.

    I tried a Samsung Android tablet for a couple of weeks as I was getting ready to upgrade from a 16GB original iPad to a 64GB iPad 2. I hit up my friends and colleagues for input on replacement apps and academic productivity apps in general.

    I couldn't get a single one of the apps above satisfactorily replaced in the Android ecosystem. So I returned the Samsung and got the iPad 2. It's not that Android itself sucks (though it is less smooth and polished) but that the apps really suck when it comes to getting real work done.

    I routinely put in many-hours-long sessions of real daytime work on the iPad, basically whenever I don't need to do anything with SPSS or large datasets or final write-ups, because the iPad interface is so much more transparent and the iPad is so much more mobile than my laptop. But what I've seen so far doesn't suggest to me that Android could be used for the same serious work in the way that I use the iPad, and it's not about the intrinsic capability of the device (the hardware is nearly as good) but more about the general half-assedness of the Android ecosystem in general.

    I want to work on my work, not work on getting my tablet to do what I want.

  • by justforgetme ( 1814588 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @01:07AM (#40864805) Homepage

    Ok, I really don't like advocation for apple inc but:

    Is the nexus7 a shell of glass and aluminium? No. That is one of the problems I have had with
    Android tablets. They are too plasticky, usually after a few weeks use they look far worse than
    they begun with and from day one you get a hint of a device made to accounts, not to specs.

    The apple device is perceived as a better device because in every perceptional level it is a
    better device; not because it was there first.

  • Re:Technical note (Score:5, Interesting)

    by justforgetme ( 1814588 ) on Friday August 03, 2012 @05:24AM (#40865855) Homepage

    Yep, synthetic composites can produce better structural properties than their pure metal counterparts. Still that doesn't mean that companies are actually using the better components. Also of note here is that better tensile/compressive strength doesn't help you if you actually want a deforming device so all the aforementioned composites are invalid as far as the deformability claims go since they would deform worse than Aluminium.

    Also of note is that the point in doing material research for some projects is to create a better product while for most projects it just is to make components cheaper.

    I had done some research on the quality of the plastics going into laptop cases in early 2004 and found that among all the made to price devices only the Sony Vaio line had some quality concerns in their compound design reciepes and if you look at laptops from that era the only thing you will see is a faded mess. Seriously the only plastic device I have seen fade nicely is the Nokia N9 and on that one the test is still going.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.