Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tablet Wars: Can Any One Take On The iPad?

While Mary-Jo Foley, over at ZDNet, is reporting that Microsoft could be introducing a beta of Windows 8 for tablets at this coming September's PDC, there are now rumors that Apple's much anticipated iPad 2 could be delayed until this coming June.

This is in stark contrast to earlier reports that stated that the iPad 2 had already begun production. If any delay is true, of course, it would be a real bummer for all of us who are eagerly awaiting its immediate arrival. It was only Monday that speculation was prompted that the iPad 2 would be immediately forth coming after T-Mobile and Orange, in the U.K., lowered the price of their iPad's 16GB models in anticipation of the newer model.

Of course, the sooner the iPad 2 is released, as far as I'm concerned, the better. Yes, despite the fact that apparently, for various reasons, no other tablet, it seems, will be able to match the iPad's lower price points, you can bet your last peanut butter and sardine sandwich that the competition will be doing their earnest to steal as much of the iPad's thunder as they can.

In fact, two of the tablets that have at least some real chance of taking on the iPad are HP's new Touch Pad and Motorola's Xoom, with the former possibly being release this April, and the later reported to be going on sale this month.

Both the Xoom and the Touch Pad, along with others such as RIM's Play Book, are all compelling tablets, but the question is: are they compelling enough to take on the iPad?

Well, that depends on who you ask I guess. Obviously, the various people behind all of the other tablets are going to tell you that not only can, but they invariably will. Then again, talk is cheap. One thing is certain, that if they do, it won't be easy and it probably won't come quick.

The big problems facing any potential killers is the simple fact that the iPad has a lot of 'killer' features itself, and ones that should make it harder to kill off than what some would have you believe. These include trying to compete with Apple's massive PR machine that is backed by Apple's equally impressive mountain of cold, hard cash -- over $60 B!

This means that Apple can pre-purchase most of the critical components needed before hand in order to build a successful tablet, thus leaving the competition scrambling for the fewer parts left over, while, at the same time, paying higher prices for them! These include the critical components for memory, and probably the most important of them all, high quality touch screens.

Another huge problem for iPad wannabes is software, or the apps. Here the iPad not only shines, but its library of tablet specific apps, some 60 t0 80 thousand of them, and growing, is going to be hard, very hard if not impossible to overcome. After all, what is any computing device without apps to run on it? Not much more than a fancy curio, if you ask me.

On top of the above hurdles for other tablet providers, another disadvantage for them is the simple fact that the iPad has the first place advantage. Yes, there have been other tablets out there before it, but their form factor was a far cry from the iPad's, the one tablet that every other tablet is now modeling itself on. Simply, being the first of its breed, the iPad now has the mind share that no amount of marketing, or amount of money, can overcome. Its already being used by over 80% of the Fortune 500, and trying to catch up with the iPad is clearly a daunting task, though not necessarily impossible.

In conclusion, with Apple's marketing, massive cash reserves, brand name recognition, mind share, its huge and rapidly growing app library and its strangle-hold on components and pricing, I'm sure glad I'm not one of the iPad's wannabees, because no matter how fine-and-dandy their tablets might be, the best they that can probably do now is to try and take the lion share of the iPad's crumbs, while the iPad takes the icing on the cake.

And that's my 2 cents 4 this Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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