I realize that talking about the future of tablet computers is not what My Take Radio normally does. We leave this type of stuff to Gizmodo and tech blogs but it seems to me that when it comes to tablets, most everyone has got it wrong, especially financial analysts who come up with some really crazy shit. Let’s get into it.
The truth is there is Apple, and there is everyone else. As we start to move forward, brand loyalty doesn’t seem to be a big factor (unless you’re an Apple fanboy). In the past, if you liked Dell computers you would buy another Dell when yours had extinguished its lifecycle. Makes sense, but in the tablet market, you don’t see a lot of people saying “I love my Dell and I’m going to buy a Dell tablet.” It’s just not happening.
The other common thought is that the OS is what matters and that if people have an iOS device they will gravitate to the iOS tablet and if they have an Android phone they will gravitate to an android tablet. This makes sense to me and has the potential to be the driving force between choosing an Apple or Google tablet.
While brand loyalty and OS lust are important, to most people price will be the biggest factor. So far, no one has been able to compete with Apple on the $500 entry-level price (the one that moves the most units). Motorola just released their Xoom tablet, which looks beautiful, but they don’t even have an entry model. The Xoom is priced at $800, which is still $70 higher than the iPad on a comparable model. Are most people really going to pay extra to get a tablet that isn’t the It device? You could argue that the Xoom has better specs with the dual cameras and faster processor, but with the release of the iPad 2 on March 2, that will all disappear. At the high end, that business will always go to Apple because that is the sexy choice. That is what the cool kids are carrying and maybe they’ll think I’m cool if I have one too.
The introduction of a killer new device would shake up the tablet market, but do you really see this happening? I don’t. All of the tablet manufacturers are using the same technology, in most cases making parts for their competition. Will a new OS come out that blows away what is currently on the market? I doubt it. Windows on a tablet seems like a dead issue. I’m sure at some point they will put Windows 7 mobile on a tablet but it will end up a corpse in the plot a few steps away from anything Dell does. What about HP and Web OS? If it couldn’t breakout on a phone, it certainly won’t on a tablet.
One of the biggest questions I have is about Android. Can the Android platform become something more than a fallback option when a person can’t afford an iOS device, or dislikes Apple as a company? Will their willingness to allow manufacturers to put software overlays over Android on tablets kill their chances of moving units? Please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section below.