The New York Times Calls for More ‘Fight’ from iPad Rivals

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Today there’s another call for iPad rivals to step up their game.

Sam Grobart has a good article up at The New York Times site, calling for more ‘fight’ from tablets makers in order to provide stiffer (or any real) competition for the iPad.

He makes a comparison with the car industry and the options in the family sedan market to show how competition breeds excellence – and how we’re not seeing anything like that in the tablet market as yet:

Compare that with the state of the tablet market today. Hewlett-Packard is in retreat. Research in Motion is in a holding pattern. Motorola has been sold and its tablet is now an afterthought. Samsung fights the good fight, but it trails Apple’s market share by 50 percentage points.

Apple is not just ahead of the pack, it almost is the pack. Now, some would say that this is also a simple result of economic laws at work: Apple makes a superior product, therefore it gets most of the sales. Great.

But you know what would be really great? Apple and Google/Microsoft/H.P./Anyone locked in an epic battle for tablet supremacy, each side releasing new and better products at a furious pace, each dropping prices substantially at a steady clip.

Although I have to admit it’s been fun seeing the iPad lap the field for the last 20 months, it’s hard to argue with Grobart’s point. A serious rival would undoubtedly force Apple to raise their game and lead to even more innovation and even better future iPad and tablet choices for users.

Competition is a good thing in lots of areas, not just in the consumer electronics market. Here’s hoping Floyd Mayweather decides to provide some for the man pictured at the top of this post sometime soon.

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Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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2 thoughts on “The New York Times Calls for More ‘Fight’ from iPad Rivals”

  1. In my opinion these other companies would be better off thinking different(ly). The only chance of someone getting in the tablet game is if Google and Motorola pull off a merger miracle. Frankly, they’re going to have a hard enough time just holding onto their smartphone market.

    Most of these are the same guys that were betting heavily on the netbook while Apple was working on the slate concept. Why? Because the netbook looked easy. The challenge of creating a complete infrastructure around a new product is beyond the ability of most management teams. HP sees this and is saying enough.

  2. There is a possibility that Amazon and Samsung can push Apple. Amazon has the closest thing to Apple’s ecosystem, and with the right hardware and a low price, they can get a piece of the lower end market. As for Samsung, they make hardware that is the closest to Apple’s right now. Not equal, but close. If Google can help them out with an improved tablet OS, then they could at least become a viable competitor. Right now, Honeycomb is holding all of the Android competition back. It’s just not there yet.

    Other than the Barnes and Noble Nook Color, I haven’t seen another device besides the Galaxy Tab 10.1 that had the combination of price, performance, and build quality to make me look twice. Most of them are either pure crap, or a whole lot of “me too.” Even the HP TouchPad, which I find myself liking now that I have one and have used it for a few days, is great at $99-$150. It probably would have been acceptable at around $300-$350, as well. However, even with a solid OS, it was a horrible value at the same price as a new iPad 2. Of course, their recent fire sale proves that consumers will respond to the right price.

    When people call for companies to get more competitive in the tablet space, I think they often forget an important point. It isn’t as easy as just designing a great device. Apple has used their substantial lead and huge cash reserves to lock up the supply chain. They either manufacture their own, or own the prime consideration for orders for every component in the device. Samsung is the only competitor that can really combat this, since they have all of their own manufacturing, as well. No one else can buy parts in the kinds of volumes that Apple and Samsung can, so they aren’t able to ship large volumes and keep up with demands (if they manage to generate a demand). If they can’t ship big volumes and sell them, they can turn a profit at a low price, and that is the double edged sword that they all face. No one can match the quality of an iPad at anything close to the price Apple charges and make any money, even if consumers are buying the product.

    Competitors are then faced with either breaking even with a tiny market share, or taking huge losses up front to try and get an installed base. Vizio is the only brand that I see trying this approach right now, but they aren’t advertising it very aggressively, and I don’t think they have made much of a dent yet. If they don’t generate sales quickly, their tablet products won’t last long.

    Unless Google supercharges Motorola with cash and preferential treatment, only Amazon and Samsung really have the name power and money to play this kind of game long term. I see a lot of these Android tablet makers falling by the way side over the next couple of years, with RIM’s Playbook (and maybe even RIM, itself) eventually following suit.

    In the end, we will probably have a lot fewer competitors, but hopefully more room for the prime players who are left to innovate and compete with each other. If Microsoft can turn Windows 8 for tablets into something decent, then three major OSs (with Amazon running their own flavor of Android almost being a fourth) and several big players should be able to gain traction and push Apple. However, it could take 2-3 years before all of this happens and others really get competitive. Until then, I’m betting that Apple has the tablet market almost all to themselves.

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