Memo to iPad mimics: No one wants a $799 knockoff
You can't beat Apple at being Apple
Open...and Shut There's a growing list of would-be iPad killers born each month, but none yet to grok the central message that made Android beat the iPhone: cheapness.
Motorola and others may have all sorts of reasons for why their tablets are superior to Apple's iPad, but until the price tag is significantly lower, their devices are going to sit on the shelves as museum pieces. Motorola's mobility head, Sanja Jha, articulates a bevy of reasons for why the Xoom tablet is worth its $799 price, the primary one being "our ability to deliver 50Mb/s [will] justify the $799 price point."
But he's wrong. For one thing, though the Xoom comes with Verizon's lightning-fast 4G network access, "Verizon's new 4G LTE network is so fast that you can use up your entire 5GB, $50 monthly allotment in 32 minutes," as PC Mag's Sascha Segan found. So forget the cost of the device for a minute: once a consumer actually starts tapping into the power of the Xoom and its network, the consumer is going to be paying through the nose in data overage charges. Ouch.
But there's a bigger reason few consumers are going to be willing to pay the same price for a Xoom (or any other tablet) as they would for an iPad: it's not an iPad. The default brand that consumers associate with tablets is Apple. That's where the cachet is. So long as its a Motorola Xoom, a RIM PlayBook, etc., it's got to be cheaper or it's not going to sell. (The only possible exception to this is Android-based devices, because Android has a great brand all its own, but even Android is ultimately successful because it's cheaper. More on that below). There really isn't any good way around this, either.
Research in Motion's co-CEO Jim Balsillie spent his Mobile World Congress panel address talking up how great RIM's new PlayBook is for the wireless carriers. That may be true, but consumers are the ones who ultimately buy tablets. It's telling that even with its success selling Android-based smartphones for years, Verizon ultimately cut a deal with Apple to distribute the iPhone. What consumers want, the wireless companies will give. Of course, there's always the less price sensitive route of the enterprise market.
Mike Elgan argues that HP's TouchPad is doomed if it competes head-to-head with Android tablets and the iPad, because there are few apps written for WebOS, its Linux-based operating system. This is almost certainly true, and Elgan follows it up with the suggestion that HP could do an end-run around this app void (and overcome its likely price parity with the iPad) by focusing on the business user, not the consumer.
There's just one problem with this argument: the business market is the consumer market, at least for now. Consumers are bringing their iOS and Android devices to work with them, and enterprise IT is having to live with it. HP isn't going to be able to change this trend. So a price war is in the cards, but guess who can afford to win that war? Apple. With the most volume, and due to its direct-to-consumer retail model, as Jason Hiner speculates, Apple can maintain a healthy margin while setting the price of its iPad lower than other tablet rivals.
Whether it will is a different story, of course. The average selling price (ASP) of Apple's iPhone has actually increased since Android hit the market. In part this is because Apple and Google really compete in two different markets or, at least, compete very differently in the same market.
Apple is all about margin, which means maintaining a healthy price premium for its products. Google Android is all about market share, which means keeping prices low and volume high.
Can Motorola, RIM, HP, or others compete with this? Not based on what they've shown so far. In the long term, I suspect we'll see Android dominate the tablet market even as it now does the smartphone market. People are discovering that tablets really don't do many things particularly well, and hence can't justify a hefty price tag. For this majority crowd, prices will continue to fall, and Android is likely to win.
So long as RIM et al keep their prices high in the hopes of competing with Apple's iPad at the high end of the market, this is virtually guaranteed. No one beats Apple at being Apple. The best bet for the iPad also-rans, then, is to run a different race, aiming for mass market appeal….with much lower price tags.
Matt Asay is senior vice president of business development at Strobe, a startup that offers an open source framework for building mobile apps. He was formerly chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfreso's general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open-source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open...and Shut, appears twice a week on The Register.
I think that might be the problem
The none iPad tablets are only being sold to the very limited number of people who buy a device with the intention of upsetting people who own an iPad whilst the rest of humanity go about their business procreating and generally living life with or without iPads. The problem is they have created a product for a very small and embittered demographic whilst iPads have universal appeal.
Sorry, I have not got nor do intend to get an iPad or any other tablet but buying a device in order to do the "job of winding the fanbois up" is asking to be called sad on a whole new level and boasting about it just gives Register readers a bad name.
Don't believe the hype
"Consumers are bringing their iOS and Android devices to work with them, and enterprise IT is having to live with it." and if they plug the devices in to a network at the firms where I work (take your pick from a big consultancy firm or my clients, currently a Oil and Gas Multinational or National Government) they get warned not to do it and if they do it again they get fired.
Enterprise IT does not have to live with this because there is no business case to support it and masses of downside (i.e. risk), this is a story that RIM and Apple want you to believe so that they can push more consumer products at you. The fact is this is not the case at most companies. Some middle tiers may be taken in by and some stupid senior management may wilfully misunderstand the risks so they can expense the latest shiny thing but every company I have ever worked at has killed this idea stone dead.
Ok, hang on.
Before you decide on a Windows tablet, you should try one. Seriously. It's not really a "tablet" experience, it's a "Windows on a touch screen" experience, mostly using the Windows Accessibility tools. If MS put something like Microsoft Surface on a tablet, I'd be first in line, but that's not what Windows on a tablet is, or even close to it.
"non-Apple iPad" is a bit disingenuous. The product is a tablet computer, of which the most popular is currently the ipad. Android, with a comparable interface to iOS, could make a real dent in this market if the manufacturers could get their acts together. The Samsung Galaxy tab is a nice product but too damned expensive. The Dell tablet is a nice product but way overpriced.
It's not a matter of being cheaper than the ipad because of some perception that Android tablets are ipad knock-offs, it's a matter of being cheap enough that someone wanting a tablet would be willing to pay for it.
As in the article, tablets have limited usefulness, and can easily be priced right out of the market. Currently Android tablets are sharply divided into two categories -- sub-$200 junk and wayyyyy too expensive. I suspect the first vendor to find a happy medium will do very well.
its not a pc or a laptop
working in a very apple encentric job i can confirm that most people buying the ipad are buying it thinking it is mucj more than it actually is.
I can honestly say upto 50% of the people I speak with are disappointed in the ability of the device.
Flash, a mobile browser, and the way that setting up mail on the wifi 3g versions are just messed up, works on wifi fails on 3g, works on 3g fails on wifi.
Overall most people will not actually complain and look the fool when they realise it isnt a laptop.
These devices are way over priced and need to be at least halved. They are just glorified netbooks locked into the apple garden.
Pads will take off when :-
1 - they are as powerful as a current laptop (then you can justify the price at around 500-600 euros)
2 - they are recognised for what they are, glorified netbooks, that should be priced around 200-300 euros.
How many people are outwardly going to say they spent 800 euros on a ipad to find out it doesnt do what they thought it would........ Hense the lack of bad comments methinks.
I'm in agreement, from a consumer point of view, not an expert one. I like the idea of an iPad or similar for sofa based casual web browsing, but not much more. It's a luxury in my view.
But the price of the iPad makes such a luxury unjustifiable, so I was happy to wait for the clones to come along - and that they have, but disappointingly they've all followed Apples pricing (all the real competition, at any rate). Until they come down to a more sensible price I'll continue to wait.
I know Apple will keep a high price point, but I'm fairly sure the others will drop because I can't imagine they'll sell the quantity they're looking for in the immediate future