It's not often that I agree with Robert Scoble. In fact, every time I do find myself agreeing with him I get all scared and worry that the apocalypse is going to descend upon us all. Well, if you fear such things it might be time to get your affairs in order because I think that he's right that Android is going to see huge gains in tablet marketshare this year.
Here Scoble hits the nail on the head:
But, there are a whole range of uses that don't need an iPad, but need a good tablet.
For instance, let's say you are outfitting a school with tablets and all you need is a good web browser at a very low cost? Vizio wins here. Apple doesn't.
Or, say you are a restaurant and need to put a tablet at every table with a menu on it? Vizio wins here. Apple doesn't.
Or, like we just saw at Oakley's headquarters, let's say you are building a custom retail experience where you can order custom sunglasses. Are you going to spend $500 on an iPad when a $350 one from Vizio will do? No way. Vizio wins. Apple doesn't.
See, Apple came into the tablet market with the iPad and set some of the standards by which consumers would measure tablets. Form-factor, screen size, weight, storage and so on. But one of these metrics wasn't price, but I'm surprised how many companies failed to realize this.
Just because Apple started the iPad pricing at $500 doesn't mean that every other tablet maker out there can do the same thing. No way. You need one heck of a shiny halo (the sort of shiny halo that Macs and the iPod and the iPhone create) to be able to pull that off. While Apple can pull off a starting price of $500, most tech OEMs can't. They don't have the marketing, brand presence, retail presence and sheer customer base to pull it off. Sure, they can try, but as we've seen so far, they can also fail. RIM might have been able to sell 500,000 PlayBooks, and Motorola might have been able to ship 250,000 Xooms, but these companies soon realize that the customer well runs dry. Unless you're Apple, you need to be competing on price against Apple. 'Buy OUR $500 tablet as opposed to Apple's iPad' won't work.
So that leaves tablet makers with one card to play - Price. And it's an attractive card. Scoble's right when he says that some people will only buy an iPad, but there are plenty of people out there willing to not buy an iPad as long as the price is right. If people are going to have to spend $500 on a tablet, the evidence seems to support the fact that they'd rather buy an iPad, but I think that if you get a decent tablet out there and price it in the $350 region, that going to appeal to those who feel neutral towards Apple and its products. In fact, it might be the only way to get the tablet buying masses to pay attention to a non-Apple tablet.
Now, how much money can be made from a $350 Android (especially one of decent quality) is another question, but if an OEM can sell plenty of them, it should be OK.
Wait, I hear a sound ... is that the apocalypse?