Marketing theory teaches you that as markets mature and products become commoditized, vendors search for increasingly arbitrary, often-silly, ways to differentiate their products.
For instance, I remember being in Japan a decade ago and first seeing the macho macho chewing gum called Black Black.
Black Black is not only caffeinated like Red Bull, but it's also peppermint-y. Aggressively, tongue-stabbingly so. Because the way to hint to the ladies that you have Abs of Steel hiding under that dress shirt is by chewing Black Black and showing you have a Kevlar Stomach.
The Chuck Norris of gums, Black Black likes to give bad breath a roundhouse kick to the face.
(Never mind that Black Black also includes sissy-ish ingredients such as chrysanthemum flower extract and coloring from gardenia flowers.)
Anyway, I thought we were far far away from hitting that level of commoditization in the tablet market. I mean, there are very salient technical, usability and platform differences that separate the various tablets out there. Like screen size. Number of CPU cores. Operating system. Apps. Etc.
But one Indian manufacturer is convinced we've gotten that point, or it is just very very desperate.
Milagrow is the self-proclaimed maker of the first TabTop(TM) PC. Take away the jargon, and you find that it's merely a $500 8-inch Android tablet that comes pre-loaded with about 50 apps.
The New Dehli-based company's first product wasn't particularly well-received. A reviewer for India's IBN magazine called the first TabTop "ugly, overpriced" and says that it has "numerous flaws...misses grace and looks cheap." He recommended that buyers get an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab for the same price instead.
Undaunted, Milagrow today began touting the "world's only TabTop PC for women professionals." It is the same tablet, except that this tablet is a little bit lighter and is half the price (about $250).
Because, you know, men love it when their portable gadgets are heavier and cost twice as much.
Actually, the arguably most feminine thing about the Milagrow tablets is that they come in pink and baby blue.
Making gadgets in a rainbow of Lifesaver candy colors was a winning strategy for Apple with its original iMac G3s. The thing was as cute as the iMac G3s were, Apple never dared say that these iMacs were aimed at women. That would've seemed patronizing and also shut out half of the potential market.
Also, Milagrow sorta undercut the whole female tablet angle by making two of the colors grey and black. I don't know about you, but I know a few tech gadgets bought by men that come in those colors.
It's impossible to judge the new TabTop PC's usability (it runs Android 2.3 Honeycomb). But if, as appears, it only has a single-core 1.2 GHz ARM processor, then a $250 doesn't seem like super-great value, when you have RIM selling 64 GB dual-core PlayBooks for $300.
It sounds like these won't be coming state-side, but oh, if only these would only show up at my local Fry's Electronics store, I could have more fun making fun of them.
Or visit the Web site and see where you rank on the Mobility Matrix and/or ask for a print copy.