Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

Summary: The alleged iPad killing tablets are coming, but with price tags that aren't going to even come close to denting Apple's lead.


The alleged iPad killing tablets are coming, but with price tags that aren't going to even come close to denting Apple's lead.  When Apple CEO Steve Jobs launched the iPad it wasn't clear how aggressively these newfangled devices were priced. Now we know because Android tablets and other rival tablets can't hang on pricing.

In recent days, tablet pricing details have emerged. To wit:

  • Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab will run you $499 for a Wi-Fi version (top right). That price matches Apple's iPad pricing and Samsung is packing in some key hardware features. But Samsung isn't likely to move the needle on thwarting Apple.
  • ViewSonic announced its ViewPad Android devices (bottom right). The ViewPad 7-inch version will run you $479. The 10-inch version will run you $629. Both versions are Wi-Fi with no 3G.
  • The HP Slate 500 has Windows 7 will cost you $799. Even though the HP Slate is geared for business use, there were plenty of chief information officers with iPads at the Gartner powwow last month.
  • Will Research in Motion's pricing on the PlayBook even be in the ballpark? We don't know yet, but it's unlikely.

These prices illustrate how aggressive Jobs was at the iPad launch. Apple had the device and the pricing to arguably grab at least an 18-month lead.

Photos: 20 iPad competitors to watch

So what happened?

  • Apple built its own chips to take on an industry that clearly wasn't ready for the iPad's launch. It will take the Android ecosystem another rev on the product cycle just to approach what Apple has today.
  • The players taking on Apple all have some sort of restriction. Apple has its own components, software and design specs. Apple also doesn't give a hoot where it gets its parts. Now contrast that with rivals. Samsung as a massive tech conglomerate has a few built in advantages, but it's Korea's champion. The company is not going to go to China for parts.
  • The software ecosystem isn't ready. Microsoft is cramming Windows 7 into a tablet. HP has the webOS waiting in the wings. Android isn't quite tablet ready yet. Apple had the ecosystem and operating system. Apple just had to add a 10-inch screen.

A few weeks ago, it appeared that Jobs was just ranting about Android on the company's earnings conference call. But one thing he had right in that well-documented rant was the pricing model as iPad mote.

"Our potential competitors are having a tough time coming close to iPad's pricing even with their far smaller, far less expensive screens. The iPad incorporates everything we've learned about building high value products from iPhones, iPods and Macs. We create our own A4 chip, our own software, our own battery chemistry, our own enclosure, our own everything, and this results in an incredible product at a great price. The proof of this will be in the pricing of our competitors' products which will likely offer less for more."

Indeed, that less for more strategy is exactly what Apple's rivals are pursuing. Perhaps, the iPad killers will emerge, but no one seems to be able to go toe-to-toe. As a result, you'll have downmarket devices---Cherrypal's CherryPad and Barnes & Noble's Nook Color quasi-tablet---and premium plays that can't threaten Apple's pricing.

Add it up and the iPad will enjoy at least another 6 months of market domination---most likely more.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

    Nice! Finally an Android tablet with Bluetooth! Looks like the Viewsonic ViewPad 7" is my early favorite.
    Real World
    • I see nothing that I like in Android tablets. Apple was brilliant with the

      A4 processor that also has 1GB of memory in the same package. That allowed them to get their costs way down, and still maintain their margins better than anybody else. That said, I do not want an iPad either, as there is no USB or SD slot, or HDMI.

      What I want:

      1.2 GHz dual core arm.
      2 usb
      2 microSD slots
      11.5 inch screen
      16 hour battery life.
      Of course thin and light weight.
      • To each his own

        @DonnieBoy, I agree with you on most of the specs, but not the screen size. If I buy a tablet, I want it to compliment my desktop and laptop, not replace them. As such, I would want a smaller form factor (sorry, Steve). We'll have to see, but I think a 7" or 8" size would offer the best combination. If I am going to lug around a 10" to 12" model I might as well just carry a netbook or small laptop, which would at least give me a keyboard and better functionality.
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        You left out what you'd be willing to pay for these specs on an Android tablet:
        Certainly a good spec set - though we're pretty close with the AG2 (it's the ZT-180 latest version): you can get this Android tablet for less than $200 at -

        Not entirely understanding the 2 microSD slots, but would be interested to know the intended utility of this.
        NOTE: We will be adding a capacitive screen option before the end of the year. - Best Android Tablets and Phones
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        @AndroidGold, DonnieBoy probably wants 2 microSD slots, because with most Android devices, you'll fill up one with your applications, etc., and you'll want another free to copy in pictures from your camera, etc. (although that could also be done via the USB connection)
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        @To each his own, I agree on the screen size. One of the big reasons I want this is to do e-books and web browsing in non-office settings. The iPad is just too big to do this with one hand. The thing weighs 1.5lbs. The new BlackBerry Playbook is the closest to most of those specs (we won't know what the battery life is until release but since BB's are so much better than iPhones, I wouldn't be surprised if it's in that range).
      • A fantasy in today's market

        @DonnieBoy :
        I can't argue the performance specs too badly, but honestly the majority of your wish list is almost pure fantasy and not very functional.
        <b>* 1.2 GHz dual core arm</b> A bit of a power hog, considering your later requirement, but definitely quick.
        <b>* 2 usb</b> Why? I might be able to see one on a tablet, but honestly, why two? The more you hang off the device, the less mobile it becomes and the more you suck down the battery.
        <b>* 2 microSD slots</b> Again, why two? In most cases the SD card is used as an external drive, not as on-board hard drive space. Yes, it could increase the total capacity of the tablet, but at what cost in usability?
        <b> * 11.5 inch screen</b> Now I could see a possibility here. A tablet with 8.5/11.5 inch overall dimensions could readily replace the average hardboard clipboard for note-taking and almost any other purpose for which you carry paper documents around on one. It's also big enough to make viewing videos and text documents single-page easy.
        <b>* 16 hour battery life</b> This one is the real fantasy. Even without the big screen and all those plug-in ports, you would almost need two of Apple's batteries just to get close. Anything attached via USB or uSD is going to draw on that battery and the bigger screen adds even more draw. Making it to 16 hours with all of the above would take a minimum of three of Apple's batteries--leaving very little room for anything else.
        <b>* WiFi</b> At least. WiFi hotspots are fairly common, but if you don't have some way to tether it to your cell phone, you'd better have 3G or better networking included. For the moment, I'll assume the need is minimal.
        <b>* Of course thin and light weight</b> Hmmm... Batteries, larger screen, all those slots and associated wiring, hot processor... I'd say at best you're going to hit just under 3 pounds and no less than 1/2" thick. Not bad...

        Now, add up the cost of all that. Probably more than double the price of the iPad at best. Hope you can get a really good subsidy.
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        @DonnieBoy I find the battery life of the iPad is longer than it needs to be by large amount. That means I'm carrying around a device that's twice as heavy as it needs to be.
      • SD card

        @DonnieBoy You can buy the Camera Connection Kit for the iPad and get USB and an SD slot and it will still cost you less than most competitor's pads. The 16 hour battery life and the screen/processor/weight you cite are mutually exclusive. You can't have both with any technology coming soon.

        Maybe tablets won't be right for some people for 5-10 years. In the meantime Apple's the best game in town by a mile.
      • Let's be realistic ...

        @DonnieBoy ...

        I agree on a dual core processor but why not Atom or Celeron? Windows 7?

        I think 1 USB port and 1 SD/MicroSD slot is sufficient for the tablet user.

        I also like the 1.5" screen, although I would probably opt for an 8.5x11 overall device size.

        As for battery life, all you is enough RELIABLE battery life to get you from one outlet to another. Eight to ten hours is plenty. Charge while you eat and sleep.

        Wi-Fi of course.

        The real challenge though is THIN and LIGHT!
        M Wagner
      • Wait, wha?

        <b>2 microSD slots</b> One card alone plus internal memory holds more then average iOS device.
        <b>2 USB</b> What for? I never understood this want. Your storage comes from the microSD cards. So is it for mice and keyboard? If that's so, then your missing the point of a tablet altogether.
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        @DonnieBoy ... and don't forget an express machine
      • Can't Hang on Pricing Only in America!

      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        @DonnieBoy <br>For the first time I am agree with you totally. I have an iPad and I enjoy it. I can connec to USB devices with the adapter, of course you have to pay extra for it and also you can connect an external camera and use it, even though it is not handy enough. The only part missing is integration with Office or similar parts. I don't like iWorks. Period.
        Ram U
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        @DonnieBoy What you describe is very similar to the new MacBook Air 13". Of course, you'll get a faster processor, one less SD slot, 1 1/2 inch larger screen, and a whole lot more. Yes, the price of entry is a little steep, but then again, you get what you pay for.
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing


        And, you got nearly everything you asked for with the MacBook Air 11.6".
      • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

        2 microsd cards does make sense at the very present time. Its much cheaper to buy 2 32gig cards vs 1 64gig card. And more likely people will buy 8 and 16 gig cards and swap them out (8gig class 6 is a lot cheaper than scaling up). But if you install a lot of apps, its nice to keep one card installed all the time for apps and just swap the 2nd card with external media.

        You may think 64gigs is a lot of space but these are devices that plays HD video. Those mkv videos will eat up your storage space in a heartbeat.
    • RE: Apple iPad's rivals can't hang on pricing

      Viewsonic is a joke. If you don't believe me, buy one, then try to get it repaired at their ONE repair center for less than you paid for the product in under a months time.
    • 2 of each may be too many...and ... here are better specs..

      @DonnieBoy.... usb and SD storage can be put into just one usb 3.0 slot and a external reader/port addon device. Arm will have a Quad core that will be using less energy and be 60% faster than your power hungry 2 core. 11.5" is ok but it should be 11.0 x 7.5 to fit into a binder or folder along with your supporting paper copy documentation. Thin, figure 5/8" is about your thinest possible solution for some time or until the foldable/rollable screens come out (then the pad becomes bar with a screen stretch mechanism). With the foldable/rollable screen technology, battery life will not be an issue since most of your power usage other than the cpu is in the screen.
      That should be much better than the current iPad to date. (most of these techs are only a few to 18 mo away)
      Personally, i dont use iPads since they remind me of large iPods (since the computing power is missing from iPad still) and not having external connections to storage mediums.
      BUT, i have to agree that Apple is one (large) step ahead of all the competition (since these companies are not thinking about price/function clearly).
      • RE: Better specs

        @dtroyerSMU The fly in the ointment is your last comment, that all of the techs you list are only a few to 18 months away. It's a given that come January, the next version of the iPad will be announced, probably shipping in March / April. All the current scuttlebutt says it will be equipped with a camera, and I'm wagering it will have the next iteration of the A4 (faster speed -- guessing 1.2 - 1.4 GHz) and more on-board RAM (probably 512 MB, but maybe 1 GB, up from the current 256 MB). If the techs you list truly take 18 months to come about, Apple will have released TWO updates to the iPad by that time. Either way, those techs may not do more than close the gap instead of vaulting the competition into the lead.

        Having watched the steady evolution of Apple's products for the last ten years, I'm sure that all of this is part of a massive long-term strategy they've been building this whole time, designed to give them such a massive lead that it will take the competition years to catch up. Combine that with Apple's obvious new willingness to kill off a product line to intro a new one (look at the iPod Nano, which replaced the then-best-selling iPod Mini), and I think it's clear that Apple learned the lessons of the PC era and will make sure they're one step ahead of the competition for as many years as possible.