Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

Summary: HP's TouchPad, RIM's PlayBook and Samsung's Galaxy Tab are the latest in the parade of rivals targeting Apple's iPad. The problem is that the rivals are dealing in a market where most folks think the iPad is the tablet market.

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It's another day and another rival to Apple's iPad to consider. This tablet parade is getting a bit packed. HP has its TouchPad queued up. Samsung has its 10-inch Galaxy Tab on the market. Research in Motion shipped 500,000 PlayBooks in its most recent quarter. And everyone ranging from Acer to Huawei has some sort of tablet on the runway.

The targets are all the same: Apple. The mission is to be a solid No. 2. Fortunately, we get to play with these new tablets as they come out. Samsung's Galaxy Tab has the hardware, improved software and features to appeal to folks that want something other than the iPad. In fact, the Galaxy Tab works fine for me. I check email, surf the Web and play Angry Birds. I'm a simpleton. For my use case, there are multiple tablets that could fit my needs.

However, it's a bit hard to notice that everyone I saw over a laptop-free weekend called the Galaxy Tab the iPad. The iPad is like the Xerox machine. We all know that there are copiers, but Xerox took the title and ran with it. To most folks, the iPad equals the tablet market. And rightly so: Apple was there first, created a form factor and priced its wares so aggressively that rivals can't undercut the iPad.

This inescapable fact colors every tablet that hits the market. If you never touched an iPad, these rival devices would seem pretty neat. Unfortunately for the rivals, Apple has built a big iPad ecosystem while apps for Google's Android tablets, RIM's PlayBook and HP's WebOS will be lacking in raw numbers. You want to cut the rivals a break just for the storyline, but in many tablet buying decisions the iPad wins.

And then there's price. Given the best these Apple rivals can do is price their devices the same as Apple---a $499 starter price---you're left with the following question: If you're paying the same price why wouldn't you stick with the best tablet app ecosystem?

Those issues are why Jason Perlow can proclaim the HP TouchPad (right)  dead on arrival and James Kendrick figured that rivals are already on their last stand vs. Apple. I see HP's TouchPad as an enterprise playReviews of the Galaxy Tab were similar: Nice device, but not quite up to par with the iPad.

Now if the 10-inch Galaxy Tab were $300 you'd look over the imperfections in a hurry. Ditto for the HP TouchPad. But that's a money-losing proposition for the vendors. The challenge is that you either have to outperform the iPad or beat it on price. Any tie goes to Apple. It's like an incumbent politician who has built in advantages at the start of a campaign.

If you couple the aforementioned challenges with simple word of mouth and you quickly see how Apple has its iPad franchise nicely defended. Most IT folks are also family influencers. People consistently ask you what to buy. Short of avoiding iTunes or loving Flash, it's hard to find a good reason to tell someone to skip the iPad for any of the rivals. What would you tell your mom to buy? Unless rivals elbow their way into that recommendation it's hard to see them competing with the iPad.

What about the enterprise? RIM talked up a bevy of enterprise pilots, but SAP's statistics probably tell the tale. As of late April SAP was testing 200 PlayBooks, but had 4,000 iPads deployed. SAP and RIM are tight partners. HP will also get its share of deployments and pilots. But winning over a company may not be much different than a tablet recommendation to a relative. You need good word of mouth and "almost as good" isn't much of a selling point.

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

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  • Pad computers actually pre-date the iPad

    I had a Honeywell Webpad for many years until the battery quit in 2007 long before the iPad saw the light of day so like many others, Apple too is a "me too" company. Additionally, not all competitors have the same starting price. My Asus Transformer cost $399. The dock/keyboard/battery extender raised the total cost to $548 and represents a far better value (dual core, GPS, Flash, USB ports, HDMI, etc).

    I can agree with the author that not everyone WANTS an iPad (I sold mine for the Asus) but I disagree that a "tie" goes to Apple. The only clear advantage the iPad HAD was the quality of the screen. That quality has now been matched so now, there is real choice in the marketplace at the high end.

    The iPad's stellar success will be short lived because like the extinct Honeywell WebPad, the 10" form factor is a tad too big to be portable. The future belongs to thinner, lighter devices like the Nook.
    Corey340
    • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

      @Corey340
      [I]I can agree with the author that not everyone WANTS an iPad (I sold mine for the Asus) [/I]
      You must be one of the many [B]dozens[/B] who have done that.
      [I]The iPad's stellar success will be short lived because like the extinct Honeywell WebPad, the 10" form factor is a tad too big to be portable. The future belongs to thinner, lighter devices like the Nook.[/I]
      So is 10" the only reason why the WebPad is no more? And second question, are you equating the WebPad with the iPad?
      MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
      • And, anyway, 'we' and Larry's question is masses of common people, who made

        @MG537: ... Acer to cut almost in half its year plan for tablet production. People mostly want iPads for now.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @Corey340

        The MAJORITY of the public don't give a damn about specs or openness or anything technical. They want an Apple product, because that's what the cool people are using. I'm not saying they're right, but that's the reality. Non-iPads have to come down to at LEAST half the price of iPads (probably down to 1/3), but with the EXACT same specs OR they have to be able to do twice as much as the iPad and still be slightly cheaper. That's the reality of the market, like it or not. Until that happens, Apple will absolutely dominate the competition, just like they do with iPods. No one else can even come close.
        HappyXWindowsUser
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @MG537 actually, I'm selling my iPad in favor of the Asus as well. The man is right, the Asus represents a far better value, even at equal price pints, and its $100 less expensive. Do a YouTube search for transformer vs Ipad2 and you will se that practically everyone who has used both andbpays for them actually agrees.
        BoomBustBlog
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @DeRSSS no, people just don't want the ACER!
        slickjim
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @Corey340, Maconvert
        Actually, you missed out on an important factor: Quality! People don't want an Apple product because they are cool, people want them because of the quality of the iOS and construction of the device. A ford does everything a BMW does, so are you going to tell me that you'd downgrade your BMW M3 for a Taurus just because you can save a couple of bucks?
        Bansaku
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @Bansaku

        Actually, can anyone justify buying a Ford when they can get a BMW for the same price?
        HappyXWindowsUser
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @MG537

        You provided the best laugh I've had in a long time.
        thofts
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @MG537 Agreed. As well, the iPad detractors wouldn't know "value" if it bit them on the ass. "Value", you trinket junkies, has nothing what so ever to do with ports, specs and MHz and other laundry lists of details that won't save the competition from the landfill. The value of an iPad is what you can do with it and how it does it. Not a single one of the "specs" the dweebs think are so important will improve the miserable UI or lag of Honeycomb.
        His_Shadow
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        "Value, you trinket junkies, has nothing what so ever to do with ports, specs and MHz and other laundry lists of details that won't save the competition from the landfill."

        This is what renders it impossible for me to communicate with Apple-lovers. It's like trying to discuss religion. What you're doing is moving the discussion into subjective territory so nothing can be quantified so that your theory can remain perpertually non-falsifiable. I keep getting phrases like "it's better," "it's easier", "the total experience", etc. That's a bunch of subjective poppycock. Tell me you can access this function two menu levels deep on device A vs. 3 on device B or just stop, because otherwise you're not actually communicating anything.

        "The value of an iPad is what you can do with it and how it does it." No. No it's not. You can't do anything on an iPad you can't do on a laptop. You can do lots of things on a laptop you can't do on an iPad. Also - HOW does it do it? You push the screen. If there's some incredible, wonderful, amazing way you touch the screen of the iPad that's radically different from any other device, please clue in the rest of us. Otherwise, Maconvert is correct. There IS NO market for an iPad. There's a market for Apple. If someone else had produced the iPad first, it wouldn't have sold, just as tablet PCs never sold. People who have iPads can't even *quantify* the benefit of their not-pocketable device over existing non-pocketable devices nor explain why its drawbacks over existing non-pocketable devices don't count. It's no different than the non-Apple netbook craze that is dying out now, other than being worse. In the end, just like with netbooks, few will be able to explain why they felt they needed one in the first place.
        jgm@...
        • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

          @jgm@... Following up what was implied in my post: it's all subconscious psychology. They've taken people with allegiance to Coke or Pepsi and given them blind taste tests. They've then taken those who were loyal to brand A but chose brand B and explained to them they'd chosen the competition while monitoring their brain function. The subjects will then start saying things like "...wait? Did I really like the second one better? Now that I think about it, it was a little too sweet..." What area of their brain "lights up"? The part responsible for recording LONG-TERM MEMORY. Yes, their brain actually begins to RE-WRITE THEIR MEMORY to have their memories match their pre-existing world-view!!

          Derren Brown demonstrated this as a segment on one of his television shows. Long story short, he had a "gift" for actor Simon Pegg, who had earlier written down what he'd like. Brown brought him into a room filled with subliminal messages regarding bicycles. Brown talked to Pegg first, working all sorts of bike-related words into his speech, tapping Pegg's arm when he used each one. When Pegg was asked what he wanted, he answered "A BMX Bike", which is what Brown had in the box. Pegg then opened his envelope where he'd written he wanted a leather jacket. Pegg swore he didn't write that even though the handwriting was his, claiming he didn't need a leather jacket, etc. His brain was both REWRITING HIS MEMORY and confabulating! Another psych experiment shows faces to people real quick and they have to choose which is the prettiest. The subjects are later shown the one they chose, but it's not really the one they picked, and they are asked to explain why they picked it. Their minds confabulate on the spot, instantly inventing sometimes elaborate explanations for decisions they never really made!

          Anyway, if you look into this stuff enough, you'll begin to understand the iPad phenomenon and why it continues to exist even in the face of products that are superior in every measurable quantity. Even a confrontation with a list of every iPad drawback and competitor advantage won't change the true believer's mind because like with Pegg, their memories will be rewritten on the spot to match their worldview that they made a rational choice with their purchase and that such a decision remains the correct one. Many people bought an iPad because it was made by Apple, Apple commericials told them they'd be cool by extension, and their neighbors had them - just like with a lot of other products, driven by the subconscious, the real driver of our bodies. which then re-writes our memories to justify its own decisions after the fact. I would LOVE to see a psych experiment in which groups of people are being told they're evaluating prototype devices - some are told they're Apple devices, some aren't. I have no doubt which group would get the higher evaluation. In fact, it would be even more interesting to make the items labeled "Apple" noticably deficient in every spec on a list provided to reviewers and see if that sways them or not. Other tests have shown that when someone with a strong belief is provided evidence against it, their confidence in their belief GOES UP, probably as some sort of worldview defense measure.
          jgm@...
    • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

      @Corey340 [i]but I disagree that a "tie" goes to Apple.[/i]

      Unfortunately the numbers say different.

      Any real competitor has to be as good as or better than the iPad, and be significantly lower on price.
      Badgered
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @Badgered Completely disagree. Just look at the iPad2. Why do you think Apple rushed out that product? It was because they were getting pressure from the likes of Samsung and Motorola.<br><br>Also, a huge huge majority of iPad and iPad 2 buyers are exisitng Apple customers. These users would never buy another tablet even if it was cheaper and better. BTW, all the iPad 2 users I know of already had the original iPad so what does that tell you?<br><br>Apple has already lost ground in defining the ecosystem of the tablet. Just look at iOS5. They've implmented/copied Android's ecosystem because they reluctantly accepted that is was better. Things like non-tethered updates, drop down notifications, etc. You know what's coming next from Apple? More ports, different size screen with better resolution, and widgets. All things that the Android market has already established. Mark my words.
        mrxxxman
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @mrxxxman
        I dont know were you get your facts from but it has been stated already that 70% of ipad2 buyers were new customers. Once again were do you get your facts from. This quauter alone android has seen a loss for the first time. Analyst are predicting them to lose even more ground to apple once the iphone 5 hits which would put the ios unmbers ahead.
        What you still do get is that apple has established thier own ecosystem which people want.
        illwill112
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @mrxxxman [i]Just look at the iPad2. Why do you think Apple rushed out that product?[/i]
        Rushed? It was released a year after the original just like Apple is known for doing so how exactly was that rushed?

        [i]Also, a huge huge majority of iPad and iPad 2 buyers are exisitng Apple customers.[/i]
        And what does that tell you? It tells me (and apparently Apple) that their customers are satisfied with previous Apple purchases and come back for more. I personally don't see where this is an issue. If you said the only people buy were previous Apple customers then you might have a point but that isn't the case is it. In other words, their customer base is growing.

        [i]They've implmented/copied Android's ecosystem because they reluctantly accepted that is was better.[/i]
        How have they copied the ecosystem? If anything Android copied what Apple has already successfully done. Did the do their own version of some of the features, copied if you will, sure they did. Of course everyone copies the successes of their competitors in every market that exists so what's your point?
        non-biased
    • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

      @Corey340

      Recent surveys done by Bernstein Research shows you're dead wrong about 10".

      "We find that consumers are not interested in form factors that deviate from the benchmark set by Apple. Few consumers, less than 15 percent prefer the 7 inch screen size versus the 10 inch screen of the iPad. Over 50 percent of respondents are firmly in favor of the 10 inch screen, which leads us to conclude that the 7 inch tablet models recently launched, like the BlackBerry PlayBook, are destined for failure. Consumer?s preference for the 10? form factor explains the lukewarm response to Samsung?s 7 inch Galaxy tablet and the rapid introduction of larger screen models in that series."

      http://allthingsd.com/20110620/consumers-dont-want-tablets-they-want-ipads/#disqus_thread
      dave95.
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @dave95. <br><br>I own an Acer A500 10.1 inch Android pad, but every time I get the chance to play with a 7 inch unit I come away believing that is the right size.<br><br>The 5 and 7 inch units fit in a man's coat pocket. I find that my Droid phone can actually do pretty much anything I care about, but the 3 inch screen is just a bit too small for happy browsing or watching a movie. I suspect that this is equally true for an iPhone vs an iPad.<br><br>While the 10 inch size is nice when sitting on the sofa at home, I find that it is just big enough to be a bother when carrying it around at work.<br><br>Many of those I talk to in my daily work in IT express a similar sentiment, give me a bigger smartphone so I only need one device.<br><br>I realize that this really has nothing to do with Apple vs everyone else as Apple can make a 7 inch iPad easily if that turns out to be the sweet spot.<br><br>The 7 inch factor probably also gets the cost down so we see the $250 pad regardless of who makes it.

        Anyway, just one person's opinion.
        sbf95070
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @dave95.

        WTF is wrong with the jackasses running Wall Street now that 40% margins on 15% of 100 million people isn't worth their time? No wonder the economy is in a rut. Idiots.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Are we too hard on Apple's iPad rivals?

        @sbf95070<br><br>I'm not really trying to choose one form (10") over the other (7"). Although I do feel that the 10" represents a truer tablet experience than 7" or smaller devices. I was just trying to address what Corey340 was saying that the iPad success will be short live because of its size. Dead wrong. There will be room for all forms and sizes going forward, Apple may even release a smaller version, but stats show that the 10" size is the preferred tablet size. This is why we see so many Android OEMs following suit instead of building more 7" devices. <br><br>I did some web comparison on a 7" Tab and iPad and what i found was on many occasions, I needed to zoom in on text on the Tab while on the iPad, I could read the entire page text without Zooming. That to me makes all the difference when choosing a preferred size. No compromising the tablet experience. My iPhone will continue to be the perfect on-the-go mobile device for quick access to my info.
        dave95.