iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

Summary: iSuppli's Teardown Analysis of eight tablet models concludes that the current offerings just can't compete with the iPad.


There have been many more tablets this year that have tried to take on the iPad. Perhaps the HP TouchPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab have come the closest to giving Apple a real challenge. Some would say the latter has more so in looks.

If that was the intention, then at least Samsung would have been on the right track, based on the latest report from iSuppli.

The market research firm is pretty succinct in its overall summary: No one else has been able to "match the design efficiency of Apple Inc.’s groundbreaking product."

Wayne Lam, a senior analyst of competitive analysis at IHS, said in a statement:

These efficiencies become obvious in areas like the memory and the battery, where Apple maintains advantages in cost, space savings and performance compared with every competitor in the business.

The most obvious competitors to compare Apple to are Android-based tablet makers. Lam continues:

Apple takes a vertically integrated approach to its products, from the operating system to the user interface, to the hardware design, down to the selection of individual parts used in the device.

For example, Apple even uses its own applications processor design in both the iPad and iPad 2. In contrast, Android tablet makers buy those capabilities from the likes of Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. This gives Apple greater control in multiple areas of product development.

This opinion is surely going to anger many people, from other tablet manufacturers to consumers who don't care for Apple products in general.

But that doesn't mean that this analysis should just be disregarded and ignored. On the contrary, it should serve as a wake up call to tablet designers and developers. Perhaps they need to look more closely at what Apple has done right and what customers are looking for. That doesn't mean outright copy what Apple has produced, but obviously there is a lesson to be learned from this device.


Topics: Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

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  • No one but Apple can afford to do this though

    Apple releases 1 model a year (ignoring different capacities) and due to its iTunes ecosystem (some would say lock-in) is guaranteed to make back every penny (and much more) that it spends on customizing chips for its iPad.

    Competitors are simply unable to do this. They can't even make back their money when using off the shelf parts.

    The tablet market right now is totally dysfunctional from a competitive viewpoint. I'm not saying it got this way due to anything illegal (I'll let the courts decide that one) but there is no doubt in my mind that nothing can compete with the iPad.
    • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

      Didn't they say the same about the iPhone? Right before Android arrived?
      • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

        @Tigertank, humm, nope don't think so.
    • It's the vertical approach that's succeeding here...

      @toddybottom <br><br>Microsoft can afford to compete. Google can afford to compete. Amazon can also compete.<br><br>The problem is two of the above goliath mentioned is in the business of handing over (or licensing) their OS to OEMs to screwup, instead of controlling the whole experience themselves like Apple is doing. Apple controls the whole pizza pie, even down to the stores the pies are sold in (Apple Stores). Which allows them to be aggressive on price without sacrificing the experience. It all contributes to its runaway success. <br><br>I thought we've learnt this from the iPod? Consumers want to be handed a complete working solution when it comes to tablets. Despite MS decade long attempts it's still a new market to most. Less complexity, more hand holding is what's needed. This is why Apple is winning. As it stands now with the competition, Google is providing the OS, Samsung is providing the hardware, carriers are providing the bundled apps that cant be uninstalled. OEMs have their own unique skins, and bundle their own app stores. Something goes wrong who do consumers go to for support, the OEM, Carrier, Google, Best Buy?
      • I disagree

        Microsoft, Google, and Amazon cannot afford to compete.

        Microsoft can afford to lose money and lose money they are willing to do. They aren't competing though, one look at their sales figures tells us that. They have also gone on record over and over and over again stating that they are not going to compete with the iPad. Right or wrong, MS is trying to put full blown Windows on a tablet. That isn't competition.

        Google is actually very happy with the way things are working out in the short term. They get ad revenues and are somehow magically sheltered from both MS and Apple patent claims. I believe that Android, as a long term product, is toast. Google, however, has absolutely no interest in competing with the iPad.

        I don't think Amazon cares to compete with the $500 iPad. They, like Google, make no money from the device, the only make money from what people do on the device. The only reason they are in the eReader market is because Apple won't ever sell a $100 portal to the Amazon store. It is those $100 readers that will maximize Amazon's profits by increasing the sales of eBooks and magazines and whatever else Amazon decides to sell.

        HP is the only one truly trying to compete with the iPad and that has been an utter disaster. How on earth can HP justify spending billions in R&D to customize chips when they are losing a ton of money on the uncustomized TouchPads?

        I don't disagree with anything else you wrote though. In an ideal world, someone would offer us a true competitor to the iPad. It will not be MS, Google, or Amazon and HP is going to leave this market after 2-3 years of losing a lot of money each and every year. This is my prediction.
      • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

        >>It will not be MS, Google, or Amazon and HP is going to leave this market after 2-3 years of losing a lot of money each and every year.
        Well I agree with most of what you wrote except the above line. Microsoft never really looked into consumerization of enterprise before. But now if you look into their enterprise offerings, they are consumerizing them. Thats why they are opening the stores, and are investing into WP7 and online services. 90s and early 2000s was business to consumers and now it is exactly opposite, consumers are going to dictate the businesses. They (Microsoft) know that they are into long marathon and they are readying themselves for this.
        Ram U
      • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

        @dave95. "Which allows them to be aggressive on price" - yeah, that's why Macs give you so much hardware value for so little money, right?

        Then I thought about this a bit more, and the key difference is timing and initial success.

        In the case of PCs vs. Macs, Apple were a dinosaur hanging on to the old "competing locked tribalism" of the pre-PC home computer market, when users clung to and fiercely defended their choice of tribe, and could share no experience with other tribes.

        As such, Macs were a costly niche product, compared to generic and open PCs. Even though the IBM PC was a dreadful hardware design (TV-incompatible graphics, appalling CGA, ROMs in the middle of the memory map, archaic hard drive interface when SCSI was cheap and standard in 32-bit home computers), being an open platform meant faster hardware development.

        Return to the scene a few years ago, and much of what was unique about the Mac has gone. First, Apple gave up on "special" dlots and interfaces, adopting IDE, PCI and USB, so they could share the mega-tribe's hardware experience. Later, as their tribal processor fell behind Intel, they dumped the whole unique hardware thing and are now effectively standard Intel with contrived obstacles to sharing MacOS.

        MacOS itself stopped being a unique OS when once again, Apple hitched a free ride of superior development, basing the new OS on BSD.

        None of that makes modern Mac a bad product, but what is exposed is how heavily Apple marks up on what is a generic baseline, for the smaller value of OS UI top-dressing and branding gloss.

        In contrast, Apple is an early success in the sub-PC space, with different economies of scale. Here, they are the largest consumer of manufactured components, so the tail gets to wag the dog; even though they're a closed tribe as they weere with the Mac, they can attract the best development and lowset prices on the parts they resell.

        Hence they can do the "monopoly crush"; price low, to build market share, instead of being a small-time player surviving (well) through high margins on the fervent faithful.
  • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

    I've been saying this in the past few tablet related articles that have been posted. Facts are facts despite how much Apple haters don't want to hear it.

    I'm happy with my Transformer, but Apple scored the ultimate winner with the iPad.
  • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

    I would put Asus Transformer in the list of Tablets that come closest to put some challenge for iPads. Actually more transformers are sold than Galaxy Tab, I don't have a proof to support my statement, but thats what I found. I didn't see returns for Transformer, but I have seen returns for Galaxy Tab at local BestBuy and other stores.
    Ram U
  • Stating the obvious?

    iSuppli is just figuring this out now?

    I think people have been pointing this out for years - not only can Apple modify software to compensate for shortcoming in hardware, they can modify hardware to compensate for shortcomings in software or other hardware, something OEM's building with "off the shelf" parts can't.

    This is the reason companies like AMD buy ATI graphics - more overall control over more hardware and chips in a system.
    William Farrell
  • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

    [I]That doesn't mean outright copy what apple has produced...[/I]

    If past is prologue, yes it does.

    The general rule of thumb is to copy Apple, and then say you were really copying some much older more rudimentary version of Apples paradigm. "you know, Texas Instruments was doing something like this in 1978, so...., uh Apple is the copycat."
    • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

      @Tigertank I hear that. What Apple's competitors should really be copying is the way Apple runs its business.
      Mark Lechman
  • What I've been saying for years now

    Apple makes products that are greater than the sum of it's parts. When the iPod was making waves competitors tried to bury the iPod with "features" and "price". They would practically scream that their MP3 player had Y more features and logically was the better product. Or theirs had more featured and sold for less!!!! Yet still the iPod sold in huge numbers and they could not understand why? So they came up with "Apple fanatics were responsible". Or "It has to be some trick of marketing that Apple is pulling of". They kept looking at features and or price as the magic bullets when all along they failed to see they were looking at the tree's and ignoring the forest. The iPod was the total solution cause iTunes made it a complete product... The consumer had his/her tool/resource to browse and purchase music. While competitors kind of left that to the consumers to figure out on their own... But hey theirs had more "features":)

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

      @James Quinn " Yet still the iPod sold in huge numbers and they could not understand why? "

      Marketing. End of story. iPods became the hot "it" item to
      have like Furbies or Crocs.

      There is no tablet market. There is only an iPad market. Most people buy iPads because they're iPads.

      "Greater than the sum of its parts" is the kind of thing I've been railing about here for weeks now. That... doesn't... say... anything. What does that MEAN? Nothing is literally greater than the sum of its parts. It's a subjective statement that can't be qualified or meaningfully evaluated and drives those not making it to distraction when advocates are wholly unable to give a fact-based description of a product's virtues. Don't tell me the product has "a better user experience" and then not be able to tell me that to activate function X it takes 2 taps on your iPad and 3 on your Android. If you can't quantify it, it's not real.
      • I think I spelled out how the iPod was

        @jgm@... Greater than the sum of it's parts earlier but I will repeat myself for you. The iPod came with iTUnes while other's products did not. Sure there were options out there but it was up to the consumer to pick and choose from several so the MP3 player loaded with ton's of features and perhaps priced lower than a given iPod was still incomplete and took customers actions to make it a truly usable product. Like selling toasters sans a power cord. Sure it was a perfectly good toaster but for some reason the guy down the street selling toasters complete with a power cord readly to be plugged in and used out of the box was selling many more than everyone else. This despite the fact that his toasters with the power cord were more expensive and they did not have a dozen browning options only 6.

        You keep looking at features, and focus on price I'm sure that will work for you after all you can measure that now can't ya and so far it's has worked so well. By the by the iPod is still the number one seller in a market shrinking but it has been so for 10 years or more now. Even if I grant you that Marketing was the trick back in the day when was the last time you saw an iPod commercial? I'm betting it was several years ago right? So here we have the iPod took the number one spot and has held it ever since not ever being seriously challenged but you still think that a few iPod commercials several years ago made all that happen and continued to make it happen long after he commercials and buzz faded? right! Not buying it:P

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

        @jgm@... ever heard of Gestalt? Just because something can't be quantified doesn't mean it's not real. Can you quantify happiness? No. But is it real? Most people would say yes.
        Mark Lechman
      • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

        @jgm@... Mark Lechman No, anything that exists in our reality, or affects our reality, can be measured and studied. If it doesn't affect our reality, its existence is irrelevant.

        I can indeed place you in an fMRI and measure whether the pleasure centers of your brain are stimulated and decide whether or not you are indeed experiencing happiness. There's a new field of "neural marketing" (very immature and with lots of hype) aiming to do just that.
  • RE: iSuppli: Tablet competitors can't compete with iPad's design

    This analysis is somewhat hokey. Precisely the things they're crowing about the iPad are what are destroying the iPhone.

    "For example, Apple even uses its own applications processor design in both the iPad and iPad 2. In contrast, Android tablet makers buy those capabilities from the likes of Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. This gives Apple greater control in multiple areas of product development."

    It also limits it to one design. It's like biology. Google has multiple vendors building Android phones, so if you want small phones, large phones, keyboard phones, etc. they're out there. It's evolution... a huge pool of slightly different products all competing and adapting. Then you have... the iPhone. As they say in horse racing, I'd "take the field" over one single competitor any day. You have HTC... and Samsung... and Sony... and LG... and many others all working on improving the product. And then you have... just Apple. The might of all those companies together is greater than just Apple.

    Tablet competitors have NVidia... and TI... and Qualcomm... and others all designing and innovating. Again, I'd take the field over just Apple. Which gets more work done... a triple core processor or a single core processor? I'll take three large companies all developing products over one any day. If I wanted to build a tablet, there's a whole host of different third party solutions available which means enough choice to most likely find a good match to price/performance/power design specifications. If Apple wants something different, they're going to be stuck designing and building it themselves if they go the custom chip route. That can be considered as much a drawback as an advantage, especially when you consider pricing. TI, for instance, can amortize development costs over many, many customers buying their chips while Apple can't do that.

    This analysis seems to paint with broad strokes and not look at the potential negatives of many of the facts they've sited; I hope it's really of better quality than what's presented here.
    • Destroying the iPhone? Huh!?!

      @jgm@... Each and every report says that each quarter Apple has sold MORE iPhones and is making tons of money off of these sales. Sure if you combine all Android OEM's together in one mass more Android phones are sold than iPhones but who is making any money? In fact you can't find a single Android OEM even one as large as Samsung that sells as many Android phones as Apple sells iPhones. Let's be clear here you can be proud that everyone and their mother is selling Android phones and there for the numbers are impressive but ONLY if you combine everyone's sales and if you look at profit well then even then you can't find anything to be proud of where Android is concerned where the iPhone shines like a sun. One final point to drive home Apple is selling ever increasing numbers of iPhones each and every quarter period end of story so where do you get the idea that your "field" is effecting the iPhone? Seems far more likely they are effecting BB and or Nokia.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Better rethink what you said!

        @James Quinn

        Just saying that the iPhones sales count is for the multiple models as well. You don't go by certain models, you go by which is selling more. And statistics say its Android.
        Now another thing about hardware sales, sales usually reported by companies are sales they made to retailers, not to customers. Which means a AT&T could have bought 5 million of those iPhones, and still have 3 million left to sell. So sales are skewed for comparison.

        And you should look at those sales of smartphones, i think android has a bigger increase than apple. Especially since it started with less, and now has more.