Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

Summary: Price cuts or innovation - which can help tablet sales the most?


Tablet makers need to drop their prices in order to increase market share, say analyst firm Forrester. But is having a 'race to the bottom' the answer?

Not only is price an issue, but Forrester also believes that tablet OEMs need to develop better business and content apps for their devices, and that content providers need to focus on optimizing content for the various browsers rather than create apps for the various platforms.

While the idea that if OEMs drop the price of tablets, they'll sell more units sounds like it makes sense, cutting margins is not necessarily a good thing for the long term viability of tablets as a whole. We saw OEMs aggressively cut the prices of netbooks to the point where profit margins became razor thin, but this hasn't helped netbooks in the long run.

Another factor to bear in mind is that competing on price has never been an effective weapon again Apple. There are countless media player that are cheaper than the iPod (no matter which iPod you're talking about), and yet the iPod is dominant. There are plenty of smartphones that are cheaper than the iPhone, yet the iPhone is a huge powerhouse.

Price is only part of the equation. While I agree that some OEMs have priced their tablet offerings out of the market, I'd like to see OEMs start thinking outside of the box and start innovating rather than ham-fistedly copying whatever Apple seems to be doing. There's only one iPad ... the iPad. What I want to see from OEMs such as Samsung, Motorola, HP and so on is innovation, both in terms of the hardware and the software. There's plenty of room in the market for the OEMs to differentiate their products from the competition ... it just takes a little effort!

[poll id="668"]

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Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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  • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

    OEMS should prepare for Windows 8, stop wasting time and money on more or less useless android tablets, and bring thin, light and durable tablets and stop copying apple. Samsung devices have excellent quality, but some of their designs raise eyebrows and unfortunately their 10.1 tab seems to get a worldwide ban.
    • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

      @owlnet They're probably thinking stick to Android or wait for a WP7 windwos 8
    • Neither Windows 8 or Android... Quality at a Low Cost!

      It's not really the OS that's holding good competition down. What has been lacking so far is a tablet that operates and feels like an iPad at a much lower cost. Perhaps that's an impossible combination to aim for. Perhaps Apple brought-in the iPad at the lowest possible price for the high quality offered.

      I know for a fact that 2010 was the year that the iPad set a standard that no emerging competitor could equal. I purchased several and found that the lower the cost, the wider the quality gap was. But even dollar for dollar, the competition couldn't equal the sturdy build, non-sagging glass screen, capacitive touch that operated the way it should, etc, etc.

      Android junkies kept touting that their OS was superior, but they seemed to be the only ones who truly felt so.

      If a Windows tablet is truly going to compete, it must enter the market at a competitive price and an OS that has Windows so far hidden and buried that most of won't even realize it's lurking under the surface! My decade long experience with Windows tablets has brought more yawns than excited cheers.
    • Buy an ipad if you want an ipad....

      @owlnet <br><br>And buy an Android for wha it offers. I'm not overly interested in the price but more than happy with what my Asus Transformer brings to my party. I also have an ipad but thats not much good for inserting films via sd cards, usb drives or watching via hdmi. This works for me but clearly not everyone needs, or wants, to get media onto their device simply. And I will probably buy one or two low end devices to replace the dvd screens in the car..... they wont need to be ipad killers; just Android devices that offer me 'value'.<br><br>Why are so many of you hung up on ipads and squashing good honest devices that others find useful> Why the hatred of anything non ipad? I dont get it, apart from the feeling a lot of clowns want to rule my space. Go forth and leave us alone.
      • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?
        You can transfer files using from an SD card (there is an adapter for about $20) that you plug into the docking port. Its not much bigger than the SD card itself.
      • ... buy an Android if you want an Android. : In reality, Android doesn't offer anything more than iOS other than the ability to play under the hood, which most users could care less about. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and the two tend to be opposites in those areas, one strong where the other is weak--but that doesn't make either one the be-all/end-all of the tablet market.

        The problem with the concept of "Cheaper tablets" is that the quality of the hardware and the 'finish' of the OS is going to be significantly below that of the iPad, just as those low-priced Android phones have proven to be physically junk that forces an owner to either buy an upgrade before their 2-year contract expires or pay an Early Termination Fee.

        <i>Why are so many of you hung up on Androids and squashing good, honest devices that others find useful? Why the hatred of anything Apple? I don't get it, apart from the feeling a lot of clowns want to rule my space. Go forth and leave us alone.</i> Sound familiar?
      • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance? [i]This works for me but clearly not everyone needs, or wants, to get media onto their device simply.[/i]
        As already pointed out you can get the SD card adapter for the iPad. Sure this is an addition minimal cost but you can't play it off that there is no option. Also how much simpler is it to get a movie onto your Transformer with an SD card than it is to get it on an iPad? How does the movie get onto the SD card to begin with? Oh you have to copy it to the SD card on a computer just as you would into iTunes which will automatically copy it to the iPad as soon as it is plugged in. Sounds pretty simple to me. Of course even simpler is to purchase/rent it through iTunes directly on the iPad.

        As far as the hatred you see for anything non iPad, get over yourselfApartrt from the all out Apple fanboys who are far out number by the Apple haters here you don't see hatred for non iPad devices. What you see are defending the iPad against FUD, huge difference.
  • As long as they don't have patent pending beveled rounded corners?

    Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate!
  • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

    Honeycomb is innovative enough and prices vary but I doubt that is the issue...

    The real issue is poor marketing! People know the iPad because they know Apple and thus Apple gets free marketing from every major news source when they hit the market with a new product.

    If Motorola could create a campaign like they did with the Original Droid they would be able to challenge the iPad.

    I know most here listened to the poor reviews many bloggers made about the XOOM and there were a number of inaccuracies in them. However, with 3.2 even the issues with the flakey apps is now completely gone and he Tablet performs as many or more tasks as the iPad and many of the things it does look better (HD Video on the Tablet).

    In short, if these things were marketed better people would know what they were.
    • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

      @Peter Perry Honeycomb.. Ha ha! Thanks for the laugh... That half baked, good for nothing OS... sure.. innovative to send companies depending on it to DOOM
      • Go on.... what do you know about Honeycomb 3.2?

        @browser. <br><br>Some of us are using 3.2, and also have ipads. They are different beasts but like I keep saying. I'm looking at my Asus ransformer with a keyboard and track pad i can pop off. I have SD, uSD, USB, and HDMI out. Why would I want to use my ipad for viewing films etc? I wouldn't and some of you need to open your minds. Be a sheep by all means; sound like an idiot by all means; but do try to look at the other options before talking complete rubbish.
      • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

        Agree (own both).
        The slots and keyboard dock is what makes the Transformer work very well for me.
    • The real issue is poor marketing!

      @Peter Perry: Not really. Not when the Xoom has gone backwards in sales to the point that more are being returned than sold this past month. I won't argue that the hardware was good, though maybe a little questionable in design, but based on even recent reviews Android 3.2 still doesn't have the 'finish' needed to compete on a par with the iPad. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 may have that 'finish' since their front end seems to be a little cleaner and easier to use, but apparently the 'style' and 'look' are too similar to the iPad's for Apple's comfort. Honestly if it looks too much like an iPad, it's quite possible that somebody would buy one of these thinking they were buying an iPad and run complaining to Apple when it didn't work the way they thought it should. It's not like one commenter said about, 'not buying a Galaxy Tab because it looked too much like an Apple,' but rather that they bought it for that reason, taking an Apple sale away from Apple. I've already seen more than one case where someone took their phone to an Apple store for service and the "genius" had to turn them down because it wasn't an Apple phone, even though it looked something like one.

      No, the real issue is poor R&D where they have to shove something out the door quickly to compete with a first-in-class device and failing miserably. Apple spent 8 years on the design of the iPad of which the iPhone was a kind of prototype concept. Now these other companies have to compete in less than a quarter of that time and it's almost guaranteed that quality of OS and hardware are going to fall short of that initial goal. I expect real competition to start arriving within the next 6 months, but unfortunately it's going to be cheap knock-offs rather than truly competitive devices. The good Android tablets won't be able to undercut Apple's prices by more than a tiny fraction.
    • RE: Are cheaper tablets the answer to the iPad's dominance?

      @Peter Perry Marketing only gets you so far. I don't think that anybody will deny that Apple is great at marketing their products but it isn't like the others don't market theirs. I saw the Xoom mentioned on all the major networks when it was released and from that point through today I have seen more TV ads for the Xoom than the iPad. Same goes for the Touchpad, see more ads for it than the iPad. Of course most media compares these new devices to the iPad which gets them more marketing but if they were better that marketing would go to the new device, not the iPad. I am not saying that none of the new devices are as good or better than the iPad but on initial release they weren't ready to go head to head. Maybe that's the real problem, each direct competitor to the iPad (at least from the big boys) was released a little earlier than they should have been. If they have waited until they were truly ready maybe the media comparisons would have gone in their favor and they would have fair better in the market. Of course that has nothing to do with marketing, that has to do with releasing a finished product.
  • In fact to avoid future litigation, Tablet manufacturers

    would be wise to design Tablets in different shapes--avoiding square or rectangle-esque appearance--that might be safest given the spate of patent law suits going around.

    Still, I am afraid we are all doomed if it's true that MS have a patent on 0's and 1's.

    It's not looking good lately for any kind of intent on being innovative.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate!
    • It's actually simple.....

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate! IF you are using something someone else invented then pay the licensing fee not big. If you feel the fee is too much or not good for you're business then invent an alternative method to the same result. End of story.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Ah thanks James, you've cleared things up.

        @James Quinn <br>Not really. <br><br>Seriously James, it's not as cut and dried as you put it.<br><br>When it comes to Patent Law, nothing is simple, still, I side with the esteemed Donald Knuth on the value of software patents:<br><br>h-t-t-p://<br><br>But, please, talk amongst yourselves...
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate!
      • One more thing

        @James Quinn <br>You chose some interesting words "alternative method to [achieve] the same result".<br><br>In the pending Oracle vs. Google case (to begin in October), Google went to the extent of developing a VM replacement for the Java ME VM that generates byte-code from Java "SE".<br><br>There are no restrictions on the use of Java SE under GPL; it's the MicroEdition which is the focus of this suit and Google have innovated (clean room design) an 'alternative' VM (Dalvik) that renders Java SE byte code. <br><br>Very clever.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate!
      • Well then good on Google for doing that much, but

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate!.... Bad on Google for what seems to be the case on not doing the entire job? Not sure of the details in this case or to be honest any case but IF it is proven in court that Google used anything that legally belongs to Oracle well then there you have it. I suspect that Googles own work the part they did clean room create is not what Google is being sued about but rather than little bit that Oracle still seems to think they own right?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • Surviving Patents that are claimed to be infringed

          @James Quinn


          The interesting part will come when Oracle has to get down to brass tacks and show where, line-by-line Android infringes.
          Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate!