Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

Summary: "Why wasn't the iPad 2 a more impressive upgrade?" This is a question that I've heard a lot since yesterday's iPad 2 announcement. The short answer is that it didn't need to be any better - it's still more than good enough to toast the competition.

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TOPICS: iPad, Mobility
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"Why wasn't the iPad 2 a more impressive upgrade?" This is a question that I've heard a lot since yesterday's iPad 2 announcement. The short answer is that it didn't need to be any better - it's still more than good enough to toast the competition.

The iPad 2 has three main competitors - The Motorola Xoom, the RIM/Blackberry PlayBook and the HP TouchPad, powered by Android 3.0, Blackberry Tablet OS and webOS 3.0 respectively. They all sport a dual-core CPU, all have screens around about the 1024 x 768 region (the Xoom screen is 1280 x 800 while the PlayBook has a 1024 x 600 screen). All have pretty much the same storage capacity options, cameras and connectivity.

So why will the iPad 2 toast the competition?

Well, first off, the iPad is a recognized brand name. More importantly than that, iPad is becomings a generic catch-all term that the public use for tablets (much like iPod became a catch-all for MP3 players). Never underestimate the power of being first and being able to shape the market, and the minds of the buyers. Apple has done this in many ways, defining the price point, size, capacities, and so on.

The iPad is also already on the scene, and has been for almost a year. The Xoom is just out, the TouchPad will be out sometime this summer, same with the PlayBook. These devices were a response to the original iPad, and two won't be out until after the iPad 2 ships. That's just crazy.

Then there's apps. Apple has over 65,000 apps available for the iPad 2, not counting all the iPhone apps that will also run on the tablet. That's a massive supporting ecosystem. How many apps are there available for the Xoom, Touchpad and PlayBook? Well, there's a small handful for Xoom but no developer ecosystem. There are none for the TouchPad or PlayBook, and there's no developer ecosystem worth mentioning either.

So why didn't Apple carry out a major iPad upgrade, adding a hi-res "retina" display, or USB/Thunderbolt port or make the chassis out of some exotic liquid-metal alloy? The answer is quite simple - because it didn't need to have any of these features. There's not enough competition out there to warrant Apple doing anything that puts too much pressure on profit margins. The iPad 2 upgrade, put simply, is good enough.

Unless the competition can get their act together, not only will 2011 be the year of the iPad 2, but 2012 will be the year of the iPad 3.

Topics: iPad, Mobility

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45 comments
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  • Really, its all about the ecosystem after all

    Enough said. Until the other players in the tablet game can expand their app presence substantially, the lowest priced iPad 2 WiFi or 3G version will prove more than sufficient for most consumers irregardless of the impressive specs that the other players can boast about.
    kenosha77a
    • But Apple would still do liquid metal alloy and Retina display right now,..

      @kenosha7777: ... if it could. These are not such easy features like adding cameras, which could be done from very beginning.

      So while current specifications are fully sufficient, Steven Job's wish is always beyond that. For now, these mentioned features are not achievable for mass production.
      DDERSSS
    • Ecosystem may not overcome shortcomings...

      @kenosha7777 The ecosystem is Apple's only advantage right now over a Xoom. The question is whether the ecosystem offsets the big disadvantages of buying an iPad. When consumers try both devices at Best Buy and their favorite Flash-based web sites work perfectly on a Xoom and only display an empty box on an iPad 2, which device will they choose for couch-browsing? If more choose the Xoom, the Xoom ecosystem will blossom as a result, removing the only advantage Apple currently has. The average consumer just wants it to work. The iPad 2 simply doesn't work as well for browsing, thanks to Jobs' shortsighted ban on Flash. The fact that both will be available at retail for comparisons is going to make this abundantly clear to consumers.
      BillDem
      • LOL

        @BillDem

        No here is what the average consumer is going to see. They are going to go into the busy Apple store where there are tables with working iPads for them to play with, already loaded with apps and games and such. If they know about the Xoom at all it will be the current TV commercial where the guy pops open Google maps 3D view. Then they are going to go to Costco where they have a bin with cardboard box cutouts representing the Xoom's that may be purchased but with no working Xoom to be found anywhere and even if there was one it'll be just the OS and no apps, and the thing will cost more. This is EXACTLY what they will find because I have been to Best Buy and Costco. To the average consumer this will be a no-brainer purchase of the iPad.
        oncall
      • there's an app for most of those site..

        @BillDem.. you're simply living in the past.. the preferred way to access online service is now through dedicated, highly platform/system integrated, high performing apps.. "web"/browser based apps are second class citizens on modern mobile devices..

        no one cares.. don't you get it? 15million devices in 9mths.. $9billion.. no one give a rat's behind about Flash..
        doctorSpoc
      • the cliche.. there'

        @BillDem
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

        @BillDem Last time I checked, flash isn't working on the XOOM as of yet. So people won't be seeing the flash on either tablet.
        Geuseppi
      • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

        @BillDem The "average" consumer doesn't care about Flash. They want an iProduct, pretty much.

        Now, the mid- to high-level user, sure. They want Flash, they want HDMI out, they want those sorts of things. But that's not the "average" person.
        clokverkorange
      • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

        @BillDem This flash argument is so old, it now comes with it's own walker. Surfing the web is not the only thing that happens on the device - it's a myopic view that shows the shallowness of the programmers and tech-heads who first brought the point up - and, unfortunately, those who continue to bring it up. I, nor anyone in my family, has missed flash at all. Yes, the consumer just wants the platform to work - and the astounding response by the average consumer has been to make ipad number one with a bullet. Imagination trumps flash at every turn, and Apple and many others have shown that specialized apps for content and html 5 beat the pants off of the generic html experience in a current standard browser.
        vhase
      • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

        @BillDem Assuming that Flash actually shows up on the Xoom, I'd like you to be a fly on the wall when those consumers pull up their favorite Flash games on the Xoom and find out that they don't work as touch apps. The sound you'll hear after that are feet beating a path to the iPad and its dedicated app ecosystem.
        ssaha
  • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

    All tablets are toast as soon as people realize the device is limited. That's why I won't spend $600 on one just to duplicate what I already have.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

      @Loverock Davidson Spoken like...well, frankly, like someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. I suspect you probably will spend money on one, as soon as you realize that it's your ability to see what the tablet is capable of that's limited, not the tablet itself.
      abbub
      • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

        @abbub
        No I'm probably won't buy a tablet. I have a laptop that does everything the tablet can do and more.
        Loverock Davidson
      • i don't need a car..

        @Loverock Davidson.. i have a team of horses and a wagon that can do everything a car could do for me..
        doctorSpoc
      • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

        @doctorSpoc
        Exactly, the horses and wagons will get you to where you need to go. Same can be said for metro cities, just hop the bus or take the subway.
        Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

      @Loverock Davidson The tablet has its niche just like laptops have theirs. I don't know about you, but my Macbook makes a horrible e-reader, for example. It's also kindof hard to slip my laptop in my pocket. No touchscreen makes it kindof awkward in certain situations also.

      Don't get me wrong, I love my MacBook Pro, but my Galaxy is slowly becoming my "on-the-go" device as I find myself using it more and more. It's really great as a calendar, as well. Granted this is nothing that most phones couldn't do, technically, but being able to do it in the larger form factor is actually quite nice.
      clokverkorange
      • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

        @clokverkorange
        I wouldn't see you slipping a tablet in your pocket either unless you got big pockets.
        Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

      @Loverock Davidson Then you're really missing out - since I've added an iPad to the equation, all of my standard tasks (email, general surfing, info lookup, etc.) have moved to the device, while I only go to my MacbookPro for my actual work (I do video and audio work) - It has been a uniquely freeing experience ('limiting' totally misses the mark). In fact, now when I make a short trip - I Use LogMeIn to actually access my laptop on the road - without bringing my laptop. Multiple days of battery life and no longer tied to my desk - It's been amazing.
      vhase
  • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

    Motorola is going to fail and i am glad, because its sad and disgusting that they expect their Xoom to cost $800 retail and $600 with a 2yr contract. They need to drop $200 at least off this thing. And one more thing, can't the Xoom use the google marketplace's already full collection? It would be really stupid and unfortunate to restrict the Xoom to only tablet apps. It's the same OS after all.
    KBot
    • RE: Why the iPad 2 is only a minor upgrade, and why the Xoom/PlayBook/TouchPad are toast

      @KBot The xoom is not restricted to tablet only apps. However, there are a lot of older apps that do not work on it, and some that work but only use a little of the screen. I think the same thing happened when the iPad first came out. It will just take time for the app developers to catch up.

      Check out the screen shot of the market in this review (about half way down). You can see at the top there is a tablet only section, but the other apps are still available.
      http://www.justechn.com/2011/02/24/review-motorola-xoom-wifi-3g-tablet
      ryanmc