Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

Summary: The tablet wars are heating up: RIM is halving sales forecasts of its PlayBook tablet, as Amazon is readying its Android tablet to shake up the tablet segment. Meanwhile Apple keeps selling iPads like crazy.

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The tablet space is the most active in the mobile world with just about every company trying to cash in on the iPad success. BlackBerry producer RIM has been beleaguered lately over poor performance and was hoping its PlayBook tablet would turn things around, but a report indicates that is not the case. Meanwhile Amazon is rumored to be readying its own tablet for market, which has industry watchers ready to scrutinize its first entry into the tablet market. Android tablet makers are vying for sales to compete not only with the iPad but with each other for a piece of the slim pie. While Android tablet makers jostle for sales, Apple just keeps selling iPads like hotcakes.

Digitimes is reporting that RIM has halved its internal sales projections for the PlayBook based on sales lower than expected of the tablet. The company originally forecast sales of 2.4 million PlayBooks for the quarter based on initial day sales of around 50,000 units. Sales immediately dropped off after that and RIM is now reported to be internally forecasting less than half the sales for the quarter. The company is hoping that the release of 3G/4G PlayBook models next quarter will kick-start sales.

Amazon is widely thought to be readying its own tablet to bring to the increasingly crowded Android tablet market. Larry Dignan is reporting that suppliers are expecting a late summer/ early fall release of the tablet that Amazon will be bringing to market. The company has been carefully putting an entire content ecosystem in place, and an Amazon tablet would be designed to leverage that to best advantage. This would not only compete with the dominant iPad, but would be firm competition for the crowded Android tablet market. The Amazon tablet would be in a position to take a good piece of the admittedly slim Android tablet pie.

While all of the Android tablet makers are fighting for slim sales, Apple keeps selling iPads like there is no competition in the market. The company is expected to sell 8 - 10 million iPads this quarter, with no slowing down in sight. Apple's continuing sales numbers dwarf all of the competition combined by such a large margin one can't help but wonder if there is even a market for tablets that are not iPads.

Image credit: Flickr user Tsahi Levent-Levi

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Topics: Laptops, Amazon, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, BlackBerry, Tablets

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24 comments
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  • RE: Tablet wars ...

    Good Apple cheerleader work James. Did you find someone else to get Kindle in its iPad lately?
    nomorebs
    • Maybe next year

      Android cheerleaders are increasingly sounding like Cubs fans. We understand that you'd like to win, we even understand that it's your turn. But as the game results trickle in and reality intrudes on your dream, you just don't want to give it up.

      It's just a fact that one iPad competitor after another has had to cut production in the face of disappointing sales. Wishing that away doesn't help.. It'll still be there when you wake up.
      Robert Hahn
      • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

        @Robert Hahn I have news for you, the ipad isn't blowing off store shelves either! I am seeing them everywhere now in Tampa and people aren't buying. Hell, they are now selling used for less than Retail so the glamour has worn off.

        Now if you want to blame the area, let me say there is a lot of old money here.
        slickjim
      • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

        @Robert Hahn Oh and I also see several offers of people wanting to trade them for XOOMs or Transformers so I would say the picture isn't as pretty as either you or ZDNET paint it.
        slickjim
      • Tampa Devil Pads

        Peter, "anecdote" is not the singular of "data". The people who write these research reports call all around the world, talk to store managers, buyers, and retail executives. The results are probability distributions which you may or may not see in your sample set. Regardless of what you find in your neighborhood, the existence of two morons does not negate the fact that the average IQ is 100.
        Robert Hahn
      • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

        @Peter Perry

        Could you please point me to a store selling a new iPad for less than retail? I'd like to get one for my mother.
        msalzberg
      • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

        @Peter Perry
        "I have news for you, the ipad isn't blowing off store shelves either!"
        They have been, and continue to be: you can't walk into a store and buy one, because demand is *still* greatly outstripping supply, as is obvious in the Apple Online Store citing 1-2 week ship times. Each new Android tablet maker entering the market ends up competing with all the other Android table makers, rather than with Apple.
        Quidproquorum
    • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

      @nomorebs It is James so you have to cut the Apple Projections in half and completely throw out his stats on Android Tablets then you will get a better idea of what to expect.
      slickjim
      • I am biased?

        @Peter Perry You amuse me so much. :) I own several Android tablets, no iPad. I own an Android phone, no iPhone. Yet I am biased against my preferred platform because I refuse to adopt your conspiracy mentality and deny that iPads are selling massively more than the Android competition, which I personally prefer and spend my own money on. Total amusement, thanks for making me smile yet again.
        JamesKendrick
      • And I would prefer Apple's 'integrated' approach, but still I am able to ..

        @JamesKendrick: ... doubt that Apple will sell more than 8 million iPads this quarter.<br><br>On 6th June Apple said sold 6+ million iPads this quarter -- this took more than nine weeks (Jobs said total iPad sales were 25+ million, and we know that by the end of previous quarter the count was at 19+ million level).<br><br>However, since Apple's financial quarter ends on the last day of calendar quarter, but like about 26-27's day, they have only three weeks between 6th June and 27th June for sales.<br><br>Since June is usually not the hottest sales month, accurate sales prognosis for the whole financial quarter will be 7+ or 8+ million -- unless there is some significant backlogged demand that would be much higher than eight million units per quarter.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

        @Peter Perry You know, you just sound like a whiny little "B" that did get her cookie. You hate Apple and the iPad, we all got it many many posts ago. Of course just because you don't want to hear it doesn't mean that the facts change. Unlike you I don't think an less of somebody due to their OS of choice but I do have a very low opinion of you simply due to your pathetic hater posts.
        non-biased
  • It ain't over until the horizontally challenged female vocalizes

    It's obvious that Apple rules the tablet sector at the moment, and <i>any fule kno that</i> - but to talk of the 'slim android sector' implies that this must always be the case.<br><br>I disagree; Android manufacturers' error has been an utter failure to understand that price matters in the non-Apple market; perhaps all the entrants so far thought someone else would carry the loss?<br><br>I don't know. But in Android terms, the market is still very young, and just one market-savvy entrant could change things overnight. My guess would be Amazon, who have a massive marketing advantage, but my hope is that there may be other intelligent Android manufacturers out there, too.<br><br>RIM, bless 'em, are already blighted (probably fatally) by the changes in the mobile phone market, so they won't change the world. And neither will M$, even if they to throw billions at the sector - even if they buy Nokia outright. But it's waaaay too early to write off Android as no more than a niche player.

    I do have a precedent to support my argument; iPhone and the smartphone market. Best not forgotten ;)
    Heenan73
    • Tablet wars? I'd say war of the clueless manufacturers!

      @Heenan73 (and others) At least someone talking some sense with no famnboi bias (either side). I couldn't agree more.

      The manufacturers should wake up and understand that pricing the same as an iPad won't cut it. Apple has created a successful ecosystem supported by strong marketing campaigns and a loyal user base (and if one loves them or hates them it's completely irrelevant), who will fend off for free any attack to their beloved electronic devices as if they were paid to do so. What more proof are manufacturer waiting for to wake up???
      They should understand that:

      1) Selling at the same price point of an iPad or slightly less is a loosing proposition. If manufacturers can't figure out a way to offer a device even better than the iPad for 50~60% less might as well save themselves the hassle and focus on markets other than Tablet. It's not that since they are all tablets, competitors can be priced the same and expected to sell... that means there is a complete lack of understanding of the current market and its customer base... either that or manufacturers are in complete denial. Look it's real simple: if you can buy a Mercedes/BMW at the same price of a Ford/Chevy which car would you buy? (And notice I am not saying Ferrari, Bugatti or Porche here!)

      2) Competitors' devices have to rock on the hardware side being not just as good as, but better than the iPad hardware because feature parity is no longer enough gain the trust of new customers driving them away from iPads, let alone have iPad owners to switch! That's the price to pay for coming late to the Tablet party... sorry but that's reality,

      3) It's already hard to beat hardware specs since everyone has access to the same building materials from CPUs to LCDs etc. Therefore manufacturers will really need to go the extra mile thinking through features like long battery life, powerful computing power... you name it,

      4) The OS must be as powerful and as stable as iOS. Dancing around releasing immature betas as if they were ready for prime time is not an option... see the problems that damaged even further the perception of Android with failed releases like 2.3 which soon became a 3.0 that even then didn't deliver what the market expected. Again stability of the OS would not be enough. The OS will have to offer simplicity and power as well as a level of freedom to the user in all areas... especially those where the competition keeps a tight leash in defense of its ecosystem

      5) Manufacturers should join forces to create a single ecosystem where everyone has the same amount of interests at stake. The android and its market is already offering something along those lines, but too often manufacturers (or wireless carriers) push their own content and market app and do not ship with the Android Market or limit available content, requiring separate downloads and at times requiring rooting the devices. All this trying to "screw the competition and reach market dominance" is utopian especially when coming back on earth and realizing that there is already Apple to cover the role of market dominator (and here it is totally irrelevant to debate on sales forecast). The behavior that all the players in the iPad competition have adopted will detrimental to all of them and will only help consolidate the iPad as the only tablet customers will go for, while the rest of the products are too busy to battle each others.

      Note: Just consider that the currency of the EU, the Euro, was created to counter balance the strength of the Dollar... not all countries loved and it was not cheap nor painless to be part of it. But in the end that seemed to work for EU and maybe if the manufacturers will put away the "war axe" and start smoking the peace pipe (instead of continuing to smoke crack), at least in this mutually beneficial alliance may let them reap some good results. And this is only one of the options available.

      5) The alliance would not be fruitful if creating content for the devices will not be an easy task part of the success of iOS were the (debatable) "there is an app for that". The more apps offered (often free) the more users were likely to buy into the platform. Therefore it would be pretty much a must to have an easy environment where developer (even lightweight ones) can make apps rapidly and release them to users effortlessly. Adobe AIR and Flash come to mind immediately here to leverage existing knowhow without having to learn how to program for Android, QNX, etc.

      6) The Os has to be even easier than iOS to use. Sure one could be a geek and love all the power android/QNX/Windows/iOS can offer when going under the hood and heavy in configs. But tons of users do not fit that profile. Mostly think very simple use like: I want to listen to music without being bothered with a bunch of options for sync, managing, etc. same goes for any other apps, whether that's SMS, Mail, Web, Taking a picture, a video, watching a movie etc...
      Maybe create profiles customizable for users so that when grandma logs into the device it's all big buttons and one click away, and when the geeky grandson logs in to develop his new game "happy birds" he'll have its own customized super geeky and flexible experience.

      And for those who made it this far, some additional considerations... QNX may be a great OS but unfortunately is yet another experience and UI to learn, another point of division, another internal battle which sees only iOS coming out as a winner. Same goes for Windows Mobile who came late in the game despite many (like myself) had even been delusional enough to write to the PocketPC team suggesting it was time for a different kind of experience... now they started listening, but it's too little too late.

      How many more wrong marketing and development choices do manufacturers thing that the consumers can take? And while they keep failing Apple keeps establishing its role as the only company that knows what they are doing and that eventually deliver!

      For instance RIM made a huge-screen phone instead of making a tablet. 7" really? When the acclaimed standard "Tablet" was shy of 10"? Talking about wrong choices. Develop your own OS... yes that's what consumers needed! A new proprietary OS with different UI, new stuff to learn, and obviously even less apps made for it! Not to mention that will be impossible to bring those apps with us when we change device. At least now when going from and Android device to another users can keep all the apps already bought without needing to reinstall since they are all backed up to their account. But is not only RIM to make mistakes... there have been plenty of Manufacturers (Archos, Motorola, Acer etc. for instance) too many to discuss about.
      Another fatal mistake is to keep crying wolf and RIM did just that in Sept. 2010 promising to ship by EOY, but nothing cames through even months later in 2011. When it finally shipped the tiny 7-incher was priced like an iPad therefore killing it on the spot for anyone willing to even consider it as an alternative.

      Maybe manufacturers should let user decide. Those users who are giving devices other than iPads a try may love the device but not the OS? Then why not let them run whatever OS they feel is the best for them? That would mean allowing them multi-boot and separating machine from OS as it's always been in the PC world. Manufacturers have many option and I think time is running out for acting on them... the alternative is either do something sensible or try to still keep pushing blindly their own hardware and OS choice to eventually perish to iOS dominance.

      If what has happened so far is not enough of a motivation to take bold steps such as forming an alliance, I really don't know what would. There is only so much that people will take and even the most hard core non-Apple fanboi will have to come to terms with that, if they want something that works and keeps being supported... sorry if you thought 1984 Apple's ad was all about freedom, it actually was a prediction of the future of the company. ;)

      Concluding this long winded post a short note to James: why the heck did you even reply to the "you are biased" post? Geez man, with your work if you start to reply to all who disagree with you or attack you saying you are this and you are that, we would end up reading only posts where you rehash that you are not this or that. Listen, who cares! You write what you write and if people disagree they have the right to their opinion which takes nothing away from your articles and matters not if you are right or wrong. Time will tell. You should not feel you have to justify your position like as if you were being bullied by some kids in kindergarten. Let them think what they want and to H with them ;P I'd love if all posts were like that of Heenan rather than being fanbois flaming wars.... that is what drove me off from reading threads which I do only sporadically, like in this case.

      Well don't blame me for the lengthy post... blame it on the mistakes of the manufacturers and the relentless nonsense talk of fanbois of all sides! You provoked this logorrhea! ;D

      Cheers!

      PS: sorry for any grammatical "horrors". I am not a paid editor so I did not spell check and review the massive post ;)
      freakqnc
      • Whew! Long comment and well thought out.

        @freakqnc: I would like to rebut at least one part of your statement, though.
        <B>1) Selling at the same price point of an iPad or slightly less is a loosing proposition.</b>
        When you consider the relative success of the Android smartphones, I could agree with you whole-heartedly. However, as we have seen in almost every other industry and even in the computer industry, it's the average price of all similar products that sets the mark. You look in the automotive field and it's not the cheapest products that sell, but the ones that at least give the perception of value for the money. Ford's Mustang, Chevrolet's Camaro and Dodge's Challenger all offer similar cars for similar prices, but for whatever reason the Chevy Camaro is now selling more than the Mustang despite the Mustang having a 4-year head start in that particular segment and claiming superior technologies. If you look at vehicles in general, the mid-to large-size SUVs and pickup trucks are still dominating the general consumer market despite smaller, more fuel-efficient cars selling for thousands less. Price alone simply isn't a factor.

        The problem with the Android tablets at the moment isn't that they're any less in quality over the iPad or even less in performance--their specs are equal or superior to the iPad's. Rather, the OS itself is simply not yet competitive compared to how Android is performing on phones. Google themselves have stated more than once that Android was never intended for a larger form factor and it shows; though remarkably the phone versions of Android seem to work better on the tablet-sized devices than the up-scaled 3.x tablet versions are. Google really intended for Chrome to be their tablet OS and they'd be foolish to divert away from that thought. That said, they're taking too long to make a version available to the OEMs and as such Google alone is crippling the non-Apple tablet market. I'm not including Microsoft in that statement because they're making their own mistakes.

        <b>2) Competitors' devices have to rock on the hardware side being not just as good as, but better than the iPad hardware...</b>
        I already touched on this point in #1 but in case you missed it, the OEMs really are trying in most cases. I've listened to the Androfans and agree that most of the competition's specs are better in many ways. Guess where that leaves the fault. Sorry, I don't see any no-fault insurance helping Google right now.

        <b>4) The OS must be as powerful and as stable as iOS.</b>
        Here is your most critical point and one with which I agree fully. Android, WP7 and Rim's OS are falling short in this area. #1 above explains why for Android.
        I'll admit I haven't seen WP7 in operation but when I hear reports of retailers effectively hiding what few WP7 devices they get, I have to wonder why. Another commenter's mention of Windows Mobile 7 may be the telling point, since WinMob has a very poor reputation. In this case, Microsoft's mobile reputation may be the only thing killing WP7 and if so, their partnership with Nokia is going to be strained from the beginning.
        Worse, RIM's Playbook started out crippled by nearly every measure--relying far too strongly on its already-dying smart phone technology to support their under-equipped tablet. As we've heard from Android proponents especially, a stand-alone capability is critical for this market and even Apple has recognized that as evidenced by their announcements of iOS 5 upgrades.

        <b>5) The alliance would not be fruitful...</b>
        As an alliance, these companies should be working together rather than separately. Their internal competition is killing their collective capability and subsequently killing their individual successes. On one factor alone Apple has managed to make things difficult for them as Apple has become the #1 component buyer in the market. If the alliance were to band together and buy components as a group they could potentially overwhelm Apple's purchase numbers and possibly get the components they need at a lower cost than even Apple is paying. If they're trying to fight a war on a competitive footing, they need to overwhelm the manufacturing capability of their opponent; internecine fighting simply divides the alliance and leaves them open for conquering by Apple. They worked together to some extent with smart phones to start with, but obviously they're not doing as well with tablets.

        You could have combined some of your arguments, #4 and #6 tie together very well for instance, but in toto you've made a very effective argument that I hope I've clarified and enhanced upon. I know I'm considered an Apple fanboi by many of the commenters on these ZDnet blogs, but my support of Apple is through personal experience and a usually open-minded view of competing products available. As yet, I haven't been significantly wrong with any of my predictions about the direction the market is heading, though I will admit to surprise that Android, despite its faults, progressed faster than I expected in the smart phone market. As the author pointed out however, if they don't get their act together, the Android alliance could well end up fracturing Android to the point that there's no coherency at all and Google will end up abandoning the concept entirely.
        Vulpinemac
  • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon

    "...one cant help but wonder if there is even a market for tablets that are not iPads."<br><br>To answer your question. Yes there is. But the better question would be who? And, yes, I have an answer there too. Who are the best competitors to the iPhone? Those that offer a richer/comparable UI at a lower price. <br><br>As of right now, the cost to produce a tablet out weighs any possibility of a richer/comparable UI on a tablet at a cost that would attract those looking to buy a tablet but not willing to pay Apple's price. <br><br>Oh well, maybe China can take that into account and offer a large manufacturer better rates than Apple is getting. Then we might see some competition.
    mdenson50@...
    • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

      Anyone who could "offer better rates" than Apple is getting would go after Apple's business. Why would they go after anyone else's? If you have that kind of an advantage, you go after the biggest piece of business.

      As you apparently do not know, Apple is already using what is widely believed to be the lowest-cost manufacturer in China, the same firm that also manufactures for HP, Acer, Asus, Dell, Cisco, Vizio, etc.

      Yes, there are cheaper ones out there, but no one who cares about their reputation is going to end up paying less than Apple.
      Robert Hahn
      • What you're saying is...

        @Robert Hahn: ... that anyone who can produce components cheaper than what Apple is buying is likely producing cheaper quality components--guaranteed to fail more quickly or fall out of spec more frequently than those Apple is currently purchasing. It's not just the assembly of the devices that's important, it's the quality of the components themselves that has Apple setting the lead, though as I comment above, the quality of the hardware alone is not enough.

        Yes, Foxconn is the assembler of choice for all those brands, but it's also becoming the single largest point of failure for them as well. A major incident that would shut down that plant or some political issue that could freeze import/exports could disrupt world-wide computer markets. Guys, I personally hope that every one of these electronics companies has a back-up plan in place if something like that happens.
        Vulpinemac
  • Apple should not rest on its laurels

    HTC has not fully eneterd the market and from all indications has a superior product (for business use in particular) on the way. This is not done by a long shot. Competition is great, what do you think James?
    mybyte
    • It's obvious that Apple isn't resting

      @mybyte: It may look like Apple's playing things close to its vest and quite honestly they are; that doesn't mean they're resting on their laurels the way Microsoft did. Step back from the picture a bit. Stop looking at just the tablet and look at the overall scheme that Apple seems to be working. I think you're going to see Apple make a huge paradigm shift in computing as we know it and it's going to happen in this decade. Everybody else has been trying to compete with Apple on a product-by-product basis without seeing how they each integrate with the other.

      That's the problem with HTC, Samsung, Microsoft and everybody else--they're so focused on the details that they've totally overlooked Apple's real project. Each one of them is making a smart phone to compete with the iPhone. Each one of them is making or working on a tablet to compete with the iPad. They've all pretty much given up on making an mp3 player to compete with the iPod. At best, they're making incremental improvements to their computers to compete with Apple's machines. In most cases, their hardware is equal to or superior to Apple's. But, how well do their devices interact with the other devices in their showroom? How well do their tablets work with their phones? How well do their phones work with their desktops? How well to they turn these individual devices into an overall work system? <i>They Don't!</i>

      Look at Apple's devices. The iPod works almost seamlessly with OS X through iTunes. It works almost as well in Windows through iTunes but because of the differences in the core kernels, most Windows users claim that iTunes is an inhibitory factor, not a unifying one. What about the iPhone? Again, it's an almost seamless package that incorporates iPod functionality with a smart phone. The iPad? Incorporates everything but the phone into a uniquely usable form factor that as yet is uncontested in popularity or capability. All of these tie to OS X at their cores and with iOS 5 could come that much closer to being a fully integrated package that completely blows away the competitors for functionality. The AppleTV is nothing but an iPod on steroids bringing all that capability to the big screen through AirPlay. Microsoft's single-track mentality and Android's splintered, no-one-direction approach has blinded them to the coherent package that Apple has been aiming at for the last decade and more.

      No, Apple's not resting. They're creating the next paradigm and it doesn't look good for the competition.
      Vulpinemac
  • RE: Tablet wars: RIM lowers PlayBook estimates, Amazon readies tablet, iPad rolls on

    There is a market for other than iPad tablets - growing perhaps not as quickly as the iPad, but growing. Amazon will likely help the growth.

    Mobile Security check out 2x mobiledevicemanager
    http://www.2x.com/mobiledevicemanager
    and on the Android Market
    virthddman