Apple set the stage for the tablet revolution with the iPad, but it was Amazon with the Kindle Fire that made the biggest hit in terms of price - by setting the price bar at $199. With CES just around the corner we're likely to see a whole raft of tablets released. But how will they be priced?
Price was the main reason that Android tablets have, so far, been a failure. While there are undoubtedly other issues (Jason Hiner over on TechRepublic covers the major ones in his postmortem on why Android tablets failed) there's little doubt in my mind that the primary cause of death was price. After all, who was going to put down $500+ or even $800+ for an Android tablet if they could get an iPad for $499? People see the price way before they notice that a 16×9 aspect ratio isn't ideal, or that there are a lack of tablet apps.
Price stands out above all.
So what effect with the Kindle Fire with it's $199 price tag have on Android tablets that we're going to see unveiled at CES?
Here are some of my predictions:
Ultrabooks is where it's going to be at in 2012.
Tablets are a gamble for any maker because they're choosing to go head-to-head with Apple. My guess is that makers are going to play it conservatively in 2012 (there's a lot of money to be lost in tablets, as companies like RIM have discovered).
$199 is without a doubt the price point for 7-inch consumer tablets. 9/9.7-inch tablets have more wriggle room, maybe up to the price of the iPad (but they must have some tangible unique selling point to differentiate them from the iPad).
Enterprise tablets have even more wriggle room in terms of price. Not a lot (again, RIM's PlayBook is a cautionary tale).
There's no room for a $600+ tablet. If you see this as the entry level price, it's doomed.
Don't get too excited about stuff announced at CES ... things announced are subject to change and there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip possible.
So, are tablets that cost more than $199 doomed? No. It has to be remembered that the Kindle Fire is a 7-inch tablet, and as such a different animal to the 9/10-inch tablets. The ceiling here is the price set by the iPad - $499. However, a tablet going up against the iPad at $499 better have some special sauce if it wants to have a chance of surviving.