Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Can tablets compete with the iPad on features?

Can tablets compete with the iPad on features?

Quick: name five different tablets currently on the market. If you didn't quite get to five, don't feel bad. There might be dozens of them available, but only a few have received any mainstream hype. Chances are, though, that if you named more than two, the iPad 2 and the Amazon Kindle Fire were among them. They're two of the best selling tablets on the market, and they've both gotten plenty of attention. Together they represent a major reason why other tablets haven't yet seen much success.

Apple's distinct advantage

An old saying in business is that you have to either be the first or be the best. When Apple released the original iPad in 2010, it got both. It certainly wasn't the first tablet on the market, but it was the first one that people actually wanted. At the time it was undoubtedly the best as well. That gave it a huge head start in the tablet market. By the time the iPad 2 came out there still weren't many serious competitors, and the iPad was still the best tablet on the market.

At this point it's debatable whether the iPad is actually the best tablet on the market. There are other powerful competitors, including the super-powerful Asus Transformer 2. But the performance of the device and it being the best are two different things. The best, in terms of business, is determined by customers. The market is still convinced that the iPad is the best on the market, therefore Apple still has its original advantages. It was first to the market, and by popular consensus it still has the best on the market. That's a tough combination to beat.

Competing on features

Since the iPad 2's smashingly successful debut, a number of competitors have released high-end devices. The Motorola Xoom fell a bit short, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 was supposed to be a tablet that could go toe-to-toe with the iPad. On features it does a good job. But it's tough to sell the public on features. They don't provide a unique selling proposition.

For instance, you could say that a tablet has a faster processor than the iPad. You can say its screen is of a slightly better resolution. You can say it has a dozen components that the iPhone doesn't. In the end, it won't matter with consumers. They want benefits. What are the benefits of these features? The tablet is slightly faster and more efficient than the iPad. That doesn't sound like much, does it? And so people will tend to go with the better known product. Apple wins again.

One problem that is common among iPad competitors: they're priced in line with the iPad. That is, a model with a 16GB hard drive will cost $500. When two products line up side to side for the same price and one is the market leader, the great majority of consumers will pick the market leader even if the competitor has a few more bells and whistles.

Competing on price

Clearly, iPad competitors have to approach the market in a different manner. Any tablet that hopes to cut into the iPad's market share has to meet a few requirements. First, it has to provide many of the same benefits of the iPad. Second, it has to come from a brand nearly as recognizable as Apple, so that Apple doesn't win in name brand alone. Third, it has to cost less than the iPad. Again, it's hard to beat the market leader when competing in the same price range.

Amazon figured this out. They put together a tablet that, while not quite comparable to the iPad, provides many of the same features. Users can still download music and video, stream music and video, read books, and download apps. Amazon is obviously a well-recognized brand, perhaps one of the most recognized in the world. Amazon also had the crucial third step: it priced the Kindle Fire at $200. That's more than 50 percent lower than the iPad, and it gives consumers good reason to consider the alternative.

Amazon isn't the only company to successfully compete with the iPad on price. The PlayBook, BlackBerry's tablet PC, started off competing with the iPad on price. While the PlayBook was a physical specimen, it didn't quite provide the same experience as the iPad. There was little reason for anyone to choose the PlayBook over the iPad. On Black Friday, however, many retailers reduced the PlayBook to $200. It flew off shelves, and many big box retailers, such as Best Buy and Staples, are sold out. Competing on price worked well.

The lesson in all of this: don't try to compete directly with a market leader that was both the first to the market and also has the best product on the market. It will only lead to the competition getting crushed. It took some ingenuity and some losses, but both Amazon and BlackBerry figured out one way to outfox Apple. This might actually lead to some competition in the tablet market.

Joe Pawlikowski is the editor of Prepaid Reviews, a site that provides information, review, and commentary about prepaid wireless services.

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2 comments:

Gadgets NewsLine said...

Will be heavy competition between them, nice review on them

Obat Pembesar Penis said...

Can tablets compete with the iPad on features?... article. Very interesting. This article are of course very useful for every bloggers.

 

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