You would have to be living in a monastery or a convent to not have at least heard of Apple’s iPad tablet device. According a comment made by Apple’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Steve Jobs during a special event held last month, “We sold almost 15 million iPads in 2010, and remember that’s just nine months. That’s from April through December.” During the event Jobs announced the iPad 2, the second generation of the iPad, which went on sale in the United States on March 11.
What you may not know is that the iPad 2 has two major competing tablet devices. One is the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Galaxy Tab was announced last September and went on sale later last year in the United States. Apple’s other competitor is the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom was announced last January and went on sell in the United States in February. In both cases, the iPad 2 competition uses Google’s Android operating system. The iPad 2’s operating system is called iOS.
HP has plans to release their TouchPad tablet this summer with the WebOS operating system. Research In Motion (RIM) also plans to release a tablet called the Blackberry PlayBook running on the BlackBerry Tablet OS. The PlayBook is expected to be on the market soon, with pre-orders already available from Best Buy.
2011 seems to be sizing up as a year of increased competition among tech companies in the tablet market. This competition has led Apple to release the iPad 2 less than a year after the original. One thing that is apparent from Jobs comments is that Apple has the lead with over 90 percent of the tablet market and the competitors are in a game of catch up.
In laying the ground work for large sales, Apple made some good moves. Any tablet must have a wide array of quality applications (apps) to be competitive. The iPad 2 has a clear advantage here with over 65,000 apps deigned to run specifically for it, according to the presentation made by Jobs.
Another advantage that Apple has is that it has large cash capital reserves and established business relationships with its part suppliers, which allow it to order millions of flash memory chips and display screens. This allows Apple to get the best prices for mass buys. This also ties up the market and makes it difficult for other companies to produce units at a similar scale and price because of a lack of available parts.
The recent revision of the iPad responds to what the competition will be selling this year by being on par, or nearly equal, from a technical point of view. The fact that the iPad 2 is not technically superior to the competition is not necessarily a serious problem. Apple’s marketing strategy is so fine tuned at building favor with consumers that any technical insufficiencies will be overcome by the demand that the company so expertly builds for its brands.
When it comes to deciding who will win and who will lose in the growing tablet device market it comes down to one simple test. Which device is the most approachable?
Technically inclined people will look at all the options and buy what fits their needs.
Technically educated people make up a much smaller portion of the buying public than Apple is selling to. Apple sells many millions of their devices because they are easy to use and figure out. It is this understandability that puts Apple’s iPad 2 a step ahead of the competition.