As the first economic quarter winds up for 2011, we will be barraged with numbers about economic growth, unemployment figures, the rising price of gasoline… Many of those numbers will be too low, or too high, for most of our liking. But in today’s tech posting, we wanted to catch up with the numbers in the growing tablet market. The 500-pound gorilla in the room is Apple’s iPad 2 (or are you holding out for iPad 3?).reports that the iPad made up a whopping 74% of the tablet market this past quarter.
Such a number is stunning by any standard – including the standard set by Apple in the last quarter of 2010, when the iPad made up 95% percent of the market. Yep, Apple has lost 20% of the market. Will this trend continue?
Certainly we can expect both new players like Research in Motion’s ‘PlayBook‘ (from the people who brought us the Blackberry), coming out quite soon; and improved products like Samsung’s ‘Galaxy‘ and HP’s ‘ .’ But will they catch up?
Apple’s design pedigree is unrivaled in the tech world, and the iPad reflects that bloodline. Thein Apple’s history in that it jumped the competition. Apple’s modus operandi for smaller devices like the iPod was to let the mp3-market participants beat themselves up a bit before Apple stepped in with what it had learned from the fighters. Apple did the same thing with the micro-laptop, the MacBook Air.
But with the iPad, Apple almost single-handedly got the market defined and moving. So everyone wants to get a bit of the market with Apple already dominant. The first best way to take the shine off the iPad is to copy its look and feel, something Samsung is nowover – a strategy that has proven stunningly unsuccessful for others who have taken on Apple in patent litigation.
For the tech-geekier of us, the issue seems to be one of operating system and operating ease over trendy design and feel-good factor. In this sphere,that ‘open-source’ sounds wonderful (Think: Google Android), but leads to fractured and frustrated user experiences. Apple, instead, is geared toward integration (Think: iOS4 and Snow Leopard), which seems heavy-handed at first blush, but which ensures a clear set of standards for developers and a met set of expectations for users.
The issues of integration and ease-of-use have always been forefront in the minds of Macheads, though PC users could always quickly retort about the high price of buying Apple hardware. But when one is spending a few hundred for a tablet, rather than a couple of thousand for a computer, the entry-price to the market is much more manageable to those who want to give an Apple product a try. As the figures for the last couple of quarters bear out, those very people trying Apple software for the first time on an iPad or iPhone are getting their next computers from Apple as well.
Later this year Sony will enter the tablet market with the S1 and S2 (different screen sizes, with the latter a two-screen clam-shell design. Some believe Sony might have the design moxie to unsettle Apple’s cart of goodies. But is Sony willing to stay in the market if, say, the holiday season, does not bring in the hoped-for revenue? Even 74% is a stunning market share. Who will invest in further R&D and marketing to earn 2-3% of what’s left?