The biggest competitor to the new iPad 2 is one that does not even exist. Strange as it might seem but that is what Sarah Rotman Epps representing Forrester analyst believes. That its only a tablet from Amazon that can pose the real threat to Apple’s domination in the tablet market. This notwithstanding the plethora of new tablet that has either been launched or are awaiting release with each claiming to better the new iPad 2. The entire episode now being played harks back to when the original iPad was released while many a tablet manufacturer thought its just a matter of time they eventually play spoil sport in the great Apple tablet party. However, things are a lot different this time as unlike what it was with iPad, the iPad 2 is up against stiff competition from the bigwigs of the industry such as Motorola, Research in Motion, Hewlett Packard, Samsung, Acer, LG and so on.
However, as Sarah Rotman Epps points out, there are three aspects that nearly all of the iPad 2 competitors have erred in. As a result, we might be witness to a replay of the same iPad success story with the new iPad 2 as well.
Quite understandably, Epps believes its the price factor that iPad 2 rivals underestimate the most. Or perhaps they make the fatal mistake of overestimating on the price factor and price their tablets that end up being beyond what the consumers at large are capable of paying for. Something that a recent Forrestor survey found out, that consumer’s perception of tablet cost is based as much on the Nook Color priced at $249 as it is on the iPad which costs between $499 to $829. Add to this the average consumers’ expectation of what a tablet should cost which has come down to just $257 from $504 between the June 2010 and January 2011 period.
According to Forrester’s survey, distribution too is another area that can determine the success or failure of a tablet. It shouldn’t come as a surprise here that Apple is leading the pack here too. For the iPad is available not only through Apple’s own distribution network comprising of both brick and mortar stores or its online channels but also from popular locations such as Best Buy, Target, and Wal-Mart. These are in addition to the telecom carriers also offering the iPad. The survey revealed the majority of tablet buyers prefer to procure the tablets from a proper electronics shop than from the carriers. Also, the authorized Apple Stores excel here as they are not just into selling the tablets but also serve as an interaction center with trained Apple staff always willing to make consumers comfortable with the new gadget they have bought.
Lastly, the tablet manufacturer’s efforts to differentiate their tablet offerings on the basis of various features such as USB ports, SD card slots, 4G compatibility or HDMI might not after all have the same levels of impact on the consumers as the manufacturers might believe it does. Most of these features are not to be found on the iPad 2 but it might not make much of a difference either for the average consumer. On the contrary, the consumers might be left confused by all these leaving them to opt for something that they believe has worked before and makes for the safest bet. Hence, here too the Apple iPad 2 prevails over its competitors.
So who does Forrester think has the ability to upset the applecart. Epps believes its the HDTV manufacturer Vizio that has a good chance of hitting the sweet spot with its range of Android tablets. Sony is another company that stands a chance of making it really big in the tablet scene. With a considerable presence in the e-reader segment as well as a flourishing partnership with Ericsson in the smartphone arena where Android too comes into the picture, Sony surely can turn out to be a big player here if it can come up with a decent tablet at a decent price.
How does Amazon fit into the picture? Epps believes Amazon excels in the first two points namely price and distribution – areas where the competition is found lacking. Amazon also boasts of huge content to its credit and can make good use of it by selling a tablet at a highly affordable cost and recover much of the cost by selling content. As for distribution, Amazon itself is an online retail giant with a huge dedicated following who prefer Amazon as their destination of choice for buying electronic goods. Another motivation for Amazon to launch a suitable device of its own is the recent in-app purchasing policy that Apple is following and which has introduced some strict regulations on e-book sellers and content providers. Combine this with the fact that Amazon is not into selling the iPad while other retailers have come into the scene. This when Amazon already has the iPod and the Macs in its inventory. So perhaps, there is a tablet like device somewhere in Amazon’s future product’s pipeline, more so after arch rival Barnes & Noble has come up with the Nook Color.
Sovan Mandal is the senior tablet and tech corespondent for goodereader.com. He brings a international approach to news that is not just applicable to the North American market, but also Asia, India, Europe and others. Sovy brings his own writing flavor to the website and is interested in Science Fiction, Technology and Writing. Any questions, send an email