Talking tech since 2003

Even if you cannot appreciate the technology and innovation that Apple‘s second generation iPad brought to the mobile market, there really is no denying the fact that the device has been incredibly successful in overtaking and dominating that tablet market.  With the second generation product having hit shelves more than two months ago now I think it really speaks for itself that the device is still somewhat of a challenge to acquire even today, with ship dates from the online Apple Store ranging from between one and two weeks. And while the success and popularity of the iPad line definitely heightened with the unveiling and subsequent release of the iPad 2 in early March the fact of the matter is that Apple really had quite a stronghold on the tablet industry from the get-go, breaking ground on a consumer product that had no competition or real alternative at the time.

Unsurprisingly the previously unfathomable success of a consumer-focused tablet product made way for a wide array of competing tablet products that soon swept the retail market, and soon after the release of the first generation Apple iPad the market had become flooded with competitors.  Big names like Vizio, Acer, and Nvidia all got their game faces on and geared up to sink their teeth into the growing mobile industry.  Living up to their promise, there have been a great many non-Apple tablets that have been released in the last few months; many of which sporting Google’s Android mobile operating system.  Recently Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, voiced his opinion on the growing tablet market and why Android-based tablets have yet to be a hit with consumers.

In his discussion with CNET News Huang started out by saying “It’s a point of sales problem. It’s an expertise at retail problem. It’s a marketing problem to consumers. It is a price point problem.”; summarizing a handful of very valid points.

First and foremost I think that it’s important to note that one of the biggest issues that we’re seeing with Android-based tablets right now is that there are simply too many of them out there and the market has become saturated quite quickly.  Much like netbooks were popular a couple of years back, tablets brought a revolutionary (yet not to drastic) change to the ways in which we as consumers were able to communicate and function.  However the competition in the tablet market has become incredibly thick, meaning that it has become challenging for different Android tablets to stand apart from one-another.  Not only does this make it a task for consumers to evaluate and select tablets, but it also makes it all the more difficult for salespeople at electronics stores to sell constantly changing products as well.

This concept isn’t aided in the least with the poor marketing that most tablets have had.  Sure, more popular devices such as the BlackBerry PlayBook, Motorola Xoom, and the Samsung Galaxy Slate have gotten a pretty decent amount of marketing in terms of television commercials and the like, but I really don’t think that the sum of all of the marketing for Android and non-Apple tablets has come anywhere near that of Apple’s marketing for the iPad.  Regardless, there has yet to be a tablet that has gotten the level of free publicity in terms of anticipation and press coverage as Apple’s iPad has.  And in a domino effect the low-level of marketing and media attention definitely doesn’t help to open anyones eyes.

But when it boils down to it, the products and their respective price-points are really the most important component that is ultimately lacking for non-Apple tablets.  After all, if a tablet that blew the iPad 2 out of the water were to hit the market we would surely see it and the product would indeed speak for and sell itself; much like the iPad 2 does now.  That’s just the thing, though.  There isn’t.

Don’t get me wrong; there are tablets out there that give the iPad 2 stiff competition.  But in terms of pricing these competing products have yet to beat the iPad’s pricing structure enough to give consumers a substantial justification to go with what many people see as a second-class product in retrospect to the iPad.  Ironically Apple is known for having higher priced goods – a common attribute to why some look down on Apple’s business – yet has been able to undercut the tablet industry thus far.  And this standing with pricing means that other tablet developers are going to have to either innovate their products significantly in order to gain market traction or cut their prices enough to the point that people elect to us an Android or non-Apple tablet because of price instead of features.

All in all I think Jen-Hsun Huang made some very good points, and after looking at them more thoroughly I can see where the Android tablet industry has room for improvement; something I’m sure we’ll see.

Is it too late, though?  You see, there was a one-year time gap between the debuting and subsequent release of the first generation iPad and the respective release events for the second generation product.  This would have been the ideal timeframe for companies to push their Android-powered tablets, as doing so would have left Apple’s product in the dust for a number of months prior to the iPad 2 release.  But they didn’t.  So a year later, Apple was able to strengthen their existing stronghold on the tablet industry.  Now people are beginning to speculate that the third generation iPad will make its way to the market come September; only a mere six months after the iPad 2 release.  If this is true (it is only speculation as of now), tablet makers have a very limited timeframe to produce and push competing tablets.

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