Everyone knows about the iPad. Initially, the tablet was criticized for being “too big” and for giving consumers what they already had in their iPhones – then charging them more for it. Now, the iPad is a market leader, and many are asking the question: can anyone else hope to keep up?
Since its launch in April of 2010, the iPad has sold over 25 million units, and while the company does not release sales figures by region, there is data to indicate sales of over two million iPads in the United States alone within two months.
Of course, with success comes other companies looking to cash in – most notably those like Android, HP, Samsung and Motorola. All of these companies have now released their own tablet versions in hopes of limiting Apple’s control of the market – but is it working?
In a word; no. According to predictions from research firm Gartner, the iPad and iOS will continue to dominate until at least 2015, and a comScore evaluation of US Web traffic in June of 2011 shows that Apple tablets are responsible for over 97% of all traffic from tablet devices, with Android in second place at a mere 2.7%. All other companies – including HP and RIM – are left with a 0.3% traffic share.
Some of these tablets are showing strong initial sales – for example, the Blackberry Playbook was able to sell 50,000 units on launch day, which outperformed sales of both the Motorola XOOM and Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Playbook also relies heavily on marketing hype around its inclusion of Flash on the tablet, while HP’s Touchpad focuses more on the business applications, including hosted exchange email and HP device syncing that can be done wirelessly with their tablet.
Other tablet sizes are being touted as well, moving away from Apple’s 9.7” rectangular screen. 10.1” wide-screen tablets are now on the market, as are 8.9” versions, 7” options, and a 12” option will likely hit the market soon.
In many respects, all of the tablet manufacturers listed are doing their best to find a niche in the market and corner it. HP is attempting to court business users, Blackberry is going after those who are looking for Flash, and some market from the position that they simply “aren’t Apple”. Right now, however, it is the way Apple delivers its content, not the amount of content included, that matters. Feature parity across devices is strong – most include app stores and the ability to capture video, sync to phones and run hosted tablet email exchange. The way that Apple sets up their devices, the intuitive and “sexy” GUI that the company is known for is, in large part, pushing them in the market.
While over time Apple’s US and worldwide leads will erode as other manufacturers step up and deliver a similar tablet experience, the tablet generation is currently owned, managed and directed by the iPad.