Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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April 10, 2011 • Rants and Raves

How to Win the Tablet War Against the iPad? It’s Not Even a Battle, I’m Afraid

Preview

Brandon over on Just Another iPhone Blog has a provocative post up today entitled “How to Win the Tablet War Against the iPad”. The simple answer to the title is: sell a Wi-Fi Samsung Galaxy Tab for just $349.99. That’s a full $150 less than you can get an iPad 2 for. Both have 16 GB of storage. Both are only Wi-Fi enabled. One costs $150 less.

Brandon makes some good arguments about why this is the right strategy. His core point,

So, this is how you win the war. You build a solid device and you sell it at cutthroat prices compared to Apple. The margins may be small, but the market is millions of devices so bulk is the key.

What is particularly striking to me is that much of the article points out the weaknesses of the Galaxy Tab, in its own right and especially when compared to Apple’s latest offering. He writes,

Is the 7 inch Galaxy Tab a great choice for power user types who know the technology they’re buying? No, definitely not. The processor is first-generation iPad speed (still not bad), the screen isn’t as good, battery life is less by three odd hours and it’s not as durable…

Brandon even go so far as to call it “a rusty old sword”, to which I say, “That’s a $349 rusty old sword to you Brandon!” :-)

As is so often the case with Brandon’s posts, the article makes a good and provocative read, but I think it falls down in one major area. In fact, he points to the very issue with his argument toward the beginning. As Brandon points out:

The average buyer that I know doesn’t really understand (or care to) what the differences are [between the iPad and the tab] if the price is right. What drives them is their wallet and a good bit of the Joneses. People want a tablet. They don’t necessarily know why or what they’re going to use it for–they just know the Joneses have one and they have to have one too.

Brandon argues that people only look at price. I’m not sure I’m completely convinced that is the case. In fact I suspect strongly that it is not the case, because it isn’t that “People want a tablet”; rather, it is that “People want an iPad”. Yes, the iPad is a tablet, but in the same way that iPod has become the general use word to describe an MP3 player the word iPad is already moving in the same direction when it comes to tablets. Most people don’t want a tablet… they want an iPad, and any compromise on that is likely going to lead to a horde of consumers who are grateful for a little thing know as a Return Policy.

Don’t get me wrong, the Samsung Galaxy Tablet is a good device, but it’s a good device for people who know exactly what they want to be able to do with their device. There is a reason Judie kept hers and is still using it, even though she also has an iPad and an iPad 2. She knows what she needs to do, and the Tab does many of those things well – and in some cases even better than either iPad.

There is a strong case to be made for the Galaxy Tab, but I don’t think undercutting the iPad by $150 is going to win the war or even put up a good fight in the first battle. It’s going to take something more than that.

Now the huge number of lightly-used WiFi Galaxy Tabs I think we will see for $249… THAT is an entirely different story! 😉

11 Responses to " How to Win the Tablet War Against the iPad? It’s Not Even a Battle, I’m Afraid "

  1. Brandon (aka netsyd) says:

    Great Post Dan!

    “People want an iPad” — Great point. But how many people think they want an iPad but will be happily steered by the sale guy who makes a good case for the much cheaper but still do everything you want Galaxy Tab?

    “There is a reason Judie kept hers and is still using it” – I’m Sold. Buying one tomorrow! :) Speaking of – What exactly does Judie still do with it? I’m genuinely interested in what use she has for that device AND an iPad 2…

    • Dan Cohen says:

      “Steerage”- true, I think plenty of people will be swayed IN THE STORE. The real question is what happens when they get home. You might be right and it is the “still do everything you want Galaxy Tab” plus $150 in your pocket but having used both I’m better plenty of people will have a quick onset of buyer’s remorse and will end up spending the extra $150 AND giving up a bit of delayed gratification to get what they really wanted in the first place.

      I’ll be interested in the numbers six months out!

      • Christopher Gavula says:

        I think that Android has been successul at commodotizing the smartphone market because cheap sells phones and most people dont use all the features anyway. But the tablet market is different. It was practically non existent before Apple made it viable by upscaling mobile apps rather than forcing PC apps down on to it. So “iPad” has become nearly synonymous with what we are now calling a “tablet”.

        So I agree with what you are saying, Dan. I think the overall sellthru on the Galaxy Tab, and other Android Tabs, has been disappointing so far. The mis-steps with Honeycomb (especially the well publicized Xoom problems) aren’t helping. People want an iPad right now – not just a tablet. People who are steered toward Samsung are likely going to be disappointed if they are expecting an iPad-like experience.

        Additionally, Android has excellent features, but still is hugely lacking in the ease and polish departments – especially in the tablet arena (and apps running well on the tablet). Like you, I’m really anxious to see where we are later this year – especially in light of the continued sellouts of iPad 2s. If Google can get Honeycomb and manufacturer hardware issues smoothed out and a large variety of decen apps appear in relatively short order, then we might see Morr traffic.

        Yeah – the “cheap” approach worked with phones because most people don’t need much and Apple didn’t define the segment (but they did make it more accessible to a wider range of people), but tablets – well Android tablets have a bit of an uphill battle there!

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