It has been six months since the launch of the Apple iPad, and every time a new tablet is introduced by another company Apple’s dominance of the market gets a little stronger. We are not sure why companies like HP, Sony, and Microsoft are struggling to come up with an answer to Apple’s iPad. OK, that is not entirely true; we know why. Why even BOTHER introducing something if it is just going to strengthen the competition’s position?
Take Kno (above) for instance. This company has what, on the surface, seems like a really cool idea: build a tablet targeted for the billion-dollar textbook market. However, at $899, it is DOA! A folding dual-screen setup will immediately be compared to a laptop, not a tablet, especially in that price range. While it may be an awesome digital textbook, it won’t replace the laptop. Given the current economics, it is just not going to work. The tablet market is going to be all about being thinner, lighter, and cheaper.
The folks who built Nook (above) and the Kindle may have a chance, but they will not be able to move out of their niche markets very easily. This is not because they don’t have a nice piece of hardware, it is because they are not an integrated company with expertise in both software and hardware engineering. Apple is selling their iPads at a healthy margin. They can drop the price of the iPad by 50% (to $250) and still make a profit from AppStore software sales. Apple is also able to add software and hardware features (multi-tasking, camera, etc…) easier and faster then any competitor. As for third-party developers, Apple pretty much has a lock on anyone interested in developing for the tablet market. It will be an incredible challenge to lure them away to work on another platform.
We do hope somebody will step up and challenge Apple’s dominance in the tablet space, not because we want to see Apple fall, but because we don’t want them to get too comfortable. We don’t want them to end up like Sony now, do we?