How can other tablet makers have a chance to fight against iPad domination?


FIG. 1 iPad 2 [top], iPad 1 vs iPad 2 (iPad 2 is thinner) [bottom]

 I think it’s very likely for you to find articles with similar topic like this. I think the reason is simple. People is still wondering why other manufactures can’t come up with a great tablet as iPad.

Spec-wise, iPad is definitely not the most impressive one. Its RAM is merely 512 MB, half of regular Honeycomb tablets. Its screen resolution is also lower. But it still does have what other tablets don’t. Its graphic processing unit (GPU) is definitely top-notch. What I want to say here is the spec of iPad is not the most impressive one nut I can tell you it’s one of the smoothest and responsive tablets I’ve ever tried to use.

So, what other tablets maker need to do with their products so they will be further away from iPad big shadow?

In my opinion, there are several things that made iPad is an iPad. A different class of product, even though the competitors have most what an iPad has.

1. It’s a (put your brand name). Not just another tablet.

Apple never mentioned iPad as tablet. They always call it as iPad. This is one of the important things. They want to make sure their product is a class of its own. It doesn’t have to compete with other tablets to earn the spot as the most wanted tablet. It creates its own class. Amazon has done this with its latest product, Kindle Fire. It mostly referenced by Amazon as Kindle. Not tablet. People with remember Kindle Fire (which is a tablet) as one of the Kindle. A brand that Amazon is famous for. So, other manufactures have to make sure their products have their own class. Their products should be differentiating themselves from other huge amount of competitors’ product, which only have slight differences *cough* Honeycomb tablets *cough*.

FIG. 2 Amazon Kindle Fire. A $199 Kindle Fire.

2. Focus on the experience and the ecosystem. Not the spec.

Of course, it is great to have a tablet who has a quad core processors, multi core GPU, all kind of sensors, amazing screen, etc. But the more important thing is user experience when they use the device. Users always expect and want a trouble-free, familiar, intuitive, responsive experience when they use their gadgets. iPad has the biggest app store. There are huge amount of apps that is made specifically for the iPad. Honeycomb, QNX, WebOS don’t have this kind of advantages. Yes, iPad has a lot of restrictions imposed by Apple but users get a very polished experience. iOS is also one the most responsive and smooth OS compared to other OS. Other manufactures need to polish and tweak their OS to run smoothly and responsively. The manufactures can also make/build partnership with content provider to create a unified ecosystem for their devices and create a unique selling point of their devices. Manufactures should stop relying on their hardware specs to sell their devices. Tablets are not like PC. People are very picky about their user experiences. Honeycomb tablets makers should stop relying on Google and polished the OS themselves. Strip down all unnecessary features. Make a lag-free and unified ecosystem for their devices. Yes, it’s not easy to do this but this is one of the very important key for other tablets to see a success.

FIG. 3 Kindle Fire with Amazon contents. Amazon does have massive contents in their library that can be easily bought by Kindle Fire user.

3. Price it right

Price it right. Seriously, I’m surprised when tablets manufactures ‘dare’ to put a same price tag for the product as the iPad. They must admit that their products are less known, less popular products. How can they put the price for that kind of products same as the ‘king’?. I think Amazon has done a great thing with their Kindle Fire. They made it so cheap, yet offered very decent contents and ecosystem. Other manufactures should also price their devices right to capture the public’s attention. Remember what happen with the Touch Pad. When it was released, it is priced $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only model. It’s the same price as iPad 2. When I heard this, I knew that HP TouchPad is doomed to fail. They use a brand new, less popular and less developed OS, yet they brave enough to compete with the giant. Result? The rest is history. When HP decided to fire sale their TouchPad inventories, people suddenly become excited about TouchPad. They hunted for TouchPad even though they knew HP had decided to abandon WebOS in tablets. So, other manufactures need to re-consider their pricing strategy. You must admit you can’t fight face to face with something as popular as iPad. Don’t think you can knock off and have the same status as iPad in just over night. People don’t know about your products really well and there are a lot of hypes around Apple products. So, you need to give ‘incentives’ to your early adaptors by pricing your devices right.

So, that’s it. It’s my short articles about this topic. I hope someday some tablets manufactures could compete with iPad. I know a lot of people expected Amazon with its Kindle Fire will steal some of iPad market share. I’m sure that Kindle Fire won’t kill iPad but it will eat into other tablets manufactures. Let’s hope other tablets manufactures learn their (big) mistakes in the past and create something really capable to face a direct fight with iPad.

FIG. 4
HP Touch Pad. An over-night sensation because the massive price drop.

 Btw, here are some iPad great competitors (in my opinion, definitely) that you might find in the market:

1. Amazon Kindle Fire / Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet

Why: Price point is right. Content rich sources can be easily accessed.

FIG. 5 Amazon Kindle Fire [left] and Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet [right]

2. Asus Eee Pad Transformer

Why: the price is right. It’s cheaper than an iPad but it still have superior hardware for its price. It has a unique and specially designed keyboard dock.

FIG. 6 Asus Eee Pad Transformer. A capable, cheaper-than-competitors, unique Honeycomb tablet. A rare breed. Watch out for the next gen Transformer, Transformer Prime, with quad core Tegra 3 and relatively strategic price point.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Why: a product with great design beside the iPad. A unique custom UI, Touch Wiz UX, that looks great.

FIG. 7
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Yes it is one of the best Honeycomb tablets in the market. TouchWiz UX breath a new colorful and warmer tone of Honeycomb that has a darker tone in its UI.

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