The tablet market. It’s all over – [opinion]


Well,that’s that then.

October 23rd 2012 – The launch of the iPad Mini. Put the date in your diary. The date that any competition in the tablet market officially disappears.

Maybe I’m a little premature in forecasting impending doom for competition within the sector but let’s be honest, with the plethora of tablet specific apps, the already incredibly loyal huge user base and developers that love the platform, Apple all but have it sewn up.

The competition so far can only be classed as weak.

The Nexus 7.  By far the best 7″ tablet launched to date and yet it has been beset by issues ranging from build quality to screen problems to storage problems.  Whilst the range of 10″ Android tablets have come a long way, their impact on the iPad is so negligible they are hardly worth mentioning.

There are so few tablet specific apps for Android produced its almost laughable and even with Google’s recent call to arms to developers is this really going to change?  Heavyweights such as Sky are throwing money around to get decent apps on iOS and brilliant ones on the iPad, yet Android hasn’t even got a proper solution for iPlayer.

Indeed Android owners can only look on in envy as iPad users fire up app after app designed specifically for their tablets.

Without the full support of developers and without a really competitive range of products the Android manufacturers are pretty much out of the race.  So what about the other manufacturers?

Microsoft.  The Surface pricing was revealed today and it can hardly be called cheap.  Whilst broadly in line with the iPad price structure and priced competitively for a premium product, Microsoft are effectively starting in the market from scratch.  Enterprise could well be a key area here however the volumes that will sell  are highly unlikely to trouble Apple’s dominance.  One key selling point for MS is the way that the Surface is likely to tie in to the rest of the Microsoft eco-system.  Is that however enough to make an indent?  I think not.

That leaves Blackberry and the Playbook.  There have been rumours circulating for some time of a Playbook 2 complimented by some leaked photos.  RIM however are preparing for the launch of BB10 along with their new handsets.  The focus of the company is going to be squarely on promoting their new devices, is their really room for a brand new tablet too?

The bottom line is that Microsoft, RIM and Android all suffer from the same problem when trying to compete in the tablet market.   When Apple launched the original iPad there wasn’t a market.  Now years down the line the market is massive, developers have thrown their weight behind iOS on the iPad and produced some simply excellent apps and consumers have bought into it in a big way.

With the launch of the iPad Mini,  Apple will have all bases covered and the software is already in place ready and waiting to be downloaded.  There is no having to wait for developers to create apps, no eco-system building to be done, it’s all already there.

Personally I have a Nexus 7 and I love it to bits but I fear for the competition once the iPad Mini is launched – so much so that I even have the 7″ iPad on my Christmas list!!

Is the iPad Mini a market killer? Are Google doing enough to promote competition in the market?  Will the surface make a dent?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Fancy a reconditioned or graded device?
The making of Microsoft Surface
  • http://www.facebook.com/christhedj Chris Merriman

    The hype surrounding the Surface is huge. But more importantly – it’s a 7″ tablet. From Apple. Samsung won’t take too kindly to that. expect fur to fly :)

  • iPhone Fan

    You might be right Simon, but I hope not. Competition is needed to promote innovation in any industry and with any product. You’re definitely right that Apple have got the ecosystem right and I’ve certainly brought into it along with millions of others. I have the original iPad but this is no longer supported with software updates and is becoming extremely sluggish when compared to the new tablets. I’m looking at getting a new tablet and really like the idea of something a bit smaller as I generally consume media rather than create it and I want something that is smaller to take around with me. I’ve looked at the nexus 7 and I really like it but I’ve been waiting to see if an iPad mini would be released before deciding. What is potentially going to put me off the iPad mini is the reported prices – if the mini is only marginally cheaper than the full size version then I’m not sure I can justify spending the money and would opt for the nexus.

  • iPhone Fan

    I hope there isn’t a stupid battle between the two companies but I wouldn’t blame Samsung if they did. I would however question why they were not going after other 7″ manufacturers including Google/Asus with the nexus 7

  • Anonymous

    That argument is fundamentally flawed in that what MS are offering is a platform and the Surface (the Windows RT version) is just a single example of a machine on the platform. There will be others and they will be almost certainly be cheaper.

    The killer hook for app developers targeting the Windows 8 and Windows RT store apps is that the vast majority of Windows 8 machines will support those apps – which is a huge potential market.

    But also there are going to be devices like the Lenovo ThinkPad 2 that blur the line as those are real PCs – albeit with Atom processors – at around the higher end of tablet prices giving you a single machine, cake and eat it, living room to desk to train to office experience.

    Will the iPad mini make a huge splash? Yes, of course it will – I can carry the nexus 7 in a pocket which I can’t with my (cheap) iPad sized android tablet and won’t be able to with my Surface and that alone makes the form factor attractive – but will that splash broaden the appeal or mean more sales to those who have already bought into the system. Of course the other factor in this space is Amazon – which you’ve ignored and I *almost* forgot – as they don’t aim to profit from their hardware…

    Of interest in all this the 7″ form factor is the one place that Microsoft haven’t gone – there are phones up to 4.8 and tablets from 10.6 but nothing in the middle.

  • Anonymous

    Why not the others? Easy, because this is not about whether one company did something right or wrong with respect to the other its substantially (in the case of Samsung and Apple) about using the legal/court systems for commercial ends to suppress competition.

  • Martin

    This will hit the Nexus 7 hard, I’m betting after the i7 is available sales of the N7 will drop off.
    There will always be a hardcore of us anti-appleites that will be looking for alternatives, if that is enough for the likes of Samsung / Asus / Sony to continue making tablets is another matter.
    I have a Transformer prime, I love it, I use it every day to watch movies / tv shows. It is so easy to get stuff onto it. I take the SD card out, pop it into my laptop, transfer the files, put the sd card back into the Prime and job done. Could never do that with an iPad.
    Sure it isn’t perfect, I get lockups every now and then whilst surfing, sometimes apps just stop working, sometimes I have to turn it off and on again. It doesn’t bother me too much, after all I’m a windows user ;) the ~7″ form factor seems to be a great size, guy next to me on the train was reading a book using a nexus 7, looked perfect, my prime is a bit unwieldy when being used as an ebook reader in portrait mode.
    Pricing will be hugely important for the 7″ tablet, will it have a retina screen? Will it retain the same apsect ratio as its bigger brother? If they change the aspect ratio will that piss off app makers?

  • http://twitter.com/dai_wrexham David Griffiths

    What a stupid, stupid article…….

  • iPhone Fan

    Fair comment, but part of the argument from Apple and Samsung has been that if you don’t defend the design/concept then it becomes a standard that can’t be challenged. If Samsung haven’t defended the design/concept against other manufacturers then I think their case would be weak in a court.

  • Anonymous

    Sure and when the design is unique and/or novel I would agree – but there’s way to much prior art and the tablet form factor is “obvious” not novel. There are *details* they could argue about but not some of the things that they hold up as shining examples of innovation (-: And *of course* they make that argument but why they chose to make the argument in the first place is the basis for the response.

  • Trevor

    I know the rumours of an iPad mini have been around for a while, but Steve Jobs always said there was no market for an Apple iPad at that size. No sooner was he in the ground than pundits resurrect this rumour. If it is launching I’m sure Steve will be spinning in his grave! I’ll laugh if the “mini” references were simply regarding the refreshed Mini desktop devices. ;-)

  • Trevor

    I’m sure MS surface will not be an over-night success or have fans queuing around the block for the first devices (where they have physical stores), but I think business will embrace it as Apple have failed to convince a significant number of their business credentials. Obviously we’ll have to wait for the non-RT devices before we see if business appetite exists for Windows 8 tablets, since RT can’t be joined to domains.

    MS also recently announced that their phone OS will support multiple screen formats/sizes and I don’t think there’s any reason why the Windows 8 OS can’t support smaller form factors. The ecosystem for Windows Modern UI (formerly Metro) doesn’t limit display size to specific resolutions or dimensions, so it’s possible one of MS partner’s could release a 7″ tablet.

    Don’t like that form factor myself. Phones have a big enough screen for mobile entertainment and 10″+ tablets are great for companion devices in the home or at work.

  • Ronnie Whelan

    I’d love an iPad Mini, I’m sure it’s going to be a stunning piece of tech, but I just don’t get on with iOS. It’s not that it’s a bad OS, it’s just that I get on better with Android. For that reason alone I hope the Android tablet market stays buoyant.

    Maybe the added competition will spur manufacturers of Android powered tablets to develop even better devices?

  • http://www.amlr.co.uk/ Shortnwide

    I completely agree with you Simon. To have any hope of competing, Surface needed to be cheaper than the iPad – like £100 cheaper – because its just another tablet at the moment (an expensive one!)
    We’ve seen with Android tablets, and their failure to date, that the apps need to be in place before most people will buy in – just making a tablet isn’t enough.
    The iPad has genuinely distinguished itself from other form factors by getting iPad-specific apps that nothing else has.
    I think people have missed the point by making “just tablets” – they need to actually compete with the iPad itself, which includes its catalogue of apps, especially the exclusives.

  • http://twitter.com/chorgox chorgox mongox

    Dear Simon
    Im not here to mention what is great of apple, i left that for you, From my perspective Apple does not want to get the biggest market share, they comfort themselves to have the portion that spend the most. Since the world is just a little bigger than the US market, I can see easily how Android would cater to them, also the way Google integrate their services have not comparation on the competicion. Now if you can be as blind to don’t see that and dismiss the competence just that a simple “form factor” I rather question you integrity than you intelligence.
    good afternoon.

  • Steve

    Simon goes on a rant every time they a big piece of news he seems to hate everything