Coming off a Google junket featuring the Moto Xoom and "Honeycomb," one analyst warns that iPad-style success is about more than hardware and software.
Android-running tablets preparing to join the
market that Apple created, and now dominates, with its iPad are looking
"ready for prime time," DisplaySearch senior analyst Richard Shim wrote
in a Feb. 4 research note.
note followed a Google "Honeycomb" event Feb. 2 during which attendees
were able to use Google's tablet-optimized Android 3.0, known as
Honeycomb, on the Motorola Xoom tablet. The experience of using Android
on a large screen, said Shim, enables a "greater graphical usage
experience and more opportunity for media-based multitasking."
a number of iPad competitors now set to launch from the industry's
biggest players - among them Research In Motion, Motorola and
PC-market-leader Hewlett-Packard - the remaining question, said Shim, is
how the tablets should be sold.
"This will be an essential element in the ultimate success of Android tablets," wrote Shim.
the point, Shim offers the example of netbooks, which in the end the
carriers weren't great at selling, and which saw high rates of return.
Part of the problem was technical support, with customers unsure of
whether to contact the carrier, the device maker or even the operating
[the answer is] the carrier, there are questions around how well
equipped they are to solve the problem," wrote Shim. "Carrier tech
support is essentially trained to tell the user to turn off the device
and turn it back on as a fix." There's also the issue of users buying
WiFi-only versions, to pass on the expense of a carrier contract.
is a tablet more a PC than a smartphone? (The original Dell Streak,
with its too-big-to-be-a-phone, too-small-to-be a tablet 5-inch display,
was a perfect example of a device that was tugged in both directions
but a perfect fit for neither.) If so, says Shim, consider the big PC
brands, such as Dell, HP and Acer, that have "tried to create and sell
smartphones [but] already failed." The retail channels where PCs are
sold, he explains, are a poor fit for smartphones, as they generally
don't receive any ongoing revenue from smartphones' voice and data
its Nexus One, tried still a new tack, selling the device directly,
instead of through its carrier partner, T-Mobile - which, notoriously,
was a disaster.
That tablets aren't a neat fit for any specific channel makes the decision of how best to sell them problematic.
have already started to see some of this tablet channel confusion with
the Samsung Galaxy Tab," said Shim. "The company said it had shipped
around 2 million tablets since the product's introduction in November,
but actual sell-through seems to be less brisk."
one company that all of this apparently isn't an issue for, is Apple,
states the note. Copying the success of the iPad, it turns out, will
take more than just cool hardware and tablet-optimized software.
iPad is selling well in retail - its own retail - but no one else is
replicating the Apple store experience," wrote Shim. "If others are to
come close to Apple's success, they will have to create a compelling
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.