Buyers Will Need to Watch Out for Orphaned Tablets

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-03-09 Print this article Print


The third thing you'll see is nearly constant innovation. Companies will need to offer more to get the attention of consumers. You'll see new features, better construction, better stability, more connections and more apps in respective stores. So far, it sounds like a pretty good deal. 

But there are downsides to such unrestricted growth. There will be many buyers who will find themselves stuck with orphaned tablets when companies find out that you can't just slap together some generic components and expect to break open the tablet market. These companies will soon find themselves out of the tablet business. 

Eventually, perhaps by the end of 2011, the market will sort itself out. The market will segment into tablets for specific markets, such as Fujitsu's secure enterprise tablet or the engineering tablet with the Waco digitizer from Asus. But the biggest segment will be consumer tablets, of which the iPad and soon the iPad 2 are the primary examples. There, the majority of tablet brands will fail to get traction in the marketplace after selling a few thousand devices and will simply fade away. Unfortunately, some big names, such as HP's WebOS tablet, may be among those. 

In short order, the consumer tablet bubble will collapse. While the choices a year from now will be much greater than they are now, they will be nothing like the dozens of tablets that didn't make the cut for whatever reason. The winners, which will probably include Apple, Motorola and Samsung, will be battered, but they'll still be around. But plenty of others won't. 

Ultimately, however, the market will be stronger after the Darwinian selection takes place. We'll see tablets that are fairly priced with features that users really need in form factors that make sense. By the time the iPad 3 arrives in stores, it'll certainly have those features. It will probably be priced no higher than the current iPad, and it might even be a little cheaper. The Motorola Xoom will be cheaper and probably have upgraded features as well. It will also be available without a Verizon contract. 

What this means for tablet buyers is choose carefully and if you think you'd prefer having a tablet from a company that stays in business, then stick with the leaders. You may find that a little more boring, but at least you'll still be able to get tech support next year. 

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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