The Struggle to Offer Something Different

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-06-01 Print this article Print


5. Don't try to do both notebooks, tablets

The biggest mistake competitors can make in the mobile-computing space is to look at Apple's strategy of offering both a lightweight notebook and tablet and try to follow suit. Unfortunately for the competition, Apple is a special company that can make both product types work. Most other hardware makers can't. To beat Apple, competitors must focus their efforts on one product category or another and set out to beat Cupertino's option. Splitting attention between both product categories is a mistake.

6. It's all about wireless connectivity

A key component in both lightweight notebooks and tablets is mobility. Consumers want to be able to take their respective devices with them wherever they go and connect to the Web. However, Apple's iPad 2 and MacBook Air don't always accommodate that. The iPad 2 comes with a WiFi and 3G option, which is nice, but the MacBook Air is WiFi-only. Moreover, some consumers opt for the WiFi-only iPad 2. To be successful against Apple, offering both 3G and even 4G connectivity is an absolute necessity.

7. Remember the storage

Apple's one Achilles' heel could be storage. The company's iPad 2 comes with just 16GB to 64GB of onboard storage, while the company's MacBook Air comes with between 64GB and 256GB of storage, depending on the version customers choose. That's not enough in today's increasingly video-dependent environment. Competitors should consider making 128GB of onboard storage standard on tablets and 500GB available on lightweight notebooks. It's a cheap addition that should help improve the value proposition against Apple's products.

8. Consider Chromebooks

Although just a few companies have signed on to work with Google, vendors should consider bringing Chromebooks to the marketplace. They might not sell well in the short term. But cloud computing is the future in the OS market. Currently, Apple isn't doing much to capture that space. Even better, Chromebooks offer something different, a measure of uniqueness. This is something that competitors will need to take Apple on. It might be risky, but launching a Chromebook might be a good long-term move.

9. It's about price-to-value, not price alone

Too often, Apple competitors think that the best way to beat Apple is on price. After all, they say, Apple products are so expensive that offering consumers a cheaper alternative should appeal to customers. But as market share figures have shown, that doesn't necessarily work. Apple is popular not because of its price, but because people believe they're getting a good value for the price. They need to feel the same way about competing products. Cheaper tablets or lightweight notebooks are great as long as people see they are getting value for the product no matter what the price is.

10. Consider the enterprise

If there's one thing Apple hasn't done with its iPad and MacBook Air, it's appeal to the enterprise. The company has stayed decidedly consumer-focused in its device plans. But that doesn't mean competitors need to follow suit. A lightweight notebook and tablet would absolutely appeal to enterprise customers, as long as the value proposition is there. If competitors want to beat Apple, perhaps focusing on corporate customers would be a good idea. 

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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