iPads Market Share Cant Stand Up to a Tidal Wave of Rivals

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-01-19 Print this article Print


5. Accessories galore

One of the biggest issues with Apple's iPad is that it requires the purchase of several accessories in order to get the most out of the device. If users want to use a physical keyboard, they need to buy an accessory. If they want to connect a USB device to the tablet, they need an accessory. Meanwhile, other tablets will soon have a USB port included, making them more readily useful than the iPad. Of course, Apple might offer a USB port in the iPad 2, but until that happens, the need for so many accessories to get the most out of the iPad is a problem that competitors can capitalize on.

6. The iPad 2 will be an incremental update

When it comes to new products, Apple usually follows the same plan: It unveils a hot new product with some limitations, uses the next couple years to deliver more features and then offers up a dramatic update the year after that. If Apple follows that same strategy with the iPad-and most rumors surrounding the device suggest it will-the iPad 2 will be an incremental update over its predecessor. For those hoping for a slightly more appealing iPad, that's a good thing. But considering how many companies are pushing the envelope on design, most notably Notion Ink with its Adam tablet, it could come back to haunt Steve Jobs and Company.

7. The Xoom could change everything

The Motorola Xoom was widely considered one of the best tablets on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The device features an outstanding design, a 10.1-inch display, Android 3.0, and both front- and rear-facing cameras. The tablet, which is expected to ship this year, could be the best competitor yet to Apple's iPad. It's quite possible that the Xoom will prove to consumers that the iPad isn't the only attractive tablet on the market, and steal significant market share from Apple's device.

8. There are more-capable devices coming

When it comes to Apple's iPad, there are some severe limitations. For one, the device lacks cameras. It also doesn't come with support for Flash, which means the browsing experience isn't as great as it could be. Moreover, the device doesn't allow for direct 3G connections to Verizon's network-users need to have the MiFi 2200 hot spot to connect to the carrier's service. Other devices, including the aforementioned Motorola Xoom and Notion Ink's Adam, don't suffer from those problems. Once consumers get their hands on them, they'll quickly find that Apple's iPad is lacking.

9. An iPhone-like scenario could play out

It's quite possible that the iPad will turn out like the iPhone. Apple's smartphone continues to sell exceptionally well and appeal to consumers and enterprise customers alike. But Apple's iOS platform is being outpaced by Google's Android operating system, thanks to the sheer number of devices it's available on. It's also not helping Apple that some products, like the Motorola Droid X and HTC Droid Incredible, continue to appeal to customers. The iPad might turn out like the iPhone. It will still sell quite well and lead other devices in overall sales, but Apple itself will lose OS market share to Google. In the process, Apple's importance to the tablet space will diminish.

10. Time is on their side

If the tablet market is anything, it's a long-term game. Now that Apple has validated the tablet market with the iPad, the devices are going to be a part of consumers' and enterprise customers' lives for a long time. With this in mind, it's important to remember that ultimate success in the tablet space will be judged over the long term. Apple is undoubtedly dominating in the short term, but it's a single company going up against dozens of firms that have a multitude of devices in the wings. Over the long term, it simply might be impossible for Apple to maintain its lead. Time is on the side of Apple's competitors.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, 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 http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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