The iPad is expected to lead the tablet market for some time, says a new report, which also notes that Apple's success is due to a culmination of different factors.
The success of the Apple iPad is built on more than its (slick, lovely)
hardware, which portends a long road ahead for Apple competitors racing to
bring media tablets to market, according to a Dec. 28 report from
The report comes as several new tablets are expected at the 2011 CES
(Consumer Electronics Show) from January 6-9 in Las Vegas.
The iPad's popularity is not just based on its sleek design. In fact, the
device is very simple with only one port and few opportunities for accessories,
writes Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch. The Apple iOS and the
applications truly differentiate the iPad.
There is no doubt that the
popularity of the iPad
will rise as its availability increases in more
regions. However, what about competing products?
The competitors most likely to prevail, continues Shim, are those that can
offer not just appealing hardware, but an operating system and software
community around them that can offer a unique experience.
Hewlett-Packard, with its summertime acquisition of Palm, appears to
understand this, and it's in the process, says Shim, of building out a
developer community for WebOS. (So far it has only released WebOS on the Palm
Pre 2, but a slate is on its way. It is rumored
to arrive in March
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, which is poised to launch the
enterprise-friendly BlackBerry PlayBook in early 2011, also seems to get it.
The company recently acquired the user-interface specialists The
and, per Shim, is in talks with Gist, a start-up with a
solution that culls together a user's contacts from all the areas that he or
she interacts with people.
Others, however, are relying on the oh-so-popular Android OS-now the No. 2
operating system worldwide and the fastest-growing in the United
States-and Microsoft's Windows 7. This may
be a cause for concern, as it limits the companies' ability to differentiate
themselves because it forces them to compete almost solely on price and
economies of scale. This is difficult since vendors generally rely on the same
components and manufacturers. That said, acquiring an OS and a developer
community also doesn't guarantee success.
"Many of the brands looking to compete in the slate market are strictly
hardware companies," said Shim. "They do not usually manage, promote,
qualify and support developers. Those competencies take time to properly
mature, but would-be iPad rivals have to learn fast or risk Apple running
further away with the market. We should not forget that Apple is leveraging the
success it built up with iPhone developers for the iPad."
A number of companies reportedly have plans to introduce iPad competitors at
CES. Will any have staying power?
Over the next two years, says Shim, expect a lot of false starts, failed
attempts and disasters. Still, the most likely survivors, he adds, are those
that have a long-term plan for their products, recognize that a successful
product requires significant investment in an OS and an ecosystem to support
it, and understand that standard business operations will not help them create