OK we’re going to do a little bit of word association. I’m going to say a word and then you tell me what the first thing that comes to your mind is. The word is…
So what image flashed across your mind? The Ten Commandments? The Rosetta Stone? Nah, chances are, for the majority of you I would think, the image you saw in your head was that of an Apple iPad. And that makes sense. When it comes to tablet computing the iPad is in fact the most popular device currently available on the market, with 29 million sold in just the first 15 months the device was on the shelf.
And the masses love it for a number of reasons, whether that has to do with actual user need and functionality, cool factor, Apple fandom or simply being able to say “I have an iPad.” So it sells. At a $499 price point for the entry level model, it’s not really a tough sell to most folks either. But what if you wanted a tablet but didn’t want an iPad? What were the options that were available? Windows 7-based slates were buggy and DOA to begin with. Android-based units like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom couldn’t compete on price. HP’s WebOS-based TouchPad tanked and triggered a fire sale. Other cheaper models couldn’t compete on quality.
So there the iPad sits, atop the stack of available tablets, on its golden mobile apple-shaped throne. All of this bolstered, of course, by Apple’s ferociously loyal fanbase in the cult of Mac. But I won’t deny the genius of Jobs. He created a sub-market of computing that there was no real need for by introducing a product, and letting consumers create that need themselves. Brilliance. So now we have the current tablet market. Out-speccing the iPad creates a disadvantage on price, outpricing it means lower quality, and no one has figured out a way to strike that balance and see the same level of success.
As my gaming roots run deep in Street Fighter, this is where I picture “here comes a new challenger!” flying across the screen at the prospect of a new tablet officially being announced this week by Amazon in a Wednesday press event. And this fight card is shaping up to be a good one as both companies are doing well financially and have strong customer bases. Both Apple and Amazon have first to market titles for different devices – Apple’s iPad for modern tablet, and Amazon’s Kindle as a modern e-reader. The real difference between the two giants is tactics and content.