Friday, November 12, 2010

IPad, Android Tablets

Sandpaper in different grits (40, 80, 150, 240...
It's too early to tell if the plethora of 7 inch android based tablets that are starting to emerge will compete directly with the IPad, open up a new market segment of some combination of the two.  I do know that I find Steve Jobs recent comments that the smaller tablets should come with sand paper to reduce the size of the owners finger tips somewhat absurd given the success of the IPod Touch, IPhone and Android phones.  Having devices somewhere in between smart phones and the IPad in terms of size doesn't seem like market suicide to me.  I strongly suspect Jobs is just attempting to differentiate the IPad and marginalize an emerging adjacent segment to it.  Apple is successful not because they sell more devices than anyone else, but rather because they sell enough product and have superior margins.  They have established themselves as a premium brand and charge accordingly.  I'll be that the main reason they are shunning the 7 inch form factor is that they want to delay as long as possible competitive pressure to lower their prices and thus margins.   On the flip side, Apple's competitors don't seem that anxious to bring out devices that are similar in size to the IPad.

Of course somewhere between collusion and random chance is the place where most businesses operate in terms of communicating intentions to their competitors.  You sometimes have to read between the lines to see what is going on.  It isn't outside of the realm of possibility that the various product offerings and public statements being made from all sides essentially boil down to the following imagined dialog.

APPLE: We're happy with the 10 inch space for now.  We won't be bringing out a smaller version of the IPad.  To reassure you that this statement is true we're going to ridicule the whole concept so we'd have to eat crow to change course.

APPLE COMPETITION:  OK, we can live with that for now.  We think there is a viable market in the form factor between smart phones and the IPad.

APPLE: Cool, of course it goes without saying that we're going to beat the snot out of you if you invade our space.  Oh yeah, if that seven inch form factor proves lucrative enough we'll be making a future offering.


Image via Wikipedia
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