Originally Posted by mlayer
1. Don't rush the product just to beat Apple.
Whether it's Samsung last year or Motorola in March or RIM preannouncing in September, it's bad form to release half-baked. Unlike phones, people are reading the reviews on these things to see which ones work best. The ones with mediocre reviews aren't selling. Apple got its fans to buy in, which created a network effect as new apps and functionality was released. Few of the competitors will be able to do that.
2. Tablets aren't phones.
Both Samsung and Motorola thought they could simply leverage the same old carrier-based subsidy/spiff sales style and rack up the sales. They did not foresee that people didn't want yet another contract. Now Samsung is being forced to practically dump its products and the first 3g-based Xoom sales are weak.
3. Margins are going to be crushing.
Apple was taking a risk when selling the iPad because it's a higher cost to build, potentially lower margin product. They made up for that by having built-in value-add as the average selling price over time is over $600. If people looking for an alternative don't like Apple's "premium" brand guess what's going to sell? The ultra cheap models with razor thin margins. Just like netbooks it'll be a race to the bottom all over again. Then again, Google is forcing higher hardware specs for Honeycomb, which should help keep the discounters at bay.
4. The component crush.
Apple buying up over half of the touchscreen market (and other parts with upfront cash) makes it harder for the compeitiors to forecast and book production. Can new plants come online fast enough to meet demand? If you're Apple, not fast enough.
Tablet sales are being propelled by one simple question, "Tablets are different, but why are they good?" Apple has answered that question. When the others start capably solving that riddle, their sales can start to take off too.
This is good news for Apple in both the short to mid-term of course. But also likely good news for two others: HP (already mentioned) and MS (barely mentioned).
Google indeed seems to have approached tablets as mostly larger smart phones with more "screen estate."HP and MS,
conversely, are apparently taking the time to release something resembling finished, thought-through products. Both are going to be part of company systems with deep hooks from phones thru tabs thru desktops. And both companies are to various degrees emulating Apple's basic paradigm.
HP in fact looks to want to break out of the commodity model and become another company which uses an OS and software to market complementary hardware. And even on these boards WebOS
gets at least some grudging praise if only because it was designed partly by people associated with early versions of iOS.
Yesterday's forum discussion on the new touch gestures in Lion being later suitable for a touchscreen iMac made me think of HP's new tilt-screen PC which is a suitable prototype for just such a device, in that it's a solution for the ergonomic problem of having to reach out to a vertical screen that Jobs has discussed.
Their big problem is scaling WebOS to be a fully competitive desktop OS (and garnering apps for it) - and it remains to be seen how well their initial dual-OS approach (Win AND WebOS on desktops) will work.MS
also can't match Apple from stem to stern because it lacks the hardware base of Apple and HP - but is trying to exert more control over its licensees than Google's done with Android. They lost time with Windows Phone 7 by pulling the phone group into the Win 8 dev process, but stand to reap eventual gains by having done so, especially with Google's stumbling approach into the tab space. And their 2012 release date no longer seems as hopeless as it once did. (Win 3.0 wasn't released until the Mac had been out for five years, after all.)
Windows 7 is clearly the "least sucky" version of Win to date - and my reading indicates that's because they began emulating Apple's approach to its development by modularizing sections of the code, and only including stable modules in the overall build process instead of trying to sort out system-wide effects of throwing in this function and that as they went along. They've built on that in the Win 8 process by including tab-specific and phone-specific layers from the beginning. And they have been building touch pieces into Win for some years now with their "3 screen" goal
(phones, slates, PC's) - which has now become 3 and half screens - since there will be two types of Win 8 tabs - one running full (touch enabled) Win 8 (and thus full Office) on Intel processors and another running the lighter version on the ARM processors which will be powering their Metro-skinned phones as well.
So there will be (nearly? fully?) as much correspondence between Win 8 and their phone/slate OS's as there is between iOS and OS X. Which as we all know is a proven model.
They're also scaling down Office
to have some functionality and full compatibility on their ARM hardware and WT8/WP8 - and that will certainly have some value in marketing to businesses. (Though I do expect in time that there will be Office-like offerings on the iPad. MS makes good money on Office for Mac, and they need their apps - or at least their file formats - to be on such a popular platform which is already demonstrating considerable business uptake.)
Of course that's a lot of targets to hit simultaneously for a company famous for slipping release dates and still burdened with huge legacy code issues. But we shall see.
So I'll stop there without going deeper into HP or RIM
(which is in at least fairly deep doo-doo and still scrambling with a half-baked release), except to note that besides "closing" access to Android
3.0, Google's hired 1900 people in the last three months
, indicating they're realizing they have a bigger job on their hands than they realized when they blithely tried to simply occupy more pixels with bigger widgets when entering the tab space. I've also heard they're also finding out they're not getting as much ad revenue
from Android devices as expected, giving them more to re-think.
Bottom line, Apple's iPod-like market share of the tab market is likely to continue for another year or more, but it will eventually find itself, if still the clear leader, in a market with several other serious players in in the mix for the longer run. The "post-PC" era is a reality and everyone else finds themselves in a position of having to bet a considerable portion of their farms on gaining a toehold.