Originally Posted by Marvin
There were too many right decisions made with the iPad that other manufacturers haven't made: form factor, price, build quality, software distribution, core OS features and design, hardware architecture.
Apple pretty much nailed every single one and if a competitor so much as slips up on any one point, like picking a bad screen size, having poor battery life, having a sluggish UI, having a cooling fan, being too expensive, having a bad OS or developer APIs - it's game over.
The funniest part I find is how everyone has gotten so used to PC manufacturers being cheaper than Apple that they disapprove of tablets when they are more expensive than iPads and Apple's competitors can do nothing about it.
iOS devices just seem like someone has sat in a room for over 25 years and thought of every wrong way to handle personal computing and discarded them, then combined it with vast experience in manufacturing and hardware design. Nobody has ever really been able to do that before and everyone seems to have followed a fairly common rulebook. This time, Apple has defined this entire direction and the phrase I saw posted on the forum a while ago is very true: talent is hitting a target no one else can hit, genius is hitting a target no one else can see.
Now that Apple has defined this direction for personal computing, their competitors are trying to hit a target Apple built and are falling short.
I think one of the key successes to the iPad that you hint at but don't state explicitly is having an already large, highly compatible software library available on day 1. There may not have been that many iPad apps at the beginning, but there were a megaton of iPhone apps and they were all compatible. Having that huge, free, useful software library available from the getgo is something nobody else has been able to do.
Some of them are doing this completely wrong, like the Playbook, where there is almost no ecosystem in the beginning. People will naturally wonder when shelling out $500, what do I use it for?
Android kinda had this, but they didn't have the compatibility, depth or usefulness of the App Store. They're the closest ones to having some kind of ecosystem, but it just doesn't compare.
All of those things are important that you mention, but its really all about the apps. The device is nothing without apps. iOS has more apps than anyone knows what to do with. This is the only kind of choice I think that is relevant to consumers, having the immense app library on tap makes the iPad far more functional than any of its competitors, despite whatever hardware or ports they may put into theirs, or what they might price it at, etc etc.
The only way anyone can possibly beat Apple at this point is to beat their ecosystem. I just don't see that happening. And with MS firmly establishing that Win8 tablets won't have backwards compatiblity with Windows apps, that there won't be any ecosystem or library to draw from, I think that was the last possiblity of someone actually creating competition for Apple.