Originally Posted by drblank
The problem is with Android and WIndows as tablets is the lack of 3rd party apps and 3rd party hardware. iOS just has a big lead, especially in a lot of professional markets.
In some industries, like the music industry, 95% or more of the tablet and smartphone based apps and hardware is catering towards iPads. If you go to NAMM show, you won't see hardly any WIndows tablets being shown to demo anything, and Android tablets are also pretty much non-existent. I'm sure the same thing is happening to a lot of other industries. For the professional crowd, security is an issue, enterprise management s/w to help with deployments is important as is not having malware issues, and having the plethora of apps/h/w to choose from pretty much aces out Android.
This is undeniably true (for NAMM and other creative professional segments), but boring old grey-suite corporate market is much bigger than creative pro market such as music. You also don't need so many peripherals - as long as you can use standard IT gear. I think Lenovo played well with ThinkPad Tablet 2 - they released good keyboard base with pointing device, couple of sleeves and carry cases, and docking station - which is extremely useful and extremely rare among non-Windows tablets. HP did the same with their ElitePad 900; tablet itself is of lower quality (my personal opinion) than Lenovo, but dock supports 2 external screens.
While all this can sound trivial to some people, it is of huge importance in corporate environment, as the trends are now. Majority of the kits my company has been selling (and upgrading existing equipment) ends up with 2 monitors for desktop users and 2 monitors plus dock for laptop users. This is not something that we enforce on our customers; this is something that customers demand from us.
Software wise, Windows marketplace for Modern GUI is above 100000 apps, last time I checked... which is not stellar, but not too bad either, considering platform's age... but much as corporate customers are concerned, most if not all of software tools they require already exist on Windows classic desktop, and most of them will work on x86 tablet. Of course you will not run Adobe Premiere or 3D Max on dual core Atom with 2GB of RAM, but most corporate software tools are nowhere close in resource requirements and actually will work fine on low end x86 tablets, starting from MS Office.
And then, there is part about manageability and device's integration in existing corporate IT infrastructure. If you are working in IT department of large corporation, or are outsourced support of one, you know it well. Many things can be made to work on ARM tablets, but many of them will require extra workarounds and effort in general. With x86 tablet, you are at home. Or, to quote Apple themselves: It just works.
One thing you have to realize, when the PC industry starts dropping prices too much, they end up not making any profits. There is basically no PC mfg that makes decent profits from that line of business. ASUS, Acer, Lenovo, HP, Dell, etc. etc. make so little profits on the amount of business they do, that it's almost a waste of time being in that market. The same thing is happening in the smartphone market. The only reason why Samsung turns a profit is because they mfg many of the components and they spend very little money on after the sale support because they don't update the products OS. Look at how many Android products Samsung makes and how many are going to be running 4.3 on them. So far only the top of the line S4s, but if you buy even the S3 is just getting the 4.2.2 update. But they have a TON of product still running ICS, Gingerbread that I doubt they will bother pushing out a new OS update. Which means, they do a piss poor job in supporting last year's flagship and lower. I think they only really care about the current flagship model untll the next one comes out and then they kind of forgot everything else. It's a way for them to force their users to a new device and they probably think that most people are dumb enough to get suckered into that mentality. Sure, we'd all like to be running the latest and greatest, but sometimes it's just not affordable to do that.
This is true as well. But hey, if average OEM cannot pull complete ecosystem that will be desirable for sustainable number of customers (like Apple does), they will have to accept being me-too in a pool of Windows or Android manufacturers. They can still find a way to differentiate themselves and get a slice from premium market - look at Lenovo and Asus, for example - but they must accept that big chunk of their profit (low as it is) will come from low end hard competing equipment. Since most of them cannot achieve what apple did anyway, this is still better then non-existence.
I'm not saying that every Windows tablet should be and must be bottom-feeder, but a tablet based on Atom hardware should not compete with middle-class laptop price-wise. Back in the days, Atom netbooks were available around NZ$400, maybe even less. Asus VivoTab smart tablet is around $600, which is acceptable as you get 2nd CPU core, more RAM, 64GB SSD and touch screen over typical netbook... but when you take exactly same hardware and add digitiser/pen, a bit better enclosure and docking station port for almost NZ$500 more, that is not really realistic. That price will go down, and soon.
Of course Lenovo and others will try to milk new trends, but they can try it only that far. Lenovo Helix comes to mind when I'm speaking of that. It is convertible laptop/tablet with hardware behind screen and dockable keyboard with 2nd battery. Docked you can close it as laptop. You can also turn screen 180 degrees to point outside. Or you can undock it and use as tablet. Machine has 11" 1080 screen, dual core ULV i7, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD and integrated graphics. Lenovo proposed N$3500 for dealer-buy price, and almost NZ$4500 for end-user price. I believe that was before tax, so add extra 15% for NZ GST.
MS Surface Pro, with comparable specs (a bit slower i5 CPU but rest is there) with keyboard smartcover can be purchased for NZ$1500 including GST.
For NZ$4200 including GST you can get 15" Retina MBP with 2.7GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB flash storage.
I'm not saying Helix should be NZ$500, but. If they cannot offer it in vicinity of NZ$2000 (and still make decent profit), it is pointless.
I highly doubt Apple will lower the price of the MacMini. I think they'd rather constantly update the product with better this and that, but I think they have threshold of pain, if you will, on when a the product ceases to be worthwhile producing.
Ending up with 10% or less Net Profits to Gross revenues is unacceptable for Apple, but it's the norm for the PC mfg, which is why HP, Dell and others may have to end up doing what IBM, Compaq, and others have done. Sell off the business or shut the doors for good.
Apple is in good spot for having their own closed system and not really being just another Windows OEM (and competing with all of them). They can choose not to accept 10% net profits; good for them. But then, I don't see them gaining any significant ground in PC market either. For majority of people, computer is not much more than a pen - more versatile, but eventually just a communication tool. Check around, how many people are using CARAN d'ACHE pens versus cheap disposable BIC pens. And it is not only down to being able to afford one or not. It is down to people having different priorities, and computers not being too high on their priority list. End of the day, you don't need $1000 pen to sign something. And you don't need MBP Retina to check your email and FB.
But even then... now that you have mentioned IBM. Lenovo did take over their Think... business, and is currently No.1 Windows PC vendor. According to some sources, only them and Asus actually had growth last year, compared to year before. This not because of freaking Helix experiment, but because of making good and reliable machines for the money. They do not enjoy financial benefits of Apple's calibre nevertheless, but they are proving that computer company can be successful even in these trying times... while giving people who cannot spend more (or like spending elsewhere) good, reliable devices and service.