With so many tablets on the horizon -- think several dozen -- it's a bit premature to anoint Apple's iPad as the go-to device. Nevertheless, market research firm Gartner is encouraging CEOs to take the iPad seriously as a business tool.
"It is usually not the role of the CEO to get directly involved in specific technology device decisions, but Apple's iPad is an exception," said Stephen Prentice, Gartner Fellow and vice president. "It is more than just the latest consumer gadget; and CEOs and business leaders should initiate a dialogue with their CIOs about if they have not already done so."
According to Gartner, tablet sales will reach 19.5 million units by the end of 2010, most of which will belong to the iPad. In 2011, that number will jump to 54.8 million, and surpass 208 million in 2014.
"Individuals are willing to buy these devices themselves, so enterprises must be ready to support them," said Mr. Prentice. "While some IT departments will say they are a 'Windows shop,' and Apple does not support the enterprise. Organizations need to recognize that there are soft benefits in a devices of this type in the quest to improve recruitment and retention. Technology is not always about productivity."
Gartner called the iPad an iconic device that's currently redefining the market, and advises CEOs to act sooner rather than later.
"While there are no certainties, the iPad looks to become a market-disrupting device, like the iPod before it," Prentice says.
We didn't need a formal report to tell us Apple's iPad is the dominant tablet right now, but we got one anyway. According to market research firm Strategy Analytics (SA), Apple now controls 95 percent of the infant tablet market due to overwhelming iPad sales in the July-to-September quarter.
"The tablet wars are up and running. Apple has quickly leveraged its famous brand, an extensive retail presence, and user-friendly design to develop the tablet segment into a multi-billion dollar global business," said SA analyst Neil Mawston.
The total tablet market now stands at 4.4 million units, up from 3.5 million one quarter ago. Expect those numbers to shoot way up as the fourth quarter draws to a close and on into 2011. That's when you'll begin to see all those announced Android tablets (and some Windows-based slates) appear.
According to iSuppli's itemized breakdown of parts, Samsung's new Galaxy Tab carries a Bill of Materials (BOM) totaling $205.22. That's a good chunk less than Apple's iPad, which breaks down to a little over $264 for the 16GB 3G version.
"Instead of matching up with the iPad on a feature-by-feature basis, the Galaxy Tab really is a larger version of Samsung's Galaxy smartphone," said Andrew Rassweiler, director, principal analyst and tear down services manager for iSuppli. "While the design approach makes the Galaxy less expensive to produce than the iPad 3G, it also makes for a product that lacks the same usability. The Galaxy Tab's screen resolution, size, and technology are not at the same level as the iPad. This is a critical difference, given the fact that the display is a key differentiating factor for the iPad."
As is typically the case, the most expensive part of Samsung's tablet is the display, which iSuppli pegs at $57. The Flash memory costs $51, and after that there's a steep dropoff in component prices, starting with the mechanical parts (PCBs, metals, plastics, connectors, etc.) that add up to $15.22.
Sprint isn't actually selling iPads, but Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told GigaOm that it's seen brisk sales of its Overdrive 3G/4G modem to iPad owners. The iPad is available in a Wi-Fi-only flavor, as well as one that supports AT&T's 3G bands. Verizon recently began selling the tablet in-store bundled with a Verizon MiFi.
Both the Overdrive and MiFi are mobile data devices that create a small Wi-Fi hotspot. Consumers that are in areas with Sprint's 4G WiMAX technology have reason to pick up an overdrive, but that's only available in 55 cities. If anything, this just shows how anxious people are to get an iPad with mobile data that isn't tied to AT&T.
As far as ViewSonic is concerned, you can forget any talk of an iPad killer emerging. Apple's magical slate is going to snatch up 50 percent of the projected 45 million tablet sales in 2011, ViewSonic predicts, and the display maker will be thrilled if it can claim 10 percent of what's left. That comes out to over 2 million units.
ViewSonic plans to bring its ViewPad 7 device to the North American market sometime this year, which launched today in Taiwan for what amounts to around $480 in U.S. currency. The ViewPad 7 runs Android 2.2 and is a couple of inches smaller than the iPad, but it isn't the only tablet ViewSonic has on tap. The company also plans to release a 10-inch version with an Intel Atom N450 processor and dual-booting OSes (Windows 7 Home Premium and Android 1.6), and a 5-inch model somewhat along the lines of Dell's Streak. In addition, ViewSonic announced plans to release a 9.7-inch tablet built around Nvidia's Tegra 2 platform, which if priced right might have the best shot at helping ViewSonic reach its 10 percent goal.
One advantage ViewSonic's Asia Pacific president Alan Chang notes is that unlike some of its competitors, ViewSonic doesn't have related product lines (smartphones, netbooks) that could end up cannibalized by tablet sales.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet will be hitting US retail next month, but what if you don't care to do more business with the mobile carriers? As it turns out, Best Buy (of all companies) is coming to the rescue. The electronics retailer will be selling a Wi-Fi-only version of the Galaxy Tab for $499.
The Tab is already making an appearance in Best Buy advertizing, but no firm release date is mentioned. Best Buy will also carry the 3G versions for both Verizon and Sprint. The Galaxy Tab will sport a 7-inch touch screen LCD with Android 2.2 under Samsung's TouchWiz interface. The $499 price point is exactly the same as the 10-inch Wi-Fi-only iPad. It's going to be interesting to see how consumers respond to the choice.
Show of hands, how many of you play Farmville? Now keep your hands up if you own or plan to purchase an iPad. Everybody else, go grab a gun and shoot everyone in the leg that has their hands up. We kid, we kid -- natural selection will take care of itself.
In the meantime, all you iPad toting, Farmville loving miscreants can have the best of both worlds, as Zynga announced its popular game is now available on Apple's magical tablet.
Farmville is already being played by more than 60 million people around the wold, with players receiving in excess of 500,000 virtual gifts in the game every 24 hours, Zynga says. But for all its success, Farmville has been tied to privacy concerns on Facebook, with the Wall Street Journalclaiming it's one of the titles blatantly ignoring users' privacy settings by sharing personal info with advertisers. Prior to that, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus admitted to sleazy business tactics early on in attempt to earn a buck, such as offering "users poker chips if they downloaded this zwinky toolbar" that he himself said he "couldn't get rid of it" once installed.
Barnes and Noble is slated to hold a Nook event on October 26, and we're hearing rumblings of a major hardware revision. The new Nook, according to a source that spoke with Cnet, may have a full color touchscreen in place of the monochrome eInk display it currently uses. The screen would be 7-inches, and the device would retail for $249. The Nook would continue to be based on Android as well.
The Amazon Kindle ereader has seemingly stuck to the eInk route for the time being, and Barnes and Noble may be looking to blow past them technologically. Missing is any information on what type of screen technology the 'Nook Color" would be using. A standard LCD, like the iPad uses, comes with its own set of drawbacks. The color eInk-like Mirasol and PixelQi dispalys have been demoed, but no one has foreseen their use in ereaders so soon.
With Amazon looking to sell you a Kindle for $140, will consumers pay more for a color screen? The $500 price point of the iPad also creates an interesting barrier. Those willing to deal with LCD screens for reading might be willing to pay more for the iPad's increased functionality. What's your prediction for the announcement?
Verizon raised a few eyebrows this week when it announced it would sell Samsung's Galaxy Tab for $600 on November 11, 2010. Days earlier, Verizon said it would start selling Apple's iPad (Wi-Fi) version for $630 bundled with Verizon's MiFi Mobile Hotspot device. Math majors can check our numbers, but that's just a $30 price difference. Is it enough?
"Competitors coming into the market have to offer something better, different, or cheaper," said Avi Greengart, an analyst with Current Analysis.
Point blank, Greengart says Verizon's pricing of the Galaxy Tab is simply too high and should have been tagged at under $400. Even with the Tab's advantages over the iPad -- integrated camera, USB, Flash support -- Apple's strong brand name is just too much to contend with at similar price points, especially considering the larger selection of apps.
"Tab feels solid in your hand but without the App Store behind it and with a smaller screen they can't charge the same amount as the iPad," Greengart said.
During a recent summit in Taiwan, Acer chairman JT Wang once again attempted to put the iPad hype into perspective, saying Apple's magical tablet isn't impacting notebook sales the way some analysts predicted.
Wang did admit that the iPad and similar products will become a new mainstream segment in the PC market, but not at the expense of other products. And even though the iPad has been selling well since it came out in April, Wang says that's par for the course for new product launches, but expects consumers to eventually return to their senses.
Part of Wang's confidence in the notebook market is that many iPad owners haven't gone and dropped their laptops off at Goodwill. Instead, they're using them for typing up documents, drawing up charts, and other tasks that the iPad is ill-equipped to handle.