Apple's iPad used to own the tablet market, and perhaps by some counts, it still does. The number crunchers at Strategy Analytics, however, have Android sitting on top, and by a pretty wide margin to boot. According to Strategy Analytics, Android secured a 67 percent global share of the tablet market in the first quarter of 2013, a quarter which overall tablet shipments reached 57.1 million units.
Don't expect a powerhouse slate in this price range
How low can tablet prices go? Apparently under a Benjamin. As tablet makers dance the low-price limbo, consumers benefit from a bevy of affordable slates to choose from, even from name brand vendors. In this case, it's Hewlett-Packard that reportedly plans to build and sell a $99 tablet at Walmart as back-to-school shoppers flood the stores preparing for another school year.
Perhaps the No. 1 reason to buy a mobile device direct from Google is so that you can receive timely updates to new Android builds rather than wait around on a third-party hardware maker and your wireless carrier to get with the program. As it were, Google today announced the next incremental version of Android, version 4.3. It's still Jelly Bean, which means Key Lime Pie is still somewhere on the horizon.
Surface RT now available at a more reasonable price
On hindsight, Microsoft overestimated the demand for its ARM-based Surface RT tablets and the willingness of consumers to pay $500 for an unproven slate. What made Surface RT an even tougher sell at the original asking price is that Android slates have been getting much more affordable in recent months. Stuck with all that stock, Microsoft is reportedly planning to slash $150 off the price of Surface RT.
A cheap Android tablet from a name brand manufacturer
Asus just threw the gauntlet down by launching its low-price Memo Pad HD 7, a 7-inch Android tablet that's surprisingly feature-rich for the money. The MSRP is listed as $149, the same as the original Memo Pad 7, but this time around you get quite a bit more for the money, not the least of which is an upgrade from a 1GHz single-core chip to a quad-core processor clocked at 1.2GHz.
You'd have to stick your head under a rock the size of Kansas to miss the current trend towards mobile devices, and it's certainly true that OEMs (save for Lenovo) are getting hammered by slumping desktop and notebook sales. But just like Rocky Balboa, it would be a mistake to count traditional PCs out of the fight. In fact, desktops and notebooks combined will continue to outpace tablets through this year and next, according to Gartner.
Microsoft continues to lob advertising grenades at Apple's iPad.
I have to admit, I'm finally impressed with Microsoft's ability to market. That's not something I can recall saying before, certainly not when Microsoft tried to counter the humorous (but misleading) Mac vs PC commercials with a series of Jerry Seinfeld ad spots. While Apple was busy clowning Windows Vista, Microsoft figured it was a good idea to show Seinfeld shopping for shoes. Seriously. Thankfully, Microsoft isn't making the same mistake in mobile, and its latest ads are actually quite funny.
It took some time, but Google's hardware partners finally got the memo that consumers are interested in affordable Android tablets, and the lower the price the better. That's not to say Android can't compete with the iPad at the $499 tier and above, but by and large, consumers hoped Android would usher in affordable slates, and that's what we've been seeing this past year. Tablet makers may take it to a whole new level, however, by introducing $99 Android slates later this year.
Barnes & Noble is pushing hard to make its Nook HD (7 inches) and Nook HD+ (8.9 inches) tablets the go-to gift item for Father's Day by rolling out its deepest discounts to date. That's saying something, considering you could have saved anywhere from $50 to $90 on a Nook HD/HD+ for Mother's Day. This time around the discounts run as deep as $120, provided you make a purchase between now and June 16, 2013.
Father's Day is only a couple of weeks away, and one way to celebrate the occasion is by getting your dad a gift. You could go with a tie (again) or some other piece of clothing, take him out to dinner, or wait for us to finalize our gift guide (hang tight, it's coming). One of the items that has a high chance of making the list is Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, and if you' don't procrastinate, you can save yourself $20 with the purchase of one.