I might be stating the obvious here but there are only two real tablets on the market right now: the iPad and Kindle Fire. And I don’t think they’re direct competitors for each other as the iPad is a $600 top tier device and the Fire is a $200 tablet that fits more into the ‘good for the price’ category. But putting that aside, there are no other tablets gaining any significant amount of market share or mind share right now. Look around at the Black Friday sales that are underway. Like the dramatic price drop of the Playbook to $200. That still won’t make it sell even though it has better hardware than the Fire it has a garbage OS and no one craves it. There are plenty of more expensive Android tablets but once you start to pay a few hundred dollars an iPad is just a better product and it makes you consider a cheap laptop that’s still more functional. Then there’s the cheapo Android tablets and those are exactly what they claim to be. Cheap products that are passable for some things but since the Fire is relatively cheap, if you’re going to spend some money you may as well get a device that you know will be handled by a lot of people and get some real software and support traction unlike these no-name companies struggling for the bottom. Of course, there are Windows 7 tablets but that’s a niche that’s still being worked on (waiting for W8).
Some of you may remember the poll that showed 22% were looking for a Kindle Fire, 65% for an iPad and after that the next was a Galaxy Tab with just 4% of those polled stating they were looking to buy one. I think those numbers are about right. The iPad is still the king in terms of a polished OS, large ecosystem and solid hardware. The Fire is essentially on fire sale from day one, as some are suggesting that the costs to develop them are about $200 per so Amazon is looking to sell services and not hardware. The OS and market and hardware are no where near the iPad’s but neither is the price and that’s why it has a market. And the rest just don’t hit either of these marks well enough. Android is not as polished as iOS on a tablet and spending real money on it isn’t appealing especially when there are so many tablets and users are comparing a $200 Android tablet to a $500 Android tablet and the market hasn’t really shown an ability to differentiate products enough to justify twice the price.
Bottom line, until Windows 8 comes out I think this is a two horse race between the iPad and Fire which each have their own segment of the market and the rest you can get on sale for the holidays but a lot of those sales are the end of the inventory and the death of an experiment.