Nevermind that Motorola, Toshiba, Samsung, Research in Motion (RIM), HTC, Viewsonic, HP, LG and Acer have already shown off new tablets, Forrester thinks, “Competing tablets to the iPad are poised to fail” and forecasted that Apple will enjoy an 80 per cent market share by the end of 2011.
That’s a rather impressive statement given that rival outfit Strategy Analytics claims that Android devices already make up 22 per cent of the market. Apparently Forrester believes that Apple’s unimpeded run to tablet glory is due to consumers placing higher value on Apple products and customer care.
Sarah Rotman, senior analyst at Forrester also said there was a human element favouring Apple. “The humans working in the Apple Store will have a huge impact teaching consumers about the iPad and how to use it.” Humans working in a store? It seems Apple has tapped into an unknown resource, the village elders must be informed at once.
Rotman continued by saying that those who work at Verizon and Best Buy stores don’t know how to flog tablets, whereas Apple has the customer dancing to its tune right from the get-go. Rotman is right in that sense, perhaps. Apple’s retail experience is certainly better than wandering around a branch of PC World or Best Buy being courted by a salesperson who is more enthusiastic about selling an extended warranty than the features of products on the shelves.
However Rotman wasn’t writing off all of Apple’s competitors. The shining beacon of light reflecting from her Ipad comes from Amazon, as she has detected a “market that’s ripe for disruption” by the mail-order firm. Confused? Here’s Forrester’s three-point plan for Amazon to take on Apple.
1. Launch its own e-book service after Apple managed to anger so many with its payment rules. This is probably Amazon’s best chance at one-upping Apple as its recent payment fiasco left many up in arms.
2. Copy the Gillette sales model. Flog the tablet at below cost and overcharge for content. Such a scheme has worked wonders for the popularity of file sharing networks on the Internet.
3. Use its brand, retail channel and the content. According to Forrester’s figures more people want to buy a tablet from Amazon than Motorola.
It’s not all that surprising consumers that rate Motorola so poorly, given that for the past five years Motorola has shown off only three devices worthy of note, the Milestone, Atrix and Xoom. Forrester doesn’t provide any figures for comparison against brands such as Samsung, LG, HP or RIM.
Amazon does have an impressive supply chain, but so do firms such as HP and Acer. Unlike with books, users like to play around with tablets before buying them, so a lack of brick and mortar stores could hinder Amazon in selling tablet PCs. It also seems that Rotman is using the fact that Amazon’s considerable success with the Kindle will automatically translate to the much more technologically complicated tablet PC market.
Perhaps realising that putting all her eggs in Amazon’s basket could leave Rotman with egg on her face, she says a more detailed report outlines ways in which Sony, Microsoft and Vizio, a US consumer electronics outfit, can also ‘disrupt’ the market. It would be an easy recommendation to make if Sony and Microsoft had set the smartphone market ablaze recently, but The INQUIRER isn’t buying it.
While some of Rotman’s points seem a little iffy, she is still on the right track with urging tablet manufacturers to create low-cost devices. US bookseller Barnes and Noble has been pushing its Nook reader, which is in essence a cheap Android tablet with an e-reader application. It is available only in the US, but Barnes and Noble has said that it had sold millions of devices.
The problem is, as Rotman has pointed out, that tablet PCs such as Motorola’s Xoom are priced too closely to Apple’s Ipad 2. For a lot of people who find it hard to look beyond the branding, there simply isn’t enough of a price difference to consider something other than Apple’s iconic products.
Even so, it is hard to see how Apple will hold on to a 93 per cent market share with the onslaught of Android tablets in 2011. Apple might still remain the number one vendor, but just as in the smartphone market, Steve Jobs won’t be able to stem the tide of the Android tablets.