The Tablet Wars 2011
Will there be a tablet war in 2011? What’s the situation as of the date of writing? As far as tablet availability is concerned in the Canadian market, we have only the iPad by Apple and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Blackberry Playbook hasn’t appeared yet, but it’s expected in early 2011. What’s happened, in fact, is that we’ve been promised so much, but no new devices have materialized and plans for more tablets got scrapped. Once the iPad came out, the competition realized quickly, they’d been beat - right at the start line.
What’s happening, in fact, is that while the competition is trying to play catch up, the people at Apple are working on the next generation which we can look forward to in early 2011. At least that’s what the rumor mill is spewing out currently. Apple is very tight lipped about their new products. Why? Apple is a publicly driven company and that’s just the way Steve Jobs runs his shop.
We’re not going to hear any advance publicity about Apple products. As in the past, Apple holds BIG events in which to announce new product launches. Somewhat like an expectant mother, Apple keeps the news to themselves and the public has little time to wait to actually see and have the new product in their hot little hands. Big event equals product launch equals Get Yours Now! Call it taking advantage of all the hype, that’s the way Apple does it, time after time.
Blackberry on the other hand, likes to announce their new products months in advance and the public has to wait. What happens is the excitement about the new product sort of dies down. Apple takes advantage of the hype and excitement around a suddenly announced new product and everybody has to rush out and buy it. They’ll even stand in line from the wee hours of the early morning, just to get theirs.
As of today’s date, consumers have a very limited choice as far as tablets are concerned. The choice is, do you want an iPad or an iPad? The second issue for consumers is that carriers don’t subsidize tablets yet. Arguably more people would adopt tablets if the major carriers underwrote the price of tablets. Who needs another contract and another bill to pay? What would be a more attractive option for consumers (something offered by the major carriers such as Bell and Rogers) would be the possibility of sharing data between your cell phone and your iPad. If you have a data plan, you could share data. This would be the most attractive option for consumers with the convenience of just one bill to pay.
As usual, data plans in the US are still cheaper, however, somewhat slowly – this is changing. AT &T used to offer unlimited plans. Today in Canada, you can buy a 1 gig data and talk plan for about $70 plus tax per month. Yes, we still pay more but not substantially.
Will there be a tablet war in Canada? That depends on a few things. First, we have to wait and see if the competition comes out with their much anticipated products. Where’s the Blackberry Playbook to compete with the iPad? And, will the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Blackberry Playbook be a formidable product – enough so to actually compete with the standards set by Apple’s iPad?
Secondly, one has to look at the total cost of ownership. With Rogers/Fido, Telus and Bell charging some of the highest rates in the world for data and cell phone use, consumers will still be adding up the costs of owning a NetBook vs an iPad or any other tablet. However, Rogers and Bell’s market share is definitely being challenged with the new kids on the block, Wind and Mobilicity, etc. If the only thing holding you hostage to Rogers/Fido, Telus and Bell is the contract, more and more people will eventually escape their serfdom and move on to the lower cost providers.
All in all, what it will all come down to will be need. A tablet offers a different user experience from a laptop or a NetBook. The touch screen experience is becoming the norm. Children, rumor has it, as young as two years old are now reaching up and grabbing their parents’ iPhones and iPads. I’m not sure if this is the same as reaching up and grabbing their mother’s necklaces, but this is significant in that these children will grow up without the need of keyboards or the computer mouse.
In 2011, you will see many of the new expected tablets on the market. 2011 will be the year that you will witness real shifts in consumer technology purchases coming from spillover effect of the iPad and the ebook readers. The iPad offers more than the ereader.
Will there be a tablet war in 2011? Depending on the total cost of ownership, product launches and whether the carrier companies offer real deals and data sharing between devices, if all bodes well, get set for the tablet war of 2011. And remember, competition is a good thing. Eventually, it means lower prices for us all.