iPad competitors considering delays in the face of tepid market reception?

iPad 2 vs. Xoom vs. Optimus Pad vs. Galaxy Tab 10 vs TouchPad vs BlackBerry Playbook -- Spec wars!

The Motorola Xoom launched to sales that were okay but not breakthrough, the BlackBerry Playbook has gotten hopeful though mixed reviews, and now Digitimes reports other would-be iPad 2 competitors may be getting cold feed.

But sales of Xoom tablet PCs have been lower than expected, said sources at Taiwan's notebook makers, citing brand image, pricing, insufficient applications and the unstable performance of Android 3.0 as reasons for the doldrums. [...] With Google unable to offer sufficient support to cooperation partners at present, many players have decided to delay the launch of Android 3.0 tablet PCs, the sources added.

Last year we debated whether Apple had created a mainstream tablet market, or simply an iPad market, and whether tablets would end up being like iPods with Apple dominant, or like Smartphones with many players in contention. It's far, far too early to tell but it is telling that a year post-iPad launch the competition is still feeling their way out the of gate. (If not entirely flummoxed as Steve Jobs suggested at the iPad 2 event.)

We know some of you are considering the PlayBook, an Android Honeycomb tablet, or an HP/Palm TouchPad, what do you make of the struggle to get a strong competitor to market?


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPad competitors considering delays in the face of tepid market reception?


The iPad cloners of the world are screwed. They can't beat iPad's low price (except for the e-waste bottom feeders like Coby.) They can't beat Apple's media and app delivery infrastructure. They can't beat Apple's integration between software and hardware (and between iPad and other Apple products like Macs.)
And here's the real killer: they can't beat the Apple Experience (tm). Sometimes it's the intangibles that are the hardest to get right.

typical apple nut http://www.asus.com/Eee/EeePad/EeePadTransformerTF101/ says otherwise. The tablet is 399 has dual core, ipd (yes ips) display on a tablet. 3D stereo surround sound, 16 hour battery life, Android 3.0, and it even has usb ports. To give insult to injury it has multi card readers built in. Its light, and fast. Its everything the ipad2 should have had.

sure it comes with a card reader...just like the xoom shipped with an SD card reader......that wasn't functional.
All these things you list are useless if they can't be used or used effectively.
Example: The USB port on comcast boxes= unusable.

"dual core, ipd (yes ips) display on a tablet. 3D stereo surround sound, 16 hour battery life, Android 3.0" Blah, blah, friggin' blah. That thing blows chunks and nobody wants it. You have to be freaking kidding me.

It only has 16 hours of battery if you plug it into the keyboard dock, other wise it's the same as the iPad.

I think that webOS offers a better experience. I have been using webOS for 16 months, and an original iPad since Christmas. I find myself reaching for my phone rather than the iPad quite often because of my preference for webOS.
In terms of "cloners", I'm not sure I agree that Android or webOS are "clones". iPad UI is basically a left-to-right scrolling app drawer. Android has widgets so you can get a lot of information without opening apps. webOS has real multitasking using cards. Three very different UI/user experiences for people that want their devices to work in different ways.
So far, I'm regretting buying my wife an iPad for Christmas rather than waiting for the HP Touchpad to be released.

"Last year we debated whether Apple had created a mainstream tablet market, or simply an iPad market, and whether tablets would end up being like iPods with Apple dominant, or like Smartphones with many players in contention."
It's going to end up like the latter scenario, because, like iPods, iPads aren't a primary device. A smartphone(any phone) is the user's primary communications tool, so everyone needs one, meaning the market is massive.

You know, it will be real hard for competitors to catch up. Apple didn't just create a slew of great products, but also a vibrant ecosystem such as iTunes, iTV with airplay and airprint. I'm sure Apple makes changes to their game plan as times change, but they've had that game plan for years. Everyone else are in meet/design/manufacture/release (crap) mode. Sometimes the tried and true methods that have worked in the past, simply don't work now or there is a better way.
Microsoft is so much in belief that a tablet needs a full OS and pen. They are so inflexible in that belief and have a proud chip on their shoulder that Windows OS is "everything", that they will continue to fail.

Riiiight... just like it was hard to catch up and surpass the iphone... not sure who is holding up their release, seems to me all the big boys r coming out with their tabs in the june / july area.. and as far as price, its already known that the competition is going to meet or beat apples.. the xoom was just an overpriced dev model to get it out. Bith google and moto said their own expectations for sales were a mill or less, but it got something for us devs to work with.

It was hard to catch up and surpass iPhone. There is about 200 Android phones on the market on EVERY carrier (even pre pay) and another 100 scheduled for release before New Year versus a phone that was until 2 months ago only on one carrier. C'mon guy, don't kid yourself.

The iPhone still hasn't been surpassed! I'll give you any 2 Android phones against the sales if the one iPhone! You'd still suck ass! There is no iPhone competitor! Android added to 467754 different 5 cent phones by 456765 carrirers is not the same as a phone vs phone comparison! Now... Pick one Android phone and show me numbers that say that it beat the iPhone in sales! I challenge u and all the people who make stupid statements about Android vs iPhone! Pick one phone and do your comparison! Would you put Micheal Jordan against the Lakers or against Kobe? Would you say that Ford outsells the 2011 Porsche Turbo or Ford oustells Porsche? Let's be real the entire argument of Android vs iPhone is a Bitches Way Out! I'll even give you an unreleased Android like the Incredible 2 or the Bionic! Start counting on the day it drops and I won't even laugh when you lose!

It's true, HTC, Moto, Samsung; etc.. don't care about Android, they each care more about their respective sales, growth, inline projections and P&L. If Android does not deliver consistently, then they will move on.

or the fact that Apple has bought out all the parts enough form them to delay it.
besides that I finnaly got around to updating my ipad to 4.3 and I don't know I'm starting to miss the apps. I just wont update my phone till apple gets the ball rolling with a larger screen.

I'm pretty sure Samsung already announced their new Galaxy Tab variants prices and the 8.9" was $469 and I'm pretty sure the 10.1 was either 499 or 529

The tablet makers need to stop expecting enormous sales and plan for reasonable sell-throughs. Compared to tablet PCs (I own one), 100,000 Xoom units is amazing. The makers need to get their offers out there, learn what they need to do, and update to compete. This is to say, the sooner that they realize people want an iPad, not a tablet, the sooner they'll make something more like an iPad (or a better experience than an iPad) and even out the market.

Releasing carrier versions first was definitely the major mistake of both the Tab and the Xoom. If you want to increase sales you need to have a much cheaper WiFi-only version either with or as your initial launch.

I got a chance to play with a Xoom recently and it was cool and sexy, but I didn't see anything that made me go "Whoa!". It did things differently from the iPad, but I'm not convinced it did them in a way I would call "better", nor did I see anything that made me second guess my decision to get an iPad 2. Granted, we are talking 15 minutes so I only had a taste, but my experience was not unlike what any average consumer would have when making a tablet purchase, and they outnumber fanboys 10,000 to one.
"iPad" is probably just as much a category name to most people as "iPod" or "Kleenex" is, meaning that if they want to move units, Motorola, HP and all need to really differentiate thier offering. They need to come up with things an iPad can't do, or figure out how to do what an iPad does in a much better way that can easily be demonstrated to my Dad (an average consumer).
Until that happens, there will be iPad, Motorola's iPad, HP's iPad, RIM's iPad, etc. in the minds of the majority of people who want a tablet computer. If iPad didn't exist, I would have bought the Xoom and been very happy with it - but iPad does exist and has the Apple quality, eco-system, experience and "cool factor" (even little kids know the iPad is cool) to back it up. Why would anyone (outside of Apple haters and other brand fanboys - i.e. 2% of the population) buy anything but the "original"?
Trust me, I want to see real competition in the tablet market to keep Apple focused, but first someone else has to get the general public's attention.

With desktops and laptops these companies can compete on price and have no problem. But now they are charging the same or more and Apple has the quality awareness on their side. It's not a hard choice for Average Joe to make when presented with each.

@ rayz336 re: "...and Iā€™m pretty sure the 10.1 was either 499 or 529..."
Doesn't really matter. Dead. On. Arrival.

Maybe the truth about this particular product. The others may have a chance. Using fanboy is lazy. Get up and buy your product of choice and go about your business.

And? Are you suggesting that he's not correct? Dead. On. Arrival. is just a description of the truth, son.

They all should stop looking at the iPad for inspiration and begin creating a unique experience. The iPad is an experience not a spec driven device this is the key element in Apple it is all about the feeling one gets with their device the experience of the thing. Makes people fall in love with their products and once you are in love with Apple it's hard to change.
Apple knows how to make people desire their products not just want them but truly desire and crave to touch their devices. To be honest I love my iPhone my MacBook pro my AppleTV( not so much) my iPad and my ACD. That is what Apple does makes people fall in love with the device.
Android doesn't have the same experience it's all over the place too many phones too many versions of the OS all over the place. The market is horrible the apps could be better coded. Unfortunately Google whores the OS and now they want to implement a control to the so called open source!!
Android is an awesome OS if only Google had tighter control over it things would have been different. Apple would be shaking in their boots right but the reality is that all want to be like Apple and they will never succeed without copying.

Some specs are important. I read an interview with one of RIM's industrial designers today. He said that there was a lot of work done to get the screen size right and their inspiration was the Moleskine note pads that Picasso and Hemingway used and loved because they felt it was an ideal size. I laughed because first, he's talking about a display and making a comparison to paper. I then laughed louder when I realized that the folks he talked about are dead and never had a personal computer let alone a tablet.
In this case, the spec (screen size) is important because this device is intended for personal content consumption. The larger screen real estate is important to give the media it's best presentation.

a lot of people might think that it's a lot of money to spend just to be a guinea pig for a new device. Apple supports their devices years after they are released, unlike Android where you might get support 6 months after release. The sure fire bet was iPad 2 for my money.

"what do you make of the struggle to get a strong competitor to market?"
It takes a good 12 to 24 months to develop a good device. If it was a cold start, from zero, it's probably 3 years. For any engineering project consisting of hundreds of people and lots of subs, getting a product released in a year, 12 months, would be hugely gargantuan task.
So, if you believe the circumstance of Apple surprising the industry with the iPad design and subsequent sales success, competitors are still about 6 months away or more from have good refined in shipping systems. Apple has been rumored to have been working on such a device for at least 6 years. (Look up "safari pad"). Competitors basically have the iPad as a reference design to shorten their development cycle, making a 12 to 24 month cycle possible depending on where the OS software is.
The Xoom and Playbook are simply examples of that. They are obviously not done and need at least another 6 months of work. The Touchpad I think has a best chance of being "complete" upon official release, but then again, I think HP had the least amount work to do and they aren't rumored to ship until Summer.
By next year, competing devices will be much better. Hopefully RIM and HP will persevere. Google obviously will as their business model is different.
The lion's share of work has been completed with the delivery of the iPad 1. Apple is now in an iterative update cycle for the product class. There won't be a revolution like the first release again.
Hopefully, Apple is working on the next big thing.

Competitors probably need to make their tablet or ui awesome, easy and revolutionary to make a dent in the market. I like the options, but manufacturers and os designers r gna have to put out for consumers now, settle for low sales, only manufacture as much as actually ordered, or give up.
If they r delaying, then that better mean thhat when they do come to market, their stuff is totally awesome, and they r gna have to get apps and devs, maybe they will have to bribe to get numbers there. For some, the money to get devs might make it not worth it to ever do it.

With Apple owning most of the resources available world-wide for making a tablet, such as displays, NAND Flash, etc., how far out of the gate can the wanna-be's really be expected to make it.

The iPad 2 competitors are getting weaker. They have a couple cool features, but in all other respects, they suck. iOS could use some android tablet features over to the iPad 3 though... (file systems, widgets, flash...)