Mike Cane over at The Digital Reader has a great post about the recent release by Samsung of their tablet sales figures. In short, it’s grim news for anybody who isn’t Apple: to their 5.7 million iPads, Samsung has sold just 37,000. So, what’s the problem? From the article:
“All this time we’ve heard from ‘industry pundets’ [sic] how Android is gaining market share against—or passed the market share of—iPhone. And that was going to translate into Android putting a bullet into the head of the iPad too … the point I’m making here is that with Android, there is no overlap between phones and tablets. People with an Android phone are not going to go get an Android tablet—or they would have by now.”
Cane points out, too, that it was “love that kept Apple alive.” And Android simply hasn’t got the love. I think he’s onto something. When the iPad was first announced, people said it was just a toy, not a serious business machine. But they bought it anyway, and then found ways to make it a business machine. My logitech keyboard all but turns it into a mini laptop!
So, what is Android up against? Well, they’re facing that initial ‘but it’s just a toy!’ reaction. This is not a need for people. They already have phones that do many of the functions of a mini tablet, or else they have laptops or iPads that do the functions of a bigger one. A couple inches more for reading would be nice, but ‘nice’ is not worth a couple hundred dollars to most people. And if your only reason for wanting the bigger screen is reading, an e-ink reader is a tiny fraction of the price. It’s just hard to justify that kind of money for a toy.
I do use my iPad for work, but I take advantage of the bigger screen to show video and compose documents. Even if Apple came out with an iPad mini tomorrow, I wouldn’t trade in my iPad, because 7 inches just isn’t a big enough screen for me to be productive with. A mini tablet really is just a toy for the vast number of users.
People marvel at why anyone would buy a Nook Tablet or a Kindle Fire when other Android tablets have much better features. What they seem to be overlooking is that Amazon and Nook priced their toys just right for the ‘I want an extra device for my kids’ market—and they built an ecosystem to go with it. Those extra features the Samsung tablet offers cost money, and the cost-benefit ratio just doesn’t seem to be there. For what the usage market is of a smaller tablet, people don’t need computer-level feature sets—or for that matter, computer-level prices.
For what it’s worth, Cane does predict that an iPad Mini would be a huge seller. But, as he points out, it’s love that keeps Apple alive. Everyone else has to stay competitive with the right balance of price and feature sets, and so far Android is, it seems, aiming too high on both of those counts.