Whether we like it or not, Apple’s iPad has been the star of the tablet market and has overshadowed Android tablets in pretty much every aspect and area. But is this to remain? Let’s take a closer look.
While we are still in the early stages of 2012, all signs are pointing to Apple’s latest product becoming the new star of the market again. After all, sales figures don’t lie, right?
However, while no apparent leader has risen from the pack of Android tablets, there are many encouraging signs. First of all, competition is a good thing. While no one tablet alone has the means to dethrone the iPad’s impressive sales figures, collectively, they certainly do. We’ve already projected that Android tablets will overtake the iPad by the end of 2012, and we’ve got lots to back it up. We here at Android Authority feel that the long-term battle is far from being finished and decided in any way.
And inspired by a discussion on The Verge that started more than a week ago, we feel that it’s time to start a similar discussion too, to see what you think. How can Android and the device manufacturers overthrow Apple’s dictatorship in the tablet arena?
Android has to beat Apple fair and square
We have been reporting and reading about the ferocious patent war between Android manufacturers and Apple for a significant amount of time now. In our opinion, and in the opinion of many others, the ongoing patent suits stifle innovation, and slow the progress of technological advancement as well. Of course, there are strong arguments that counter that too.
The only thing that the public takes from from this seemingly endless quarrel is that instead of innovating and working to provide more compelling features and better technology, mammoth companies are trying to cut corners and to win battles in court rather than on the true battlefield, the consumer market.
What does fair and square mean?
Everyone knows Apple is the one to beat. But how do you beat a company that is arguably one of the most – if not the most – respected name in consumer technology? It’s certainly no easy task. For those that are lovers of customization, and for those that want to use their tablets for more than passive media consumption, Android is looking like a more attractive choice day by day.
“I think that if ever there is a brand cult, Apple deserves it, they come close to religious fanaticism on the part of enthusiastic followers.” - Russell Belk, a marketing professor at York University in Ontario, Canada.
For anyone that has used an iPad for a decent amount of time, they know that it is a device that is, for all intents and purposes, nothing more than an enlarged iPod Touch. Apple chose to opt for a user interface that is really nothing more than a glorified app launcher, on par with the feature-phones of yesteryear. And forget about being able to enable users to create their own useful backgrounds, with helpful, fun and informative widgets, or anything of the like. While I’m not going to dive any further into this aspect of the debate, it still merits mentioning, as it is often the primary reason people come to Android.
So, bringing it back to how Android can dominate the tablet market, here’s a few ideas below.
Make the web browsing experience absolutely incredible
- fluidity, already good but needs improvement
- make it identical (or better) to the experience we already have in the latest revisions of Chrome or Firefox on our computers
- Better support for Google Docs
Google must hold contests for developers to incentivize the creation of amazing apps
- Entice developers to hold exclusives of their apps on Android for a period of time, through contests and deals
- Google has to put its money where its mouth is, and have $100,000+ contests for apps, and often at that.
- work with SAP and others in the CRM space, to make it easier for businesses to use Android tablets for their own purposes. After all, Android is supposed to be open, right?
Continue creating innovative designs that target all aspects of the consumer market
While the Kindle Fire takes the crown as the best selling Android tablet out there, there’s still huge potential for other Android tablets to stake their own claim in the market. With hybrid devices like the ASUS Transformer, and their upgraded Prime model selling quite well, it’s clear that consumers love keyboard docks that enhance productivity and extend battery life. Further to that, there’s innovative designs like ASUS’ Padfone coming to market soon too, with others soon to follow. What other innovative ideas can you think up?
Additionally, what companies can also do is just be better than Apple. Is this impossible? Certainly not. To do this, manufacturers must push the envelope, think outside the box, come up with original designs, sleeker products, longer lasting batteries, snappier processors and devices at more affordable price points. The may end up spending a lot on research and development, but, in the long haul, they can do right by consumers and create huge loyal followings of their own.
In the discussion on the Verge, readers insisted in their discussion that exclusive games could make Android tablets more popular than iPads. While that’s an excellent point and a great idea, that should only be one part of a much more wider and larger strategy, involving, better designs, stronger batteries, snappier processors, as well as nicer games.
Of course, the elephant in the room is Google. They must do better at providing leadership and support for the numerous hordes of manufacturers now creating devices with their operating system on board. They must entice developers to produce epic apps for the platform. Apple has a serious advantage in this area, as a significant majority of their customers’ credit cards are on file, with their user base already have demonstrated a desire to pay for apps. Plus, app developers have reported higher revenues in many cases. These are things that can all be overcome, but only if Google demonstrates some leadership.
Finally, what Google must do, and must do quickly, is solve the Android fragmentation problem. It’s unacceptable that only a couple of tablets running the latest software version, Ice Cream Sandwich, more than four months after its official release.
My friends, I know many of you have strong feelings on what has been written above. We have been accused of being somewhat too biased in the past, and this is perhaps true. All we aim to do is encourage all parties involved to do better. At the end of the day, we all benefit from thriving app ecosystems, profitable manufacturers, and intense competition. This is what drives innovation. This is what helps make technology better, and more affordable and more accessible. Android has a lot to overcome if Apple is to be ever disturbed from its leading position in the tablet market.
Now, I invite you to leave your thoughts below. What must Android, Google, and the manufacturers do?