Is the Xoom WiFi the Beginning of the End for the iPad?

by: Darryl DoakMarch 28, 2011

Some fortunate folks have started to receive their Xoom Wifi tablets a little early, as some their have been reports that some have received their Xoom Wifi’s in the mail a couple days back. Others claim to have been able to pick them up early from “brick and mortar” retail stores. But officially, today, March 27th, will be the day that a major Android manufacturer has changed their game plan which will lead to a drastic rise in the market share of Android tablets. Soon to follow, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7″ will also be released as a Wifi only option which will be a precursor to Samsung’s awesome Galaxy Tab 10.1″ and Galaxy Tab 8.9″ models due out in only a couple months.

Up until now there hasn’t been any major players offering an Android tablet Wifi-only option for mass consumption. As you may have read in previous articles, I have an Archos 101 Internet Tablet 8GB. It’s a great tablet, and has done a good job holding me over until Android had fully caught up in the Wifi only tablet game. Its a great tablet for only $299, and paired with my myTouch 4G, I can get internet everywhere I go. However the OS is slow to do anything, and overall, it just isn’t very pretty. The lack of brightness and poor viewing angle just compound the lack of beauty of the low resolution for the large size screen. Tablets like this just don’t have the fit and finish, advertising power, global reach and production capacity to rival iOS. But Motorola and Samsung do – and I believe this will change the game.

These new crop of Android tablets have spared no expense. They have the features that people expect out of the newest hardware. But, at the same time command a price premium, and are almost twice the price of the 10.1″ tablet I hold in my hand. Are they worth it? Definitely. Looking over the multitude of offerings that are on the way brings to mind the early 90s when the Windows/Intel PC passed up the Macintosh, which eventually led to Microsoft having 95% market share in the desktop market. These days are very different because Apple has the tablet mind-share of most of the consumers of the world, and a wide margin at that, with a market share at 75%. But the similarities are there, where all the worlds’ manufacturers are on one side, and on the other side stands Apple on their own facing an army. Sure, there are a few manufacturers that stand outside the Android camp like HP with their webOS platform, and RIM who is starting out with their newly acquired QNX platform. But most of the worlds’ manufacturers are fully aligning themselves with Google’s Android platform.

We all knew there would be a ton of “No Name” manufacturers that would come out with low-end Android Tablet offerings. What I didn’t anticipate however, was that the level of build quality would be so high from these ‘minor’ players. Before I knew it, CES in January demonstrated that company’s with little tablet making experiencing were getting in the market. Who, you may ask, is producing an Android tablet? Polaroid. The funny thing is, watching the video, I’m actually compelled to find out what the price is. The screen looks nice enough, and being that its running a single core Cortex A8 and Android 2.2, I’m hoping the price is reasonable.

With the knowledge that it’s not only the established technology companies that are throwing their weight behind Android like Samsung, Motorola, LG, Acer, Asus, MSI, and so forth, but also other manufacturers you would never have associated with making tablets, things are likely to get really competitive, really quickly. Remember though, these companies command the power of brand recognition. This is absolutely vital in the consumer world. You can have absolutely killer hardware, but if no one knows that you exist, then what does it matter? The average consumer will never know your product is an option. On the flip side, you have some companies who have made very poor products, but their brand is strong enough, so it carries them through. I have no doubt that Android tablet manufacturers will have a hard time fighting Apples dominance in the tablet market, but these Wifi only tablets are the key to usurping Apple’s top spot. There are far more retailers out there that don’t have Apple licenses that would love to jump onto this tablet bandwagon and make some cash. These lower spec’d, lower priced, non-mainstream brand names are a great way for them to compete.

I respect Apple. They have some great hardware, and they have a killer marketing department. But, no matter how much Apple fans deny it – their tablet will be passed up in OS market share. Nothing will change the fact that fighting an army which makes up of every other technology manufacturer in the world is a losing battle. The next evolution of consumer computing is definitely the tablet, and to expect that every other tech manufacturer in the world is going to be grouped into 25% of the market is simply laughable. Today might not be the first shot fired in this war, but this is the first move that shows the path to victory in the war for the next generation of mobile computing,. Pretty soon, HP’s webOS and RIM’s QNX will further diminish iOS market share. Let’s not forget too, that ARM focused, touch friendly Windows 8 is also on the way. No matter though folks, in the end, Android will win.

What do you guys think, how quickly will it take for these newly released wifi only Android tablets to pass up iOS in tablet market share? Or, do you think one of the other newly announced tablet platforms will take the #1 spot? Let us know in the comments.

  • Michael Sena

    Apple has a healthy headstart, no question. They are the first brand that comes to mind when people think tablets/iPad.

    This is really cool what you guys found regarding the nexus tablet – that is something i would be interested in. Make it sub 500 bucks and i’m there in a heartbeat.

    As soon as Google releases the Honeycomb source code, and the chinese companies get there hands on it, then we will see some real competition.

    I have no doubt that Apple’s marketshare will wither to -50% in less than 18 months from now, thank God.

    Blessed are the people.

  • Apple will continue to be successful with their products. They’ve developed a VERY loyal consumer base that will purchase nearly anything they put out regardless of its capabilities versus the competition.

    The big thing though, is what is Microsoft doing with Windows 8. We know they will have a tablet and desktop UI for Win8 and maybe even a phone UI. That would be one core OS on phone, tablet, and desktop and all able to run windows software? If that’s the case then everyone should be a little worried about Win8 especially if it can run on ARM chips with good battery life and MS doesn’t try to pull an Apple by overly locking it down.

    This is just the start of mobile devices becoming a primary computing tool and replacing the home pc for many users. Right now far less than 1% of the population owns a tablet. There’s still lots of time and lots of growth to take place and just like with the PC back in the 80s it isn’t going to be won with the first shot. It will be won over time with the OS that offers the greatest flexibility to the user, has multiple OEM partners, and offers a great way for devs monotize their products.

    Right now Android is offering good flexibility but it could be much better especially concerning updates and upgrades. It also has the OEM partners but has yet to really prove to devs that they can monotize their products.

    Apple lacks the OEM partners and therefore is stuck with one form factor generally however, they’ve proven they can monotize devs products well. Nonetheless, Apple consistently chooses to be inflexible and produce an OS that is also inflexible. This makes for more of an uphill battle in the long run for Apple. It’s one thing to convince a fan to use a new product and it’s another to convert a user from another ecosystem.

    Microsoft. . . well, we are waiting to see what they will do. Maybe a year from now we might actually have a clue lol.