Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tablet Bloodbath

I bought an Android Tablet (the Motorola XOOM) on Friday.

During the process at Best Buy it struck me the upcoming 'Tablet War' will bear an uncanny resemblance to the PC market.  Motorola won't compete with Apple in the Tablet market any more than Acer competes with Apple in the PC market.

When consumers go to Best Buy to get a Tablet they'll ask themselves 2 questions:

Q1: "Do I want an iPad or an Android?"
Q2: "If I want an Android then which one do I want? Motorola, Samsung, Asus, Dell...."

Motorola's biggest competition will be Samsung, Acer, Dell and anyone else who releases an Android tablet (and boy there's a lot of them). Competition with Apple is a secondary problem for these guys at best.

In theory, it's Google vs Apple.  The tech tabloids and industry boffins are eating that stuff up because it's interesting for industry people to analyze, debate and pontificate over.

In practice, it's comes down to manufacturing, distribution and the showroom - where Google is a logo on a box at best.  You'll soon be able to see Apple standing tall in one corner of Best Buy and every other tablet manufacturer fighting a brutal battle against each other in another corner.  When it comes down to it - Motorola and Samsung will soon be busy one upping each other on hardware features and under cutting each other on price.  Apple will have the best seat in the house during the upcoming tablet bloodbath.

Sure, there might be cheeky ad campaigns that try to pitch Apple against Manufacturer X and plenty of industry analysts comparing Google vs Apple, but when it comes to the showroom floor it will be Motorola, Samsung, Acer and Dell sucker punching each other until the weak ones get out of the ring.

I don't see Apple doing much other than continuing on their own merry way while the bevy of Android Tablet manufacturers beat each other up.  An uncanny resemblance to the PC market where Apple is extremely profitable and the 'competition' has either been eaten up (Compaq, DEC, IBM) or is surviving on ridiculously thin margins (Dell, HP,  Acer).

The technology might be new, but the story of Apple vs Android is neither new or even very interesting.  Apple vs HP on the other hand is behemoth vs underdog and one should never ignore an underdog.