Monday, March 07, 2011

iPad 2 A Bit Disappointing, But Apple's Share of Tablet Business Unlikely To Erode Quickly

There's an automatic assumption out there in the market that Apple's share of the tablet PC market will erode in about the same manner that it's share of the iPhone has eroded.  That may not turn out to be true because phones and tablets are sold in different ways.

Expensive smart-phones are sold mostly with contracts.  That means you can't really tell the difference between the cost of an iPhone and the cost of an Android phone.  Carriers tend to sell most of these phones at fairly similar (highly subsidized) prices, and Apple charges a premium to carriers for its iPhone.

Tablets are a different ball-game.  They are sold mostly without subsidies and in this market, we are able to see that competitors are having a hard time beating Apple's cost structure.  Motorola's XOOM tablet is basically competitive (a 10% premium for the free 4G upgrade is quite reasonable) but only at the higher end.  Nobody has cracked the $499 price point yet and that's where Apple continues to sell the majority of the iPads - WiFi only products.

Though the number of tablet apps in this space is limited on Android, that will improve.  However, to really dent Apple's market share in this space, companies are going to have to start beating Apple on price with competitively spec'd products.  That doesn't appear to be happening this year, though perhaps we'll see some aggressive moves in 2012.

And still the same price.

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