While Apple has dominated the tablet market since its debut in April of 2010, there is no denying that its grip on consumer consciousness continues to slip, ever-so-slightly as cheaper tablets find their way onto retail shelves.
What is in store for the iPad in 2012? Will Apple’s dominance wane, or will it continue to win out over every other tablet-making company in existence?
Up until a month ago, the iPad was holding strong ground against all other tablet producers, worldwide. Hewlett-Packard discontinued their TouchPad, Research in Motion recently stated that it doesn’t expect to meet its full-year earnings target and Dell just announced that it will be dropping its line of Streak tablets (did anyone even know that Dell had a tablet line?). If you would have asked me two months ago what I thought of iPad’s chances of dominance in 2012 was, I would have quickly proclaimed Apple’s market share gap as a solid canyon through at least 2014. However, news of smaller, cheaper tablet models trickling into the market to much fanfare causes me to give pause.
The most obvious contender is Amazon’s Kindle Fire. From the first time it appeared in media, I was less-than wowed. I was downright disappointed. I didn’t figure this little squirt could do damage to the iPad’s superior… well, everything. I was wrong. HPI iSupply reported that Amazon will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fires in the last three months of the year. This will push the mini-tablet to the number 2 spot in market shares with 13.8 percent of the market. To put this into perspective, the only other company that has ever come close to that percentage of the market share was Samsung with a high of about 9 percent in the third quarter of 2011(Via: 9to5Mac). The Galaxy Tablet line has been on shelves all year. The Kindle Fire appears to be riding the wave of success due to its unbelievably low price of $200.
The other tablet of note that recently made waves is Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet. Following a similar business strategy, the retail bookstore giant has released its newest tablet at such a low price that there are rumors of the company, like Amazon, selling it at a loss. While selling at a significantly smaller rate, the Nook Tablet is diving into the market share, head first. HPI iSupply has reported that it is neck-and-neck with Samsung with 4.7 percent. Again, not necessarily a gap-closer, but the Nook has only been on the market for about a month, while Samsung has had all year to push its wares.
Tech companies are starting to jump on the low-cost tablet band wagon. Acer just announced that it will be releasing its newest tablet called the Iconia A200. There is no confirmation on the price, but industry speculation is that it will be comparable in price to the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire due to its “pared down” design. Verizon is also offering Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.0 (MSRP of $600) for only $199 on-contract.
Basically, tablet makers have started to see the light. The only way to compete with Apple in the tablet market is to not compete at all. Consumers want an iPad, but they are willing to settle for something else if the price is low enough. As 2012 goes on, I believe that tablet designs will be pared down and prices will be reduced. Big players like Samsung and HTC will launch a low-priced line. Apple will see the competition push its prized possession to the fringe simply because it does not want to compromise the quality of the product. The iPad will always have a large piece of the pie, but I believe that 2012 will see other companies overtake Apple in the market share race.