Do tablet manufacturers get it?

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With some potentially incredible tablets coming in the next couple of months, there are many questions that people can ask about the current state of the tablet market.  Apple has a serious stronghold on market share.  But many companies are hoping to take some of that for themselves.  Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha just announced that Motorola will be launching several different tablets with different sizes and price points this year.  But do they really get it?

Two of the better tablets out on the market currently are the iPad and the Galaxy Tab (excluding the Nook).  The iPad is selling like hotcakes, while the Tab is basically just selling.  Samsung won’t release official sales numbers, but it’s pretty easy to see where they lie in the tablet industry with the iPad claiming over 70% of the tablet market.  What’s the reason for the difference? The screen size? iOS vs Android? Build quality?

Quite simply is comes down to consumer appeal.  You can walk into Wal-Mart and buy a $500 16GB iPad with wi-fi, no strings attached.  Meanwhile, the Galaxy Tab comes with a nice little contract from your favorite wireless provider increasing the cost by upwards of $1,100 over the course of 2 years.   Of course you can do a 3G contract for a month and then cancel, but that will add about another $60-100 on top of the Tab price, and the payment of the remaining subsidized price.  Another option is to check out and drop $650 on a 16GB 7″ tablet running Android 2.2 which will not be upgraded to the Honeycomb version.  It’s just one more way Samsung wants to piss off current customers in favor of potential future customers upgrading.  Remember, the iPad is $150 cheaper with a bigger screen.

So after looking at Samsung’s terrible strategy for the first Android tablet (mind you Google did not back it), how is Motorola going to launch the much praised Motorola Xoom?  Well they definitely have to go ahead and compete with Apple directly, right? Wrong.  They are partnering with Verizon and launching a 3G enabled tablet for $699 (or $799 depending on the rumors) unsubsidized with a mandatory one month minimum of Verizon service.  I’m sure the 2 yr contract subsidized price will be along Galaxy lines.  Also, the Xoom pricing will be for a 32GB model which is comparable (at $699) to the iPad pricing, but they are completely off the mark.

Where are the stripped down wi-fi only versions?  What about launching a Xoom with a 16GB capacity?  Why can’t I get this at a normal store and not have to worry about dealing with a mobile company?

Hopefully all these questions which will be answered in the next couple of months to our benefit.  But another problem is that there will be multiple release dates for the same product, just different variations (Motorola, Samsung).  Why?  Heck, Samsung still says they have a wi-fi only version of their Galaxy Tab coming to the market.

Hopefully Toshiba, Motorola, Asus and others get the big picture.  The best way to get market share is to have mass appeal.  A majority of people do not want or need another wireless contract.  Especially for a device that doesn’t fit in your pocket.  Give me a product like the Motorola Xoom or an Asus Transformer in multiple memory sizes (memory expansion), with multiple wireless options, and some different screen sizes and I will buy them in a heartbeat.  If you guys are listening, my wife would like a lightweight tablet with 16GB, wi-fi, and built in USB support.  Meanwhile, I will take a 32GB tablet with expandable memory, wi-fi only, a 12″ screen, and USB and HDMI ports.  Neither of us want a wireless contract and don’t want to pay extra for 3G capabilities that we won’t use.  We each have a smartphone for that.

It’s pretty backwards when Apple has the best pricing options in the market.  And until that changes, Apple can keep reaping the benefits.

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Allen Schmidt

Allen is a former contributing editor at Nothing But Tablets, which was merged with Pocketables in 2012.

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