Sunday, July 31, 2011

iPad's Competition Comes Into View

The iPad has been so sweepingly successful, that it has injected a surge of vitality into a sector of the computer market that was barely breathing before. But while the iPad has enjoyed something of a honeymoon period with it's closest competitors barely visible in the rear-view mirror, that may not alwyays be the case.

The computer market is kind of like sports. Barcelona may have dominated international soccer for the last few years, just as the iPad has in the tablet market. However while the Spanish soccer team must face the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United waiting in the wings, the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom are the two tablets that stand the best chance of going toe-to-toe with the iPad for market share.

Both devices are powered by Android and while currently they are doing nowhere near Apple's numbers, that may not be the case a couple years from now. Currently Apple controls some 75 percent of the tablet market. However research firm Informa has issued a report predicting that Android powered tablet sales will surpass those of the iPad within five years.

The main reason analysts predict that Google android devices will overtake the iPad? Money. The Android devices are cheaper on the whole than the iPad 2 and offer basically the same capabilities. According to Informa analyst David McQueen, Apple's market share will fall to 39 percent over the next four years while Android's will increase. By 2016 the two will pass going in opposite direction as the more affordable Android devices are adopted by more users.

Of course predictions like these discount one of the biggest variables in the equation: Steve Jobs.

The Apple auteur has never been one to sit back on his laurels. The iPad 2 is still a relatively fresh offering. However by the time Informa's timeline has evolved, we will likely have seen the iPads 3, 4 and maybe 5 released.

And with the release of every new generation of iPad, last year's model becomes available for cheaper. While the Samsung Galaxy goes for about $499, you can get a first generation iPad for less than $300. Currently rumors are already circulating that Apple intends to make the iPad 3 available for cheaper, in part to slow the market growth of brands like Samsung and Motorola.

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