In the news this week, the failure of yet another iPad competitor, this time the Motorola Zoom (http://www.forbes.com/sites/briancaulfield/2011/10/27/more-tablet-toast-motorola-mobility-sold-just-100000-xoom-tablets-in-latest-quarter/).
Whilst Apple managed to sell 11.1 million tablets last quarter, Motorola managed just 100,000. Alongside the news that RIM is delaying the release of the upgrade to the Playbook operating system until next year (the ‘enhancement’ that will make it actually functional in any meaningful way), there really is nothing even approaching competition for the iPad. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15464506)
Not so for the iPhone, where the smartphone market is more agile, indeed, this quarter has seen Samsung steal a convincing lead (although possibly driven by people waiting for release of the iPhone 4S (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15489523).
But facts and figures only tell one part of the story. Apple defined the tablet market. Whilst there were tablets before, they gave little utility and were, essentially, technical toys. Apple broke this open by giving us large volumes of quality Apps, security and style. It did this with the iPhone, and it did it with the iPad, but the competition is catching up in the phone market. This may be because phones are accepted now as fashion icons, whilst tablets are still largely functional: or rather, they are not so ‘disposable’ as phones.
The wonder to me is never why Apple do so well, it’s why the competition consistently do so badly. Attention to detail, usability and simple style go a long way, things that are missed so many times. On my Playbook, the power lead wobbles about, constantly feeling that it’s about to break. Why? Surely i’m not the only person who noticed this?
As Forbes identify, there isn’t really a ‘tablet’ market at the moment, just an iPad market. For as long as Apple maintain a monopoly on function, style and usability, this will remain the case.
In terms of e-learning, we see an 80/20 uptake of learning on the iPad compared to smartphones: people clearly prefer the larger format of device to work on. Whatever the technology, the fact remains that it’s still fun to own an iPad, whilst the competition just doesn’t cut the mustard. As long as this remains the case, the market is unlikely to develop fast.