Matthew Panzarino at The Next Web has written a very interesting article about why the iPad has and will continue to dominate the tablet market. He describes 7 reasons why the iPad will dominate the tablet market for the next decade.
For analysts covering the tablet space, the tablet domination discussion tends to revolve around shipments. Panzarino rightly states that shipments do not equal sales, but that “shipments of tablets are the most often quoted figures that you see in articles that compare the ‘success’ of devices from different manufacturers. The reason that they’re most likely to be used is that the shipment figures are often provided readily by the companies involved, because they make the biggest splash.”
We have recently come to learn that sales of highly touted and promoted devices like the Playbook from RIM, the TouchPad from HP, and the Xoom from Motorola have had underwhelming sales.
So, shipments should be disqualified as the correct way to measure domination.
Panzarino discusses other reasons why the iPad will continue to dominate the tablet market including: 1) the fallacy of comparing tablets to the smartphone market, 2) the significance of the Apple store as a sales channel, 3) the fact that the iPad is highly profitable unlike the other tablet players on the market today, 4) Apple’s very active role in the manufacturing process, 5) cross sale / usage possibilities with the iPad and other apple devices like the iPod and iPhone, and finally, 6) that Apple is the only manufacturer to get the user experience right. He states that “when customers actually try the iPad, that sticky 1:1 performance of the touch screen enhances the iPad’s natural UI and continues to make it the gold standard”.
We feel this last factor is extremely important. Our background in rolling out Enterprise Applications across the globe tells us that ease of use is highly correlated to successful implementations. My four year old picked up the iPad and was able to navigate and successfully find and use applications in a matter of minutes. While I’m not exactly comparing business users to my 4 year old, this does bode well for Apple and the iPad.
Another good measurement for tablet domination is the number of applications available on a particular device. Brent Rose of PC World wrote a couple of days back in his ” Mystery of the Missing Honeycomb Apps ” that “the number of Honeycomb-optimized apps remains in the low hundreds. By comparison, there are over 100,000 apps optimized for the iPad.” As of the end of June there were only 2,653 PlayBook apps available in the BlackBerry App World catalog according to Dan Levy (and this number most likely exaggerates the number of apps that are actually optimized for the Playbook). At launch of the TouchPad there were ~300 apps according to Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram .
There is no doubt that any tablet competing with the iPad has a serious uphill battle in front of them.
When it comes to our enterprise customers who are looking to decide on a tablet to roll out to their staff, one of the key decision factors will be stability. Business, more than consumers on the whole are risk adverse. They look for financial stability, platform stability, application stability, security, and other organizations who have been there / done that. Right now, that is without question the iPad. At Propelics, we are backing the iPad until such time that another viable tablet emerges that we feel we can recommend to our customers.
One final thought on the definition of domination in the tablet space, for business customers, but for consumers as well. The discussion has to shift from shipments, and even sales, to use cases. The tablet as a device will only survive and thrive if people use them. In the business world, the newness factor will eventually wear out, and it will come down to whether tablets can be used to increase revenue, shorten sales cycles, increase employee productivity, increase speed of customer issue resolution, etc.
Check out our Primer on iPad Use in the Enterprise for some ideas on how we hope the discussion will be framed. In the coming weeks we will be talking more about specific use cases and client successes. Stay tuned…