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How To Win The Tablet War Against The iPad

(link via @mikecane)

IMHO this is how you win the tablet war against Apple. Look at that price tag. Now, this is not for a brand new, never before seen device although it is the first time you could buy it WIFI only. The original Galaxy Tab shipped in November of 2010 making the actual device about 6 months old and definitely last year’s tech compared to the likes of the iPad 2, but let me ask you something:

Do you really think the average buyer who walks into a Best Buy looking for an iPad is going to care when they ask the sales person if there are cheaper options?

The average buyer that I know doesn’t really understand (or care to) what the differences are if the price is right. What drives them is their wallet and a good bit of The Jones’. People want a tablet. They don’t necessarily know why or what they’re going to use it for – they just know the Jones’ have one and they have to have one too. The basic questions are going to be covered by the salesperson – yes it does email, Facebook, YouTube and Angry Birds. Yes you can do instant messaging. Yes it’ll play music and movies – in fact it may even play more movies than the iPad. Yes, you can show pictures to all your friends of your rug rat playing in the park on the swings. (Nobody loves your kid as much as you… Don’t bore us with them).

So, this is how you win the war. You build a solid device and you sell it at cut throat prices compared to Apple. The margins may be small, but the market is millions of devices so bulk is the key. Sure the Galaxy Tab isn’t the best possible device it can be, but that’s not the point. The point is to be just good enough when an uninformed buyer walks into the store and you’re the cheapest option available that actually works worth a shit and doesn’t look like a cheap piece of junk. If you can do that – you’ve got a shot at winning.

Here’s another point. Let’s take education as an example. If you’re on a shrinking budget, if you need to buy devices for kids, and the requirements are simply that the device support eBook checkout from a service like Overdrive, why wouldn’t I buy 4 Galaxy Tabs for the same price as I can get 3 iPads? Let’s go bigger… 857 Galaxy Tabs or 600 iPads for $300,000. Sure, I understand there’s some serious trade offs by going with the cheaper option, but when the device ticks all the requirement boxes, can you justify extra costs and lower quantity? Can you tell 257 kids that they don’t get to check out the books because you bought iPads instead? Can you explain that choice to the tax payers and the school board?

Is the 7″ Galaxy Tab a great choice for power user types who know the technology they’re buying? No, definitely not. The processor is 1st Gen iPad speed (still not bad), the screen isn’t as good, battery life is less by 3 odd hours, and it’s not as durable, but it is still just good enough to warranty consideration for the average buyer.

So wrapping this up, Samsung might have just drug out a rusty old sword and still managed to strike a fatal blow against the king. If they didn’t we still may be seeing the start of the overthrow. IMHO, all it’s going to take is a powerhouse device to hit the shelves at a huge price break and there will be a new king of the mountain.

For the record I own and believe in the iPad whole heartedly. This whole post was written on one using the Blogsy app. But, if Samsung can launch the 8.9″ 16GB WIFI model for $399 – I’m buying. Not because I think it’s better than the iPad 2, but the price is definitely better and the size suits my needs.

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  • Why would you waist your money, if you can get the real deal for $100,- more.
    The picture you where painting about the sales persons, is correct though. They simply don’t know what they are talking about, and are too lazy explaining the customer, why they pay just a $100,- cheaper.
    A good salesman isn’t only about selling a device, but has a reasonable amount of Knowledge, and tries to give all the useful information to the customer. Because a happy customer will most likely come back.
    Your also telling this is good for kids, but also point out that the galaxy Tab is not a sturdy device like the iPad 2, so kids would most likely demolish the Galaxy tab much faster. To those parents I just have to say, don’t be cheap.

    • Brandon

      My point was more – people don’t know necessarily know they are wasting their money on a lesser device. Most people are going to vote with their wallets… Especially if they don’t know any better. Otherwise those $150 android iPad knockoffs from China would never sell.

  • The only way Xoom and Galaxy Tab can compete against the iPad 2 is by dropping the prices. They need to be priced $400 approximately.

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  • lrd

    Did we forget: 78,000 apps & iTunes on iPads? Easy back up; integrated tools that allow you to manage your digital data and the whole Apple ecosystem?

    Now, Honeycomb: 17 apps, ?, ?, ?, ? (everthung else is unknown or you have to a hacker to manage it)

    Now Android tablets: no apps meant to run on tablets; never expect a upgrade?everything else is either not there or unknown.

    • Brandon

      No I didn’t forget. As I said in the post – the basic questions are answered. Email, web, Facebook, youTube Angry Birds… It can do the basics. And as I mentioned – maybe it’s not the Galaxy Tab.

      What if Motorola dropped the price of the Xoom tomorrow to $350? you don’t think people would be all in? And when Moto starts selling a million Xooms – you think developers won’t go all in?

      What if Blackberry drops the Playbook on April 19th for $350? You think Millions of CIOs won’t immediately sign their company up?

  • Ted

    The game is already over. Apple will become the future of all computing just like IBM in the 1970’s, MS in the 1990’s, so expect about a 30 year reign of Apple from this point forward.

    People forget there will be a 15″ iPad, a 17″ and even a 20″ iPad, this was all written out by Apple in the late 1980’s.

    The main reason Android failed is because Developers & Customers hate the devices. The hardware is poor, there is little decent software, basically no reliable syncing, price of ownership is higher, no real accessory market, difficult to upgrade the OS, on & on…

    • Brandon

      The hardware may not be as good as the iPad or iPad 2 (aluminum case) but they have the same glass, and in some cases better processor and memory…

  • Stephen

    Since Apple has much better margins, don’t you figure that its education price will match Samsung’s or be close enough that the other considerations (ruggedness, video mirror, support) will beat Samsung and Xoom? If kids have iPads in school and help parents choose which one to buy for home use, won’t they tell parents to buy the iPad? What about all the buzz about iPads? Most public discussion of the competition is in the tech press that most bargain hunters don’t read or even know about. Cheap knockoffs in Best Buy and Walmart don’t have a good track record competing against Apple. Look at Zune and all the other MP3 players.

    In the end it won’t matter much because Apple will make a lot of money off the iPad and the competition won’t from their devices. Samsung will probably make much more money from making parts for the iPad than it will from the Tab.

    • Brandon

      Actually – Apple doesn’t (in my recent experiences anyway) provide any level of deep discount against the competition. Any discounts that I have seen are marginal and don’t match up to the $350 Galaxy Tab.

  • Ted T.

    “For the record I own and believe in the iPad whole heartedly. This whole post was written on one using the Blogsy app. But, if Samsung can launch the 8.9″ 16GB WIFI model for $399 – I’m buying. Not because I think it’s better than the iPad 2, but the price is definitely better and the size suits my needs.”

    So let me get this straight — you already have an iPad but will buy the Samsung 8.9″ tablet as soon as it devaporizes … in order to save money? Dude, you have serious issues with your logic.

    Also, please explain, if we are to take your argument at face value, why did the cheaper iPod alternatives not take over the digital portable music player market? Price is all that matters right? So why does the iPod still have 70% of the market?

    “…in fact it may even play more movies than the iPad.” Um, no, no it can’t. And if you are looking for hints that’s why the iPod competitors withered on the vine as well. iTunes has way, way, way more movies, TV shows, video podcasts, iTunes U videos, not to mention tablet (iPad) specific apps than any of its competitors. It can stream your cable providers offerings and Netflix. The Samsung tablet can’t. (The iPad also has a bigger screen and longer battery life, both big plusses for watching video.)

    Sorry, but this is the iPod vs. everyone else all over again. Fact: the iPod Touch has been out what — at least 4 years now — and still not a single non-laughable Android or otherwise competitor? Keep telling yourself that with the iPad it will be somehow different — it won’t.

    • Brandon

      The key part you missed with my decision to consider the Galaxy 8.9 – was that it better suits MY NEEDS. Not anyone else’s. I have a first gen iPad. I’m looking to upgrade to an iPad 2. BUT, if the Galaxy Tab 8.9 hits the market at $400 and isn’t crap out of the box – it suits my personal needs better than a larger and heavier iPad. My logic is sound. I’m buying a new device soon. Which one all depends on what I use it for and the price at which I can buy it. My use model for the iPad likely is not the same as yours.

      Supported video formats was my point about more movies, not availability in iTunes. As I looked – the differences are marginal so I’ll give you that one 🙂

      iPod Touch. Here’s why the Zune (arguably the only real competition) lost: The turd brown one Microsoft tried to peddle as the first big competitor. They waited too long to actually compete on the app level and missed the boat that people wanted more than a media player. They wanted a do it all, play it all device. Apple has that. The Zune (and HD) never reached that level and Microsoft continually misses the boat. Android powered Touch competitors – Do people even know they exist? Archos makes a ton of different models in varying sizes. Archos fails because they don’t support the Android Market on those devices and they don’t advertise. Nobody knows they exist and when the sale person is offering suggestions for other devices – they can’t honestly say that the Archos does the basics that the Touch does.

      This isn’t an “Apples to Apples” comparison on the media player front and so while the argument may be the same – the actual competitors are more evenly matched when it comes to tablets.

  • Michael

    Market share is irrelevant. This is not Apple’s customer, and if you would really select that 399.99 Samsung CDs ware, neither are you. Apple doesn’t want the specks oriented techies or the cheapskate never squeeze the copper off a penny consumers. What it wants is the high end to middle end consumer who buys apps. Only the press looks at “Android” market share. There is no Android. It is merely a set of sub-routines that allow companies to build upon it and roll their own. The only market share comparators are Samsung, Motorola, Lenovo. Free underpinnings that are not compatible within a platform, much less between them are not relevant. Giving the underpinnings away, not updating it, selling equipment as twofers, lousy graphics, poor user experience will slowly erode crap market share and leave Apple with profit share. Once they get close, Apple will morph the market. The ecosystem is what rules and Apple has it and is folding everything into it. The walled garden is beautiful, keeps out the plant tramplers, who prefer the cheap plastic plants. Technology yields to esthetics and the knock offers can’t knockoff a moving target.

  • AlfieJr

    dude, $150 ain’t what it used to be.

    for most adults, that is too small an amount to be the deciding factor in a buying a “discretionary” consumer product like a tablet. you are buying an experience to enjoy, not looking to get a basic necessity for the minimum possible amount (more like a smartphone).

    price does matter when parents buy toys for their kids. so yes, then $150 would matter. and for people on a tight budget of course.

    but otherwise, the price difference has to be at least 1/3 less to matter, compared to the desired brand. and for an visibly lesser product (smaller size), 1/2. so the 7″ Galaxy needs to be sold at $250. which is the price point others are aiming at – like Archos.

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  • Inbred sloppy joe

    Even if competitors drop their prices below the iPad, it will not be enough, You bloggers fail to realize, that the iPad is on a roll, it’s trendy and everybody wants one, people don’t care about specs on other devices, they want ease of use, user experience is key here, and itunes with a gazillion apps help, writers get real, you can reason away why other tablets might be better, but the bottom line is that the masses want their iPads, period.

  • rand

    Or, as you point out, if price is key, they can still buy a great device in the iPad first gen, which is in most (all) of these stores, and still come out ahead than buying the galaxy device. Since we are talking about what’s available now ‘n all.

    • Brandon

      Excellent point @rand – the question then becomes.. how long will it still be available?

  • Brandon, I just think you underestimate how much people really want an iPad. If they’re walking into Best Buy for one, they probably already know what they cost and are ready to spend that amount. Showing them some cheaper (and cheaply made) alternative that doesn’t offer as good an experience is not going to sway many away from the iPad they came in to buy. (You don’t even address the millions of iPads sold at Apple Stores, where obviously there is zero competition from other tablets.)

    Another problem with your thinking is evident in this statement:

    “The point is to be just good enough when an uninformed buyer walks into the store and you’re the cheapest option available that actually works worth a shit and doesn’t look like a cheap piece of junk. If you can do that – you’ve got a shot at winning.”

    For that to be true, I think the “uninformed” buyer needs to:

    – Not have an iPhone
    – Not use iTunes
    – Not have been influenced by all the positive press and ads about the iPad
    – Have very minimal needs for the tablet they’re buying
    – Not notice that the iPad has a superior user experience

    The iPad’s popularity has gone way beyond techy, geeky people, meaning that there are hardly any “uninformed” buyers walking in to a store looking for a tablet.

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